We all know that American college education isn't cheap. But it turns out that it's even less cheap if you look at the numbers more closely.
That's what the Wisconsin HOPE Lab did. The lab, part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted four studies to figure out the true price of college.
To get a sense of student realities, researchers interviewed students on college campuses across the state of Wisconsin. But they also examined 6,604 colleges nationally and compared their costs with regional cost-of-living data from the government.
The researchers found that college life is more expensive than sticker prices might suggest, and that financial aid doesn't help students as effectively as it could, especially after the first year. All these findings are summarized in a report from The Century Foundation.
Colleges want to keep their sticker price low because it helps with rankings and attracts more students, the report says. But students might be less likely to drop out or take time off of college if they could better plan their college finances.