It’s no secret that college gets more expensive every year. For parents and students alike, the cost of college can be prohibitive. In fact, for many Americans, college is completely out of reach unless one is willing to be saddled with years’ worth of debt. It’s not just tuition that is making the cost of college rise. Here are five reasons that college has become unaffordable for millions:

1. Length of Education

On average, four-year colleges graduate only 55.5 percent of their students within six years. The average graduation time for a student is five and a half years. But why? For some students, scheduling is a problem. It’s not unusual for students to have to work to pay for college. To say that working and attending class is a difficult balance is an understatement. For other students, the high cost of tuition makes it impossible to take a full course load every semester.


2. Room and Board

The average yearly tuition of a public four-year school is $7605. The average cost of room and board at a public four-year school is $8,535 per year. If you must live at school, off-campus housing may be cheaper, particularly when you can split the cost of a house or apartment with roommates. Some schools offer resident advisors free room and board, but this position is often reserved for upperclassmen.

3. Unforeseen Changes

While college may be affordable for a family one year, changing circumstances can make it unaffordable the next. Life changes ranging from divorce to job loss can make it tremendously difficult to afford college tuition. Students, and families, who have experienced changes in their income level are strongly advised to contact the school’s financial aid office as soon as possible. Never assume that because you did not qualify for financial assistance at the beginning of the school year, you do not qualify in the middle of it.

4. Family Relationships

Your parents can claim you on their taxes until you are in your early 20’s. In other words, the four years you will spend in college after high school, you are considered a dependent. Not every child has a healthy relationship with his parents, nor does every child have parents who are willing to pay for a college education. This can make it difficult for young students to qualify for financial aid and, without aid, college attendance can be impossible.

Reading a Book

5. Books, Supplies and Fees

If you take a full course load, you can easily plan on needing at least four books. It’s not unusual for a new, unused college book to cost over $100. Add miscellaneous fees and supplies and a student can easily bump up the cost of college by $800 a semester. While this seems minimal to some, it is astronomical to many. Students are encouraged to rent their books instead of purchasing them and to shop at discount stores for supplies instead of the college book store.


Tuition isn’t the only thing that holds people back from obtaining a college education. In fact, tuition is doable for many. It’s the added costs of college that can make the dream of a higher education impossible to reach for the average American.

Brett Harris blogs for college sites that offer education you can afford and suggests checking out


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5 Reasons College Has Become Unaffordable for the Masses