This chart shows why eight in 10 families have to rule out some colleges because of cost. Today, it costs an average of $23,250 to attend one year at a public college and $53,430 at a private college. When you add up four years per child, college can quickly become one of a family’s largest expenses. And the younger a child is today, the more it will likely cost due to annual price increases. For example, total private college costs are estimated to be $98,000 higher for a current newborn than for a four-year-old. Key takeaway: A strong college investment plan starts with a clear understanding of future costs.