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Paying for College

Figuring the Cost

Knowing how much you'll need for your college-bound kid is the first step.

There's something a little out of whack when families secretly hope that their kids won't get into the college of their dreams.

But imagine the fear of two-income, middle-class parents with an overachieving son or daughter who wants to attend Harvard. The cost is staggering: The total for four years' tuition, room and board comes close to $154,000 for the 2002-2003 school year. If your Harvard-bound scholar is a newborn, expect the cost to soar 140% -- to $374,400 -- in 18 years.

Of course not all universities are as expensive as Harvard. You can use the cost calculator below for a quick estimate of what you could expect.

Type of school the student will attend: *
Years until student enters college:
College-cost inflation rate:
Total projected cost:
* Public college is assumed to have a yearly cost (in today's dollars) of $11,500. For the expensive private college, this figure is $36,000 and for the average private college, $25,000. If you're not sure which type of school the student will attend, average private college is a safe bet.

Need smelling salts?


Don't worry the good news is you probably won't have to foot the entire bill -- financial aid will help some. But the more you save now, the more options your students will have tomorrow.

The ABCs of Saving for College
Smart Strategies