Cost of a College Class or Credit Hour

Report Highlights. The average American college charges $559 per credit hour. Most college courses are worth 3 credit hours, meaning one college class costs $1,677.

  • The average public, 4-year university charges in-state residents $396 per credit hour or $1,188 per course.
  • The average private, nonprofit university charges $1,492 per credit hour or $4,476 per course.
  • Community college students may pay an average of $142 per credit hour or $426 per course.
  • After accounting for books, supplies, and additional expenses, such as room and board, the average postsecondary education costs $1,370 per credit hour or $4,110.
  • When including the cost of student loan debt and lost income, the ultimate cost of college may exceed $5,350 per credit hour or $16,050 per course.

Related research includes the Average Cost of College & Tuition | College Enrollment & Student Demographic Statistics | Average Cost of Community College | How Do People Pay for College? | Student Loan Debt Statistics | Financial Aid Statistics | Student Loan Refinancing

Bar Graph: Cost Per Credit Hour at Postsecondary Institutions

College Cost Per Credit Hour

When reporting the cost per credit hour, academic institutions refer only to charges applied to tuition and fees. This does not include books and supplies.

  • The average cost per credit hour at any public postsecondary institution is $317; the cost per course is $951.
  • The average cost per credit hour at any private postsecondary institution is $1,353; the cost per course is $4,059.
  • Private, nonprofit institutions charge $1,486 per credit hour; for-profit institutions charge $206 per credit hour.
  • The average cost per credit hour at any 4-year institution is $701.
    • The average cost per credit hour at a public, 4-year institution is $396.
    • For out-of-state students, public universities charge $1,101 per credit hour.
    • $1,367 is the average cost per credit hour at any private, 4-year institution.
    • Nonprofit, 4-year institutions charge $1,492 per credit hour; for-profit, 4-year institutions charge $632.
  • The average cost per credit hour at any 2-year institution is $153.
    • $142 is the average cost per credit hour for in-district students at any public, 2-year institution or community college.
    • For in-state students at community colleges, $185 is the average cost per credit hour.
    • Community colleges charge out-of-state students an average of $355 per credit hour.
    • $675 is the average cost per credit hour at a private, 2-year institution.
    • Nonprofit, 2-year institutions cost $714 per credit hour; for-profit institutions charge $659.

Additional Expenses

Including books and supplies, the cost per credit hour at any institution naturally increases. Other common expenses include room & board, and indirect expenses, such as potential lost income.

  • Including books and supplies, the average public postsecondary institution costs $371 per credit hour.
  • With the addition of room and board, the average cost is $813 per credit hour.
  • Additional expenses bring the cost per credit hour up to $961.
  • The average private postsecondary institution costs $1,402 per credit hour when including books and supplies.
  • $1,155 is the average cost per credit hour when including room and board.
  • Additional expenses bring the cost per credit hour up to $1,278.
  • The loss of potential annual income adds $1,653 per credit hour to the cost of a college education.
  • The inclusion of student loan interest may increase the cost per credit hour by a further $1,582.
Total Cost Per Credit Hour by Institution Type
Public Private
4-Year
In-State
4-Year
Out-of-State
2-Year
In-District
4-Year
Nonprofit
4-Year
For-profit
2-Year
Nonprofit
2-Year
For-profit
Tuition $396 $1,101 $142 $1,492 $632 $714 $659
+ Books & Supplies $450 $1,155 $204 $1,541 $682 $767 $721
+ Room & Board $892 $1,597 $499 $1,995 $1,175 $1,160 $1,205
+ Other
(Total)
$1,036 $1,741 $648 $2,118 $1,342 $1,309 $1,323
+ Lost Income $2,689 $3,394 $2,301 $3,771 $2,995 $2,962 $2,976
+ Loan Debt* $4,271 $4,976 $3,883 $5,353 $4,577 $4,544 $4,558

*Note there is wide variation in amounts borrowed and interest rates.

