College Costs Overview for Wyoming residents

 

2022/23 Academic Year

College applicants and their families face not just a big life choice and the challenge of being accepted to schools, they face a complicated maze of information on how much their college career will cost.  This report will allow you to know the true costs of colleges, so that you can finance a college degree and set up a successful post-graduate life.

  • Apply to colleges which you know you can afford
  • Plan financially and save and borrow the right amount to fund costs across all years of the program
  • Once accepted, better understand the financial context of your financial aid offer and the scope for any negotiations with the college on their proposed cost

This report also provides some of the basics on how the prices you will pay for colleges are set as well as objective cost data about popular schools for students residing in your state.  These numbers are based on reported figures by the colleges themselves with projections to account for future price changes.  

The information will not indicate exactly how much each student will pay your college.  But it will give a broadly accurate and readily understandable general idea, allowing you to compare colleges in financial terms and to plan for a successful college journey.  

How college costs work

  • Advertised college tuition prices are often far higher than what the typical student pays. Many colleges offer significant discounts to this headline tuition depending on an applicant’s
    • family financial income & assets 
    • demographics 
    • academic record
    • and decisions made by the college’s admissions or enrollment offices
  • Comparing college costs on an apples-to-apples basis is difficult and time consuming. College net price calculators are often outdated and don’t reflect true costs.
  • When an applicant is accepted to a college, they will receive a financial aid award letter highlighting what their costs will be if they enroll.  These awards all differ by student.
  • Cost information provided by colleges and other sources often deduct loans from the cost, unlike most other consumer purchases you make
  • Most state colleges and universities have essentially two pricing processes, one for in-state and one for out-of-state students.  
  • Applying early increases your chances of getting into a given college but also increases your cost by lowering, often significantly, the amount of financial aid you will be offered.

Contents

  • Average costs for popular in- and out-of-state schools
  • Community Colleges
  • College pricing and the Expected Family Contribution 
  • Ways to reduce college costs
  • Scenarios showing projected costs by college for 7 representative families with different incomes and financial profiles
    • Scenario: Students with families with an average of $15,000 in annual income (<$10,000 in financial assets and home equity of <$40,000)
    • Scenario: Students with families with an average of $40,000 in annual income ($10,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $50,000)
    • Scenario: Students with families with an average of $60,000 in annual income ($20,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $90,000)
    • Scenario: Students with families with an average of $90,000 in annual income ($200,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $120,000)
    • Scenario: Students with families with an average of $150,000 in annual income ($250,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $150,000)
    • Scenario: Students with families with an average of $200,000 in annual income ($500,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $200,000)
    • Scenario: Students with families with an average of $300,000 in annual income ($950,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $350,000)
  • Online or Distance Schools
  • Glossary

In-state colleges, by average cost

The average net cost found here represents a projected average amount entering freshmen will pay for tuition, room & board, fees, books & other course materials.  Net costs are not reduced by loans, which represent an obligation and are not a price reduction.  The analogy here is buying a house or condo, where the cost is not reduced because you take out a mortgage to finance the purchase.  

Notes on figures

  • Net cost is a consumer-centric metric comparable to what cost means in business transactions outside of higher education.  It represents a student’s cost of attending college including: tuition, room & board, fees and estimates of supplies less institutional aid of all kinds (including need-based and merit), and less federal and state/local aid.  Loans and other repayable amounts are excluded and do not reduce the cost.  Room and board uses on-campus costs; for students attending nonresidential institutions, the college’s own estimate of such off-campus costs is used.  Total average net cost for all students allocates in- and out-of-state costs in proportion to attendance.  Net cost differs from the Net Price figure self-reported by colleges to the NCES because it is comprehensive and covers all students, including the approximately 40% not covered by Net Price calculations.
  • CC = Community College
  • Number of undergraduates represent all enrolled full-time students as of 2018/19.
  • % of Applicants admitted from 2019/20.  
  • The SAT score is intended to give a very rough idea of the academic level of entering students.  This number shows the 25thpercentile of enrolled students out of 100% and adds together the verbal and math SAT and ACT scores using the ACT/SAT concordance formula developed by ACT and the College Board.  The maximum possible score is 1600.
  • The “% of students receiving discounts” is the 2018/19 figure showing what % of enrolled students are receiving price discounts from their colleges.  This % does not include aid from the government, such as Pell grants, or other federal or state aid.  It also does not include students borrowing to pay for college.
  • These comments all apply to tables later in this report except where noted.

