Saving For College: What Things Cost, Today and Tomorrow

In this series, we're getting down to the brass tacks about saving for college, and so far, we've covered the "why" of college, or what college delivers to your family. Now, we're going to look at what you can deliver to your chosen college, aka money. So what does college cost? I'm glad you asked. The price tag depends greatly on whether you choose a public university or a private one. And believe me, I'd rather argue politics or religion than tackle the private vs. public debate in polite company. As such, I'll lay out the cost of tuition, fees, room, board, books and supplies for one year a few schools:

Public

  • Texas A&M University: $20,522
  • Ohio State: $25,725
  • University of Florida: $24,412

Private

  • Harvard: $42,675
  • Yale: $41,900
  • Columbia: $42,716

I chose the public schools in the top three malpractice crisis states just in case you're steering your student clear of the medical field (I included Texas A&M because that's my alma mater... Gig em'!). I chose the other three private schools because they all have top flight med schools, in case your kiddo takes after you and wants to enter medicine.

You'll notice a few patterns:

  • All the public school price tags are about the same: around $20-25K.
  • All the private school price tags are about the same: around $42K.
  • The private schools run about twice what the public schools do.
  • Room and board for all schools is about the same, with the private schools being a bit higher (because most of them are located in cities with a higher cost of living).

 

These are the price tags in today's dollars, as if your student were matriculating for the 07-08 school year. But wait a minute here... What about inflation?

According to The College Board, the inflation rate for college education has run 6% to 9% over the years. That means college costs will double every 9 years if they increase by just 8%. So, if you're parents to newborn twins, congratulations! But you better start saving yesterday.

Here are your all-in costs to send your dynamic duo to college for four years starting in 2025...

Public (2025/2026)

  • Texas A&M University: $656,704
  • Ohio State: 823,200
  • University of Florida: $781,184

Private (2025/2026)

  • Harvard: $1,365,600
  • Yale: $1,340,800
  • Columbia: $1,366,900

To clarify the math here, that's four times the 2007 cost of college (to account for inflation), times four years, times two kids.

In my next article, I'll tell you how much you need to be setting aside each month to hit those numbers...