Line Graph: Historical Average Cost of College Per Credit Hour, Selected Years from 1963 to 2020

Historical College Costs

College and related costs have increased substantially over the last six decades even after adjusting for inflation.

  • In 1963, the average postsecondary institution charged $21 per credit hour or $179 per credit hour when adjusted for inflation.
  • The average cost per credit hour at a public university was $10 in 1963; adjusted for inflation, that’s $86 per credit hour.
  • Community colleges in 1963 charged $4 per credit hour, or $34 when adjusted for inflation.
  • Private 4-year institutions charged $42 per credit hour, or $357 when adjusted for inflation.

Line Graph: Historical College Cost Per Credit Hour, values adjusted for currency inflation, selected years 1963 to 2021

Cost Per Credit Hour by State

Statistics indicate that enrolling in a public institution as a nonresident or out-of-state student may be more expensive than attending a private school.

  • Among public, 4-year institutions, Vermont schools charge the highest rate per credit hour for in-state students at $713.
  • Florida public universities are the most affordable for residents at $191 per credit hour.
  • California community colleges charge the lowest rates at $55 per credit hour.
  • North Dakota charges the lowest rates to out-of-state students at $668 per credit hour.
  • Hawaii’s community colleges are the most expensive, charging $355 per credit hour.
  • Maryland charges the most for nonresidents at $1,851 per credit hour.
Average Cost Per Credit Hour by State
Most to Least Expensive In-State Public Universities
Rank State Public 4-Year Public 2-Year
In-State Out-Of-State
1 Vermont $713 $1,714 $306
2 New Hampshire $701 $1,264 $326
3 Pennsylvania $636 $1,224 $227
4 Illinois $612 $1,224 $170
5 New Jersey $585 $1,230 $202
6 Virginia $576 $1,497 $1,003
7 Massachusetts $570 $1,329 $223
8 South Carolina $558 $1,381 $203
9 Connecticut $556 $1,447 $190
10 Michigan $553 $1,538 $154
11 Rhode Island $540 $1,287 $196
12 Minnesota $488 $978 $231
13 Kentucky $458 $1,187 $183
14 Arizona $458 $1,132 $93
15 Delaware $455 $1,305
16 Oregon $441 $1,327 $202
17 Alabama $435 $1,106 $189
18 Ohio $432 $1,399 $175
19 Iowa $428 $1,052 $220
20 Hawaii $427 $1,355 $355
21 Maine $426 $1,190 $161
22 Tennessee $420 $1,119 $184
23 Maryland $409 $1,851 $181
24 Colorado $403 $1,294 $157
25 Louisiana $402 $953 $178
National Average $396 $1,101 $142
26 Indiana $396 $1,249 $187
27 Kansas $384 $1,000 $147
28 South Dakota $376 $535 $265
29 Wisconsin $373 $1,076 $189
30 Texas $372 $1,074 $97
31 Nebraska $368 $923 $136
32 Missouri $367 $855 $144
33 Alaska $360 $1,049
34 Arkansas $360 $894 $141
35 Mississippi $358 $856 $140
36 New York $351 $948 $230
37 California $348 $1,349 $55
38 North Dakota $347 $558 $210
39 West Virginia $344 $944 $184
40 Oklahoma $338 $924 $176
41 Idaho $326 $1,024 $144
42 Georgia $314 $976 $125
43 North Carolina $308 $986 $107
44 Washington $302 $1,254 $179
45 Montana $299 $1,051 $161
46 New Mexico $296 $788 $73
47 Utah $289 $925 $165
48 Nevada $251 $907
49 Wyoming $197 $612 $138
50 Florida $191 $1,129 $108
2018 values updated for 2020

Alabama

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $435 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,106 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $692 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $189 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $413 per credit hour to attend Alabama community colleges.