Popular out-of-state colleges, by average cost

Community Colleges

Community colleges are presented differently from 4-year colleges because of how they manage the prices they charge, such as offering discounted tuition to in-county residents, sometimes providing on-campus housing and sometimes not, and educating a larger proportion of part-time and distance (online) students.  The “In-state Tuition, Fees and Supplies” number presented above, dating from 2018/19, is intended to remove these factors and make the prices easier to compare.  

Notes on figures

  • Number of undergraduates represent all enrolled full-time and part-time students as of 2018/19.
  • “In-state Tuition, Fees and Supplies” is a figure provided by the colleges covering full-time tuition, supplies and fees but NOT room & board.  This is a cleaner way to compare community college pricing for several reasons.  The proportion of tuition paid by Pell Grants depends on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and is determined by the federal government, not any decision by the college.  Some but not all community colleges offer dormitories.  Finally, the number of part-time students and the discounted tuition often granted to in-county students makes the comparison of net prices even more complex than for traditional 4-year colleges.
  • The Average Net Cost figures used in this report extrapolate from data provided by the colleges themselves to the federal government and the public, projected to the current year.  It represents full-time tuition and includes room & board, supplies, fees less aid and grants from the colleges and the government. It standardizes calculations across colleges and is comparable to the Net costs used for 4-year colleges.  Individual student costs will vary based on circumstances, so this figure only provides guidance.  This figure does have the benefit of showing you how much a typical community college student will spend.
  • The cost of on-campus room & board dates from 2019/20 and is only presented for colleges providing residential housing.  The schools’ estimates of off-campus housing costs are not included.

College pricing and the Expected Family Contribution 

To receive any sort of aids and loans, US colleges require filing of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which calculates the Expected Family Contribution (the “EFC”).  Discussions of college costs often make reference to the EFC, which is a federal statutory calculation that governs financing student college costs.  It is NOT the same as the pricing, which is determined by supply and demand and the college’s own cost structure.  To repeat, the cost of college is how much you will pay the college; the EFC determines your eligibility for loans or certain grants.  Pricing; financing – two different things.

The charts below illustrate this distinction for a college with a “Cost of attendance” of $60,000.  (The cost of attendance includes the full listed as-advertised tuition, room & board, estimated costs for materials and other fees.)

The College Board Big Future site offers a handy way to calculate this in advance of completing all the paperwork:

College Board EFC Calculator

Note that the EFC will be renamed the Student Aid Index beginning in the 2023/24 academic year.  The FAFSA filing after this change is expected to be much simpler and quicker to complete, but the fundamental formula is unchanged.

Federal Student Loans 

Student loans are a complex topic outside of the scope of this report.  

2021/2022 interest rates for the federal student loan program are:

  • Direct (unsubsidized & subsidized): 3.73%.  
  • Direct PLUS is set at 6.28%. 
  • Private loan interest rate are set by the market, partly depend on the parents’ credit score and come in a variety of types.   

Federal student loan interest rates are fixed and do not change after the initial borrowing.  Because of the topic’s complexity, we recommend you go straight to the source and read the Department of Education site for more information:

Federal Student Aid

A smaller group of mostly selective colleges also require submission of the CSS Profile in addition to FAFSA.  The CSS Profile is a more detailed report on the financial profile of a student and their family. It is used in different ways by these colleges to assess how much students and their families should pay.  One key difference between the FAFSA and CSS Profile schools is that the equity value of the home often (but not always) affects the level of financial aid offered.

The FAFSA and CSS Profile use prior year income for the initial FAFSA filing, so a 2021 senior’s FAFSA would depend on their 2019 earnings. 

Decision and Early Action

Giving students discounts and breaks on full tuition is common business practice in higher education.  Information about discounts granted to Early Decision and Early Action candidates is not compiled but a large amount of anecdotal evidence points to discounts for accepted students in Early Decision being much less generous than for the regular application period.  So a student’s decision to apply Early Decision conveys to the college both their strong interest in attending and their willingness and ability to pay full costs.   Applying through Early Action conveys strong interest but leaves latitude for negotiating financial aid.  Because each student’s situation will be different, applicants are advised to think of the application process in part as a negotiation and to use the different application options as signals to the college.

