Finding an Affordable College Just Got Easier

Summer is here, and many recent high school graduates may still be weighing which college or university to attend during the upcoming fall semester. ED’s recently-launched College Affordability and Transparency Center is making that decision much easier by providing students and their families with an easy-to-use website that identifies the most reasonably-priced universities, as well as the institutions whose prices rise at the highest rates.

The Affordability and Transparency Center not only allows college applicants and their families to compare tuition rates at colleges and universities, but students can pinpoint their search on a variety of criteria, including whether the college is a two- or four-year program, public or private, or a for-profit or not-for-profit college. The site also allows comparisons of the cost of a year at college based on its listed tuition and fees or its “net price” (tuition and fees minus grant and scholarship aid). To find the cost of a specific vocational program, there is a search feature to compare the costs of similar career programs—such as nursing or computer science—across different schools. Finally, to keep students and families prepared for the future, the Affordability and Transparency Center lets you see which colleges have the highest annual tuition or net cost increases.

Higher education is a strong investment, and it is crucial that families and students are able to make informed decisions. Through the College Affordability and Transparency Center, ED is providing valuable data on which colleges are the most cost-effective. Students shouldn’t rule out college because they can’t find one that suits their budget—the Center will help students and families find the right school with the right program at the right price.

Get started by visiting ED’s College Affordability and Transparency Center.

Ben Firke is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the Department of Education


  1. I’m completing my undergraduate degree December 16, 2011. I have just a few classes to complete my undergraduate degree. I would like to go to a Law School earning a Dr. of Jurisprudence Degree to become a licensed attorney. It is confusing because the lower priced school graduates are not eligible for the American Bar Examination. To be a lawyer I must pass the Bar Exam, which is the way it is, but finding a school affordable. Please comment?

  2. After checking College Affordability Center, I see that there are numbers for retention rates – and it’s worse than I thought. Looking at Albuquerque, NM and Santa Fe, grad rates as low as 8%-9%? If these were businesses, they would have gone under long ago. And the largest school in the state, Univ of New Mexico, isn’t even reporting retention figures since 2003? I don’t know if most people realize this or not, but do you know that college professors are not required to take ANY classes in Education in order to teach? How messed up is that? Post-secondary education is the MOST expensive, HIGHEST level of instruction. This system is charged with educating our country’s future professionals – and it has no basis in successful teaching methods OR skills!!! What good is a professor’s knowledge if he/she CANNOT impart that knowledge to OTHERS?!? No wonder our country is crying out for qualified workers.

  3. What I would like to see are graduation rate comparisons. I agree with Kevin that talking to Admission offices is like talking to used card salesmen. I attended community college this past Spring and was aghast at the low quality of instruction, while simultaneously shocked by the obvious lack of basic educational skills of students. It was plain to see some people would NEVER graduate because the educational system had failed them throughout their academic lives – and yet their money, probably grants (taxpayer money), had been taken by the school and the student admitted. My daughter had a similar experience at two public four-year colleges. I can’t call them “diploma mills”, because they don’t even DO THAT! Where is the accountability for post-secondary education? Why are they allowed to produce abysmal graduation rates of 15%-17%? The federal gov’t DOES need to step in here. The schools have no incentive to improve on their own. In fact, the more classes you drop due to incompetent professors – the longer you stay in school – and the more money they make off you!!! Meanwhile, you are out of a productive, higher paying career field longer while taking on MORE student loan debt! This is no way to educate a workforce or improve people’s lives – which in turn is good for the country. Lack of prosperity ultimately hurts EVERYONE.

  4. Hi. I am from Tajikistan and wanna study in the US. I need information of the cheapest-fee colleges in NY. Am grateful if you help me.

  5. I graduated in 2008 from my local 2 year college with honors. I still can’t figure out how to get into a 4 year program because all these programs from various schools are different and to talk to admission reps is like talking to used car salesman. Sign up and take out loans is all I hear. I am 36 years old with two preadolesent aged kids. I have no job and my wife works overtime to support us. She is in college as well. I can’t afford to make the wrong decission for college so I haven’t made one. How do you finish college as an adult with no means for support? I know I qualify but where is the transparency for us impoverished individuals that want to finish school but don’t have the means or are brave enough to go deep in debt with school loans while the prospects for jobs are so poor. In other words, Why would the federal government send me to college for only two years and not help give me the means to finish my bachellors?

    • Hi Kevin,

      Have you applied for FAFSA? And has your EFC determine that you were not eligible to recieve financial aid? Aside from accepting a student loan, wether through the federal government or your local bank, you can always apply for scholarships offered by the university you are attending,, or outside grants on sites like Hope that helps!

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