Depending on a student’s household income, the average annual cost for college can range from zero to tens of thousands of dollars. For example, Duke University has a sticker price of $78,608 for everything–tuition, fees, room and board, personal expenses, books and supplies. Most students do not end up paying the full cost, the amount varying across families. Having a family income below $30,000 makes students eligible to receive federal financial aid, enabling them to pay next to nothing to attend the university. Those who have an average annual income of $110,001 or more pay an average annual cost of $52,081.
These calculations can be difficult to estimate. However, having a net price calculator is one of the best resources for this, and is required on all websites of colleges that participate in federal aid programs. This method requires personal information, such as household income and student dependency status. The College Scorecard is an additional option, which includes school-specific undergraduate data, such as average annual cost, graduation rate and median annual earnings of former students. Unlike the net price calculator, the College Scorecard does not require any personal information to use.