Alaska

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $360 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,049 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $829 per credit hour.
  • There is no statistically meaningful data available regarding the cost per credit hour at public, 2-year institutions or community colleges in Alaska.

Arizona

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $458 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,132 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $546 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $93 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $365 per credit hour to attend Arizona community colleges.

Arkansas

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $360 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $894 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $995 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $141 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $202 per credit hour to attend Arkansas community colleges.

California

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $348 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,349 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,525 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $55 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $337 per credit hour to attend California community colleges.

Colorado

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $403 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,294 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,011 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $157 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $337 per credit hour to attend Colorado community colleges.

Connecticut

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $556 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,447 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,794 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $190 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $567 per credit hour to attend Connecticut community colleges.

Delaware

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $455 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,305 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $633 per credit hour.
  • There is no statistically meaningful data available regarding the cost per credit hour at public, 2-year institutions or community colleges in Delaware.

District of Columbia

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $253 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $533 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,852 per credit hour.
  • There is no statistically meaningful data available regarding the cost per credit hour at public, 2-year institutions or community colleges in the District of Columbia.

Florida

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $191 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $792 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,129 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $108 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $391 per credit hour to attend Florida community colleges.

Georgia

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $314 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $976 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,238 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $125 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $345 per credit hour to attend Georgia community colleges.

Hawaii

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $427 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,355 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $734 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $135 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $355 per credit hour to attend Hawaii community colleges.

Idaho

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $326 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,024 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $263 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $144 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $342 per credit hour to attend Idaho community colleges.

Illinois

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $612 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,224 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,434 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $170 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $493 per credit hour to attend Illinois community colleges.

Indiana

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $396 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,249 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,434 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $187 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $361 per credit hour to attend Indiana community colleges.

Iowa

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $428 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,052 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,451 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $220 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $277 per credit hour to attend Iowa community colleges.

Kansas

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $384 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,000 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $969 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $147 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $193 per credit hour to attend Kansas community colleges.

Kentucky

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $458 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,091 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,187 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $183 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $619 per credit hour to attend Kentucky community colleges.

Louisiana

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $402 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $953 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,624 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $178 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $345 per credit hour to attend Louisiana community colleges.

Maine

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $426 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,190 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,673 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $161 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $284 per credit hour to attend Maine community colleges.

Maryland

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $409 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,154 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,851 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $181 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $429 per credit hour to attend Maryland community colleges.

Massachusetts

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $570 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,329 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,975 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $223 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $455 per credit hour to attend Massachusetts community colleges.

Michigan

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $553 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,538 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,199 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $154 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $273 per credit hour to attend Michigan community colleges.

Minnesota

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $488 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $978 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,425 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $231 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $255 per credit hour to attend Minnesota community colleges.

Mississippi

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $358 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $856 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $770 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $140 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $245 per credit hour to attend Mississippi community colleges.

Missouri

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $367 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $855 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,091 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $144 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $281 per credit hour to attend Missouri community colleges.

Montana

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $299 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,051 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,112 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $161 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $360 per credit hour to attend Montana community colleges.

Nebraska

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $368 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $923 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,076 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $136 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $171 per credit hour to attend Nebraska community colleges.

Nevada

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $251 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $907 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,048 per credit hour.
  • There is no statistically meaningful data available regarding the cost per credit hour at public, 2-year institutions or community colleges in Nevada.

New Hampshire

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $701 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,264 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,432 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $326 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $705 per credit hour to attend New Hampshire community colleges.

New Jersey

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $585 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,230 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,602 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $202 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $354 per credit hour to attend New Jersey community colleges.

New Mexico

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $296 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $788 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,293 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $73 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $287 per credit hour to attend New Mexico community colleges.

New York

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $351 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $948 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,739 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $230 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $395 per credit hour to attend New York community colleges.

North Carolina

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $308 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $986 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,459 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $107 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $371 per credit hour to attend North Carolina community colleges.