Ways to save on college costs

There are a number of options beyond college choices to limit spending on college.  The right choice depends on the student’s needs.  They include:

  • Studying for a year or two at a community college, institutions which are generally cheaper than 4-year programs, and then transferring into a Bachelor’s program.
  • Completing credits at high school or via distance learning outside of actual college attendance
  • Making sure to complete the bachelor’s program on time
  • Applying for and obtaining scholarships

The first two will require acceptance of credits by the 4-year Bachelor’s program in which you ultimately enroll.  While there are certain standards that apply in these scenarios, the ultimate decision will depend on the college accepting the student.

Fit

One important way to limit spending is to make sure the college you enroll in is a “fit.”  When recruiting students, colleges are very focused on fit – on making sure that a college matches up well with a student’s personal and professional objectives.  This is because fit helps both the student and the college.  Lack of fit directly contributes to students dropping out or transferring to another school, both of which increase the costs of obtaining a degree.  So proper matching of applications with schools is an important factor in college costs.

How to find scholarships and grants

The College Board’s Big Future and Sallie Mae’s Scholarship Search site are both excellent places to find information on scholarships:

College Board Big Future

Sallie Mae Scholarship Search

Scholarships.com and Fastweb also both provide free searches of many scholarships:

Scholarships.com

Fastweb

Finally, two separate but similarly named sites, Collegescholarships.com  and Collegescholarships.org, valuably provide lists of scholarships limited to residents of specific states, counties and municipalities.

Collegescholarships.com

Collegescholarships.org

 

 

 

Financial Scenarios

While the average costs above are an informative first cut, the impact of their family’s individual financial position on the amount a college charges a specific student is significant.  The following section lays out a set of scenarios showing estimated costs for students with different family financial profiles.  These are estimates and are intended as a baseline guide to help you decide on a short list of colleges to which to apply and to navigate the application and acceptance process with objective financial information.

Factors that increase or decrease the amount colleges charge a student:

  • Family income
  • Family financial assets
  • Amount of equity in the family home (only selected colleges)
  • Academic performance in high school, board scores
  • Student’s demographic profile (including whether the parents have college degrees)

Other factors, such as whether other students in the household are also enrolled in college, marital status (married or not), and student income and savings play a generally smaller role.

Notes on figures

  • For categories identical to those used to the in- and out-of-state average costs tables above, earlier comments apply.
  • The colleges are ranked highest to lowest according to projected 2021/22 net cost.
  • The “Full cost of a 4-year degree, Projected” represents an estimate of the total net costs for a class of ’25 student completing their Bachelor’s degree in 4 years.
  • Scenarios 5, 6 and 7 assume a dual-earner married household with two children, the prospective college student who is a public high school senior and a younger sibling, with financial and home equity assets conforming to US government data on income and assets.  The couple does not own their own business or investment real estate and is not the beneficiary of a trust.  The prospective college student has no children, earned a small amount last year and is a dependent for IRS purposes.  Once enrolled in college, the student would be enrolled full-time and live on campus.  
  • Disclaimer: These financial estimates represent informational projections that will change over time. They do not represents promises or commitments by CTAS or the colleges themselves. Final net cost numbers will differ from these estimates for many reasons.  

Scenario

Students with families with an average of $15,000 in annual income.  Families in this income range on average have <$10,000 in financial assets and home equity of <$40,000 (Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances). 

2022-23 projected average net cost for selected colleges including both in- and out-of-state schools.

Scenario

Students with families with an average of $40,000 in annual income.  Families in this income range on average have approximately $10,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $50,000 (Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances).

2022-23 projected average net cost for selected colleges including both in- and out-of-state schools.

Scenario

Scenario: Students with families with an average of $60,000 in annual income.  Families in this income range on average have approximately $20,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $90,000 (Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances). 

2022-23 projected average net cost for selected colleges including both in- and out-of-state schools.

