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How Much Will College Cost When My Kid Turns 18?

By Team Tomorrow
Published September 13, 2021

And is College Still Worth It?

As college cost continues to double every nine years, many wonder if a diploma is still worth the price tag.

The cost of college should never rival the cost of buying a house without a mortgage. However, this is the reality for anyone paying for private in full. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the undergraduate tuition and fees at Columbia University were $60,532. 

Luckily, eight out of ten students pay less than the sticker price for a private school education. Many students receive federal aid based on their family’s financial situation, and scholarships based on the student’s qualifications. Still, according to Student Loan Hero:

  • Average debt at graduation from public and nonprofit colleges was $28,800 in 2019
  • 75% of graduates from private, nonprofit colleges had an average of $32,300 in student debt as of May 2018
  • 88% of graduates from for-profit colleges had an average of $39,950 in student debt as of May 2018
  • 44.7 million Americans currently owe over $1.71 trillion in student loan debt. That’s roughly $739 billion more than the total US credit card debt

Until we change our approach to paying for education, these numbers will continue to increase. 

Many families don’t even know what college will cost them before the application process begins. A 2019 report published on reveals half of net price calculators are misleading and two or more years out of date. At best, you have to guestimate how much college will cost based on your child’s age, where they want to go, and whatever fiscal data you can find online.

What Will College Cost on Average When Your Kid Turns 18?

Assuming things don’t change, here’s how much college will cost based on how old your child is. 

Note: These are the full costs of college, which most families will not have to pay, courtesy of Vanguard:

Child’s age Public 4-year school in state, tuition and fees only Public 4-year school in state, including room and board Average private 4-year school, tuition and fees only Average private 4-year school, including room and board
18 $42,240 $88,720 $150,600 $203,080
16 $50,181 $105,397 $178,910 $241,255
14 $55,324 $116,200 $197,248 $265,983
12 $60,994 $128,110 $217,446 $293,246
10 $67,246 $141,242 $239,756 $323,304
8 $74,138 $155,720 $264,331 $356,443
6 $81,737 $171,682 $291,425 $392,978
4 $90,116 $189,279 $321,295 $433,259
2 $99,354 $208,680 $354,228 $477,668
0 $109,538 $230,070 $390,537 $526,628


When the College Cost is Worth It

College graduates usually make more.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the median wage of a person with a high school diploma was $30,000 in 2020, while a person with a Bachelor’s degree averaged $50,000. These numbers vary based on geographic location. 

College degrees are required for many jobs.

If you want to become a teacher, nurse, lawyer, engineer, you’ll need a degree. Colleges open the doors to career paths that otherwise wouldn’t be possible without one.

College is both an education and growing experience.

You can learn a lot in your classes, but college also helps you grow as a person. It gives you the opportunity to develop other skills, like critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. College also gives you the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and points of view. Even if your beliefs don’t change, you’ll better understand where others are coming from.

When the Cost of College Isn’t Worth It

If the job of your dreams doesn’t require it.

If you can land the job of your dreams by going to trade school, community college, or apprenticeship program, you can save a lot of money. 

Your degree may not be worth it. 

Some degrees aren’t worth a 6-figure price tag (sorry anthropology majors). There are many jobs that only require a degree. Just understand that if you wish to pursue a degree with low salary prospects, you may struggle for a while to make ends meet. 

If you don’t graduate.

The National Center for Education Statistics discovered that only 62% of college students finish their degree within six years. That means as many as 38% of college students leave school with debt and no diploma.

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your family to determine if the cost of college is worth it. There are plenty of ways to financially plan for college, whether you invest in a 529 plan or with permanent life insurance

Whatever your plan is, we can help you secure your family’s future.

Don’t have Life Insurance? Well we made it easy for you to apply for reliable life insurance through our simplified and streamlined online application process. No exam | No waiting | No hassles | Fast, free quote!



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