How Much College Can You Afford?


Out-of-pocket college costs are on the rise, despite financial aid programs and grant incentives designed to help students pay. Increasingly, candidates weigh affordability as a large factor in their decision to attend a certain school. Our infographic helps families tackle the seemingly inscrutable question: how much college can we afford? It is geared toward families with children of any age, and savvy students who will be responsible for some or all of their own education expenses.

Determining the extent to which a student or family can comfortably cover college costs depends mostly on personal tastes. Is the goal to attend a top-tier school, or are mid-tier schools, state schools or community colleges more likely choices? All-in costs are the next consideration: will the student live at home or on-campus? Will the student maintain a job that offsets any costs related to school? Room and board and how incidentals will be paid must all be factored in to yield robust cost projections.

Once assumptions are made, the rest is math. Our formula factors in the number of tuitions that will need to be paid (in the event that a parent is saving for multiple children), the time until each student will begin school, the expected tuition level, an assessment of fees, and a realistic margin for whatever allowance will be needed in order to participate fully in student life. We end by supplying advice for families and students who won’t be able to raise all of the funds by the time the student enters school. For these situations, we discuss loans, grants, scholarships, and other options.

Readers who work the math presented in this infographic will be able to calculate their current ability to organically finance their educations. Parents and students are invited to learn even more by visiting and requesting a quote on our page dedicated to student loans.