Scenario

 Students with families with an average of $90,000 in annual income.  Families in this income range on average have approximately $200,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $120,000 (Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances). 

2022-23 projected average net cost for selected colleges including both in- and out-of-state schools.

Scenario

 Students with families with an average of $150,000 in annual income, $250,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $150,000 (in line with data from Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances).

2022-23 projected average net cost for selected colleges including both in- and out-of-state schools.

Scenario

 Students with families with an average of $200,000 in annual income, $500,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $200,000 (in line with data from Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances).

2022-23 projected average net cost for selected colleges including both in- and out-of-state schools.

Scenario

 Students with families with an average of $300,000 in annual income, $950,000 in financial assets and home equity of approximately $350,000 (in line with data from Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances).  

2022-23 projected average net cost for selected colleges including both in- and out-of-state schools.

National Online Colleges

Online education has been a growing trend in undergraduate education and is expected to increase in the future.  Most of the schools included in this report have portions of their traditional class load presented online.  Several large national online colleges have established themselves. Most popular among older undergraduates, these colleges are accessible to all students wherever they live. The list below provides details about these schools and their costs. These schools are almost all open admission, often with rolling classes that allow students to start their degrees weeks after applying.

wdt_ID Name Location Number of Undergraduates (total) Number of Undergraduates (online only) 2020 Tuition & fees, In-state 2020 tuition & fees, Out-of-state
1 Western Governors UT 88,921 88,921 7,100 7,100
2 Southern New Hampshire NH 82,693 76,904 9,600 9,600
3 American Public University WV 37,746 37,746 9,200 9,200
4 Maryland- Global Campus MD 47,253 36,385 9,325 15,295
5 Grand Canyon University AZ 54,139 36,273 14,750 14,750
6 Liberty University VA 45,935 32,614 12,098 12,098
7 Strayer Multiple 34,395 30,789 14,930 14,930
8 Arizona Global Campus CA 28,701 28,701 16,450 16,450
9 Purdue Global IA 97,404 26,505 13,290 17,385
10 Brigham Young-Idaho ID 42,341 21,171 1,920 1,920
 

Glossary

Cost of Attendance – Full tuition, room, board, fees and an estimate of supplies.  The maximum a student can receive or borrow from a Federal Title IV program is the cost of attendance at the college where they enroll.  

Federal student financing– Classified as Title IV aid, the US Department of Education finances higher education through several programs, some which obligate the borrower to repay the amount (loans) and some that do not need to be repaid (grants).  Loans made through this program are NOT dischargeable in bankruptcy.  Major federal programs include:

Pell Grants – Up to $6,345 in 2020/21 calculated based on the student’s FAFSA filing EFC.  The lower your EFC, the more in Pell Grants you can receive.  Generally, families with incomes below about $90,000 will be eligible for Pell Grants, with declining amount of grants as income and assets increase.

Direct Subsidized Loans – Loans from the federal government that do not accrue interest while the student is enrolled in college and begin to accrue interest when the student graduates or leaves school.  In 2020/21, Direct Subsidized Loans charged an interest rate of 2.75%, which is fixed for the life of the loan, and had relatively low maximum amounts and a low 1.1% upfront cost. These loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans – Loans from the federal government that accrue interest while the student is enrolled in college.  In 2020/21, Direct Unsubsidized Loans charged an interest rate of 2.75%, which is fixed for the life of the loan, and had relatively low maximum amounts and a low 1.1% upfront cost. These loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Direct PLUS loans – Loans from the federal government to the parent of the undergraduate.  Larger amounts can be borrowed under this PLUS program compared to the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized programs described above, covering need up to the Cost of Attendance.  In 2020/21, Direct Subsidized and Unsibsidized Loans charged an interest rate of 7.1%, which is fixed for the life of the loan.  The loan costs 4.2% upfront, so add that amount to your college costs if you borrow using this program.  These loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Full tuition – The maximum a college has decided to charge its undergraduates.  Colleges often lower the actual cost on a student-by-student basis for the reasons stated earlier.  

Room & board – Traditional undergraduate education usually includes on-campus lodging and meals.  This room and board is included in the net cost found here.  Schools also provide estimates of room, board and living costs for students living off campus. These estimates vary widely even for colleges close to one other.