North Dakota

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $347 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $668 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $653 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $210 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $399 per credit hour to attend North Dakota community colleges.

Ohio

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $432 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,049 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,399 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $175 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $313 per credit hour to attend Ohio community colleges.

Oklahoma

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $338 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $924 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,189 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $176 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $403 per credit hour to attend Oklahoma community colleges.

Oregon

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $441 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,327 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,742 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $202 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $377 per credit hour to attend Oregon community colleges.

Pennsylvania

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $636 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,224 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,790 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $227 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $606 per credit hour to attend Pennsylvania community colleges.

Rhode Island

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $540 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,287 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,807 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $196 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $522 per credit hour to attend Rhode Island community colleges.

South Carolina

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $558 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,381 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,100 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $203 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $424 per credit hour to attend South Carolina community colleges.

South Dakota

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $376 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $535 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $998 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $265 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $251 per credit hour to attend South Dakota community colleges.

Tennessee

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $420 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,119 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,205 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $184 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $712 per credit hour to attend Tennessee community colleges.

Texas

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $372 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,074 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,480 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $97 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $254 per credit hour to attend Texas community colleges.

Utah

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $289 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $925 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $337 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $165 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $524 per credit hour to attend Utah community colleges.

Vermont

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $713 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,714 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,891 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $306 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $605 per credit hour to attend Vermont community colleges.

Virginia

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $576 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,497 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,003 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $225 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $492 per credit hour to attend Virginia community colleges.

Washington

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $302 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,254 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,663 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $179 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $244 per credit hour to attend Washington community colleges.

West Virginia

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $344 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $944 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $537 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $184 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $422 per credit hour to attend West Virginia community colleges.

Wisconsin

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $373 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $1,076 per credit hour.
  • Private universities charge $1,477 per credit hour.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $189 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $275 per credit hour to attend Wisconsin community colleges.

Wyoming

  • At public 4-year institutions, in-state students pay $197 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $612 per credit hour.
  • There is no statistically meaningful data available regarding the cost per credit hour at private, 4-year institutions in Wyoming.
  • At public, 2-year institutions or community colleges, in-state students pay $138 per credit hour.
  • Out-of-state students pay $333 per credit hour to attend Wyoming community colleges.

Analysis: Pay Less Per Credit Hour

Most institutions only charge per credit hour up to 12 credit hours per semester. In other words, once students pay for a 12-hour course load, any additional courses they may take are essentially free. As a result, some students enroll in 15 or 18 credit hours per semester. This strategy may decrease the end cost of a college education in many ways.

In addition to “free” classes, a larger course load may accelerate the student’s academic timeline. A bachelor’s degree that usually takes four or five years to earn may be attainable in just over three years. This gives the student an additional year or two in the workforce.

A reduced cost per credit hour also reduces the amount a student may need to borrow in order to attend school. The student will not only have a smaller debt balance to begin with but a reduction in the amount of interest they will ultimately have to pay.

Unfortunately, an increased course load is more demanding, with more time spent studying and attending classes. Such a schedule leaves little time for a part-time job, extracurricular activities, or relaxation. As a result, a student’s academic performance may suffer. For these reasons and more, many schools require special dispensation to take an increased course load.

Statistics indicate that most students require four to six years to complete a bachelor’s degree. While 30% of bachelor’s degree holders earn their degree within four years, a further 35% earn a degree within six years. Additionally, 10%-21% of college students are diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety each year. It is possible that a heavy course load may be too stressful for some students, who may, as a result, have to withdraw from courses or take some courses a second time. Such setbacks may have financial consequences and may add to the student’s time in school.

Sources

  1. National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), Digest of Education Statistics
  2. CBS News, Cost of Living Increasing At Fastest Rate in 10 Years
  3. Spots, Benefits of Therapy Dogs
  4. Department of Numbers, US Residential Rent and Rental Statistics
  5. Apartment List, How Have Rents Changed Since 1960?