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High Schoolers Don’t Know What College Really Costs

A new study from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests that high school students and their parents do not have a clear idea of what tuition costs are to enroll in a public four-year institution in their home state.

One of the major challenges to improving college-going rates is help families understand the costs of attending college. For families with means, it’s a matter of setting accurate targets of savings and possible colleges. For other families, it’s a matter of understanding what their options are when pursuing financial aid and other support to make college a reality.

Here’s the rub: according to the study, of the ninth graders surveyed, the majority (57%) overestimated tuition and fees. About one-third (32%) underestimated, and 11% were close to accurate. Inaccurate estimates were the norm across racial and ethnic groups.

As noted in the study, “uncertainty about college costs and the availability of financial aid has been associated with under-enrollment among low-income and minority students.”

Click here to read more by Scott Jaschik, Editor of Inside Higher Ed.