This is the age old question.  How much will it cost me to get a college education? If we all knew before hand, wouldn’t we be able to make a better decision that would help us figure out the right path?  You should never choose a school based on how much it will cost you, but money is becoming a big factor.  There are so many students that are graduating college with massive student loan debt and it is becoming asinine.  We need a change in this country and many countries around the world or higher education will become unattainable for many.

This past weekend, I was reading the work and money section of my local newspaper.  I try to get a few stories in here and there, but there was one that stood out.  The article was talking about understand the costs of college and getting that number directly from colleges.  What?  How/Why would the college provide us with their costs before we even get admitted?  As I read further, I discovered a new service that was developed to help out prospective college students and their parents.

You can count on College Abacus

That is right, CollegeAbacus.com is a new service that provides you with financial aid estimates that come directly from the colleges.  You can pick your college of choice or you can browse the colleges within a certain category.  It will allow you to search for 3 different schools and will provide you with a simple breakdown of the costs.  You do have to input some information about yourself like your birthday, how much you make, and many other questions that are pretty general.

college cost comparison

Even though I am no longer in college, I decided to jump in and see what the costs of my college would be compared to another one that is popular with some online education chasers.  Here are the results of my school first, Appalachian State University.  If you don’t know what college this is, then just look up the Appalachian stunner of Michigan in a football game in 2007!  What, What!

appalachian state university cost

Here is the breakdown of another school that  many may be familiar with, University of Phoenix.  Now, this is a f0r-profit education school, but I thought it would be good to show how much it will cost you to go to this school.

University of Phoenix cost

I thought this tool was pretty awesome and while it is in beta, it can still be very useful.  They have many schools to add, but I am sure they will get there.  This should be another tool in the tool shed of prospective college students to make sure they are getting the best bang for their buck.  Go ahead and check out your college or one you are interested in.  The numbers might startle you.

Update: College Abacus commented to say that they will have all US schools in by September 2013.  Also, if you want some fun comparisons  and just to learn more, check out their blog.