Finding the Best University for Your Budget

You're thinking about going back to school. You're not sure of the costs and want to compare prices before taking the "plunge." You need to know more about their programs and all the related costs. There are many sites online that can help you decide and compare costs. How do you compare costs and what goes into tuition cost? A number of factors figure into the mix when you are comparing universities such as location, lab and book costs, room and board costs and miscellaneous costs such as fees and activity costs. It is generally understood that the more prestigious the university is, the costlier it is. For example, if you decided to go to an Ivy League school such as Harvard or Princeton you'd expect your yearly tuition to be upwards to 50,000 dollars or more. A smaller university such as Colorado Mesa University has a yearly tuition of 16,808 dollars (2013 estimate). A good way to figure out what you can handle is to research the programs each university has first. Depending on how much time you need to spend in a lab (for example) and how much time you spend in a regular classroom, you have figure out both equipment and book costs. Tuition doesn't not cover book and equipment costs. Here are some key factors you should consider while searching for the best university for your budget:


Yes, even in today's world on online university courses, it is important to consider how far you are willing to go to get an education. It also plays a key factor in how high the tuition is, for example students from a wealthy area such as Boston that has a good solid tax base can afford to pay high tuition for quality education. Rural universities in depressed areas of the country can't demand their students pay more than they are capable of paying. This is not saying that you don't get quality education at a rural university, but you can expect that they won't have updated equipment and facilities with some exceptions.

Resident or Commuter?

This is an important component in your decision and also plays into location factors. Tuition costs for those students coming out of state are higher than for residents. The reasoning is that most out of state students need room and board. This adds an extra 8,000 dollars or more to the student's tuition. States also cater more to their resident students by offering discounts and other incentives to stay in state. Commuters on the other hand who travel to university instead of residing on campus stand to save that 8,000 that they can use for transportation costs and other expenses.

Program and activities fees

Unless you are planning on studying for an occupation that doesn't require any fees, and there aren't many out there, you do have to consider program fees. This could be anything from lab fees to computer technology fees. You may also have to pay activity fees if you decide to participate in sports and other activities such as academic competitions. Depending on the program, you can expect to pay more for a program that involves a lot of specialized equipment and training. Hands-on programs for automobile trade and the computer trade can run in the thousand dollar range depending on certification fees and other related fees when you complete the program.

Book and Equipment costs

With many books available online, book costs have plummeted. Equipment costs however have skyrocketed with many students having to purchase tablets and other electronic devices in order to participate. It is unfortunately perceived that most students will have access to computers and Internet connections. Some universities have addressed this issue head on by including these computer fees as part of the tuition. Others have kept them as a separate cost and expected students to have this equipment themselves. With the advent of online learning, this cost is often figured in as part of an online scholar's responsibility. It makes perfect sense as the online scholar already has the computer and the Internet access.

Virtual learning vs Classroom instruction

Online courses on everything from cooking vegetarian to automotive repair have multiplied over the past ten years or so. Many universities tout their online courses and programs as a way for the busy professional to get updated information about their profession without having to go into the classroom. The cost however is comparable to traditional classroom instruction. The good thing about online courses opposed to traditional classroom instruction is that you can pick your time to go over the material. You do miss out on the interaction you get in a classroom setting and the instantaneous feedback you receive from your fellow classmates.

Alumni support for job hunting and career preparation

You definitely want to find out what support the university will give you when you graduate. Will they help you formulate your job strategy? Is the program geared towards helping you land a job in your field? How much career preparation will they give you? Before you decide on a program and put out money, you should have at least a good understanding of how you can put those skills to work for you. If the university promises "the moon", you might want to think twice about applying to that university. Big name universities such as Penn State offer a comprehensive career support center for a variety of careers and occupations.

Finally, please keep in mind that only you can decide which university is best for you. You should consider a number of factors before making your decision such as the ones mentioned earlier. Yes, cost is definitely a big factor in your decision but it shouldn't be the deciding factor. Pell Grants and scholarships are available. There are also a myriad of free online courses and free courses that you can take to get a feel for what you want to do. Take advantage of them and good luck!


Cost of Tuition By State

DateMarch 31, 2015

Please keep in mind that the numbers listed below are the average in-state tuition for each college. Alabama The average in-state tuition for schools centered in Alabama is $4,628. Alaska Alaska's in-state tuition average is $4,617. Arizona Arizona's colleges have, on average, an in-state tuition of $2,690. Arkansas $3,100 is the average in-state tuition for Arkansas. California The average in-state tuition for California schools is $2,597. Colorado Colorado's average tuition is $4,209. Connecticut The colleges in Connecticut offer an average in-state tuition of $4,520. Delaware $5,059 is the average tuition for the nation's first state. Flor


Educational Transfer of Wealth

DateFebruary 22, 2015

There is no better way to transfer wealth and provide a step up for your children than by paying for their education.

For years, I found myself struggling to complete in a world of Stanford and Wharton MBA's. Long before my hard work paid off in the form of a Dotcom success story I was pitching venture capitalists to invest in my startup. They were smart and savvy and knew all the correct buzzwords, I felt like my Fresno State degree was a albatross tied to tech geek career. But after 15 or 20 meetings something happened...


A Free University Education - Does it exist?

DateFebruary 05, 2015

A Free University Education - Does it exist?

A Free University Education - Does it exist? Students who are extremely brilliant, yet find themselves short of funds may obtain a positive answer to this question. There are a number of avenues for working towards a free education at some accredited academic institution.

Many Nations Offer Free College Education

Many countries around the world offer free educations to their citizens. For instance, if you are a native born Scot, and you score sufficiently well on any qualifying academic examinations, you can obtain free admission to a Scottish institutions, such as the University of St. Andrews, the University of Edinburgh, the Universi


Tuition Fees at the Top Universities

DateFebruary 05, 2015

Tuition Fees at the Top Universities

Attending college is still a dream for many people. The cost of obtaining a higher education, however, can be expensive. The following are the top universities in the United States and their current tuition fees. The fees are based on the 2014-15 school year.

1. Princeton University
This private institution in New Jersey is currently $41,820 for tuition and fees. Princeton is known as a private research university and boasts a highly ranked engineering program. Princeton has also recently been ranked number one in national university rankings by U.S. News and World Report.

2. Harvard University
Harvard, the oldest higher education ins