“Major” College Costs: What You Study Affects What You Pay

By: Katie Wornek, UHEAA

 

When it comes to paying for higher education, every college student faces a few standard costs – mainly tuition, fees, and books. You could also need specific equipment for your major that can add to the final price of your degree or certificate. It’s best to know about these requirements ahead of time so you can budget accordingly. Your professors will instruct you on exactly what you need to purchase for school, but here are a few equipment cost examples you might encounter:

 
 

TECHNOLOGY: HARDWARE


Item

Examples of common majors

Computer (PC)

Multiple/varies

Computer (Apple)

Multiple/varies

Sound equipment

Audio Engineering

Broadcast Journalism

Music

Performance Art

Theatre

Vocal Performance

Still or video camera or lighting equipment

Film

Photo Jounralism

Photography

 

TECHNOLOGY: SOFTWARE


Item

Examples of common majors

Word processing (common examples: Apple Pages or Microsoft Word)

Multiple/varies

Spreadsheets (common examples: Apple Numbers or Microsoft Excel)

Accounting

Business

Math

Statistics

Presentations (common examples: Apple Keynote and Microsoft Powerpoint)

Multiple/varies

Photo editing (common examples: Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop)

Film

Graphic Design

Photo Journalism

Photography

Video editing (common examples: Adobe Premier Pro or Apple FinalCut Pro X)

Broadcast Journalism

Film

Game Design

Sound editing (common examples: Apple Logic Pro, Adobe Audition, or Avid Pro Tools)

Audio Engineering

Broadcast Journalism

Music

Drafting or 3-D rendering (common example: AutoCAD)

Architecture

CAD/Engineering

Game Design

Graphic Design

Vector graphics (example: Adobe Illustrator)

Film

Game Design

Graphic Design

Visual Art

Web design (common examples: Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Visual Studio)

Computer Programming

Computer Science

Graphic Design

Information Systems

Web Design

 

ATTIRE


Item

Examples of common majors

Scrubs or other uniform

Health Sciences

Law Enforcement

Medicine

Military Studies

Nursing

Public Safety

Formal business attire

Accounting

Business

Law

Specialized shoes

Dance

Performance Art

Safety equipment (common examples: goggles, hardhat)

Chemistry

Construction Management

Criminal Justice

Law Enforcement

Public Safety

 

OTHER SUPPLIES


Item

Examples of Common Majors

Musical instrument

Music

Performance Art

Drafting supplies

Architecture

Graphic Design

Painting or sculpting media

Fine Art

Visual Art

Sulpting

Keep in mind that there are many discounts available for college students (especially on computers and software). Check with your campus bookstore or other vendors to see if you can obtain the supplies you need for free or at a discounted rate. If you will not need your equipment permanently, you may also want to consider renting certain items or buying used books and equipment instead of permanently purchasing new items.

 

Students in certain majors may also be charged “differential tuition” – this means your tuition rate is higher than the college’s normal tuition rate because your major costs the school more money to operate. Here is a real-world example of how differential tuition impacts two in-state students attending a four-year public university after just one semester:


Credit hours

Tuition

Fees

Total

Student 1 (enrolled in a program with differential tuition)

12

$8,000

$550

$8,550

Student 2 (enrolled in a program without differential tuition)

12

$3,900

$550

$4,450

Check with your departmental advisor or your college’s financial aid office for more information about tuition rates for your degree.

 

When choosing a major, it’s important to consider your return on investment or “ROI”. A good ROI for your education simply means the tangible benefits (such as a salary) and intangible benefits (such as personal fulfillment) you receive from your degree are more valuable than what you gave up (such as your money and time). Below are a few examples of some college majors with the potential for high financial returns on investment. Check out salaries for other careers here.

 

Engineering (mechanical, aerospace, aeronautical, materials, systems, electrical, computer, nuclear, chemical, and petroleum)

Computer Science

Mathematics

Finance

Business Administration

Information Systems Management