College costs are skyrocketing. Here’s how you can help support your family financially.

You want the best for your family — and that includes the best possible education for children or grandchildren. From college savings plans to financial aid and academic merit scholarships, here’s what you need to know to help cover education costs.

How much does college really cost?

Tuition prices can vary widely depending on the type of institution and where it’s located. And that’s just the starting point. The actual cost of college includes additional expenses, such as housing, meal plans, books, and travel to and from home.

Average published full-year tuition and fees for full-time students 2021 – 2022Footnote 1

Bar graph with 3 items showing college costs from highest to lowest: The first bar shows $38,070 for private nonprofit four-year college; the second bar shows $27,560 for public four-year out-of-state college; the third bar shows $10,740 for public four-year in-state.

The cost of tuition is likely to continue to rise


The rate, on average, that tuition increases each yearFootnote 2

How you can help

There are many options for how you can contribute to the cost of education, including:

  • Funding a college savings plan
  • Saving in a taxable account
  • Paying tuition fees directly
  • Giving money through a gift, loan, or trust

How college costs are typically coveredFootnote 3

Chart graph showing how college costs are covered during the academic years 2020 through 2021. From largest to smallest: 45% comes from parent income and savings. 25% from scholarships and grants. 20% from borrowing. 8% from student income and savings. 2% from relatives and friends.

* Consult with a tax advisor on your specific situation.

Explore grants and scholarships

The are many ways for your children or grandchildren to find potential financial aid. Encourage them to work with their school counselor to seek scholarships based on academic merit and many other criteria at resources like the U.S. Department of Education’s student financial aid site and the Tuition Funding Sources' scholarship database.

$100 million

The estimated scholarship amount that goes unawarded annually, mainly due to a lack of applicantsFootnote 4

Consider tax implications

Some giving strategies can have tax ramifications and potentially affect student aid. Considering contributing to a college savings plan, where money grows tax-free. Be sure to consult with a tax advisor on your specific situation.

Here’s more on saving for a child’s education — and protecting your own financial securityLearn more