Look beyond the sticker price

When considering the cost of higher education, look beyond the published “sticker price.”

The sticker price is the advertised rates for tuition and fees—and it’s rarely what students actually pay.

Most students pay what’s known as “net price.” This amount factors in total costs when financial aid and scholarships are included. And most undergraduate students enrolled full-time at private, non-profit four-year colleges receive financial aid that significantly reduces the sticker price.

Columbia College awards scholarships automatically based on a student’s high school GPA and test scores.

Additionally, your student may qualify for federal grants, which do not have to be repaid.

So be sure to take into consideration those cost reductions when comparing colleges based on affordability.

Here are other factors to consider.

Columbia College offers fixed-rate tuition, which means your child’s tuition rate won’t increase for up to five consecutive years. That’s not the case at most other schools, meaning tuition rates could go up every year. Fixed-rate tuition not only locks in one rate, it makes it easier to anticipate the cost of an entire college experience.

Be sure to also consider other expenses such as fees. Some universities add extra fees onto all classes. Be sure to understand these costs when comparing colleges.

There are many factors attributed to finding a school that’s the perfect fit. Remember, though, that when narrowing down a college list, don’t let the sticker price get in the way. Always learn about all your tuition assistance options before ruling out a high-quality private education.