Chart: Low Income + Expensive Stated Tuition ≠ Unaffordable Education

Chart: Low Income + Expensive Stated Tuition ≠ Unaffordable Education

Actual Cost Cropped Pic

  (Chart above has been cropped for space reasons. Click on it for the full version)


This chart comes to us courtesy of Jeff Guo of the Washington Post, who included it in his short article about how poorer students get caught in the trap of not applying for good, cheap schools because they seem expensive on the surface. Indeed, the gap between actual post-aid tuition costs and sticker price can be significant, particularly at private schools whose endowments provide flexibility to tier their prices and/or negotiate individually. As Mr. Guo points out, the tuition for poorer household students borders on zero at many schools notorious for exclusivity and expense. College finance experts have written on this time and time again but this week’s chart provides an excellent visual prompt to not accept a stated tuition at face value.

The upshot: in your quest to identify schools that fit your needs and your pocketbook, don’t out of hand overlook those schools which seem expensive but might offer good financial aid packages. As you filter schools for affordability be sure not to rely solely on sticker prices. Instead determine what your costs at an institution will look like, whether through aid-adjusted aggregate data or more personalized calculators.