Math Is Real Life: The Cost of College

It’s the first Wednesday of December which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!! If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!


A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by
This month’s post is short and sweet.  What’s the math?
My income – Cost of college = a really small number.
So my son is a junior.  A really really smart junior.  We are just starting this college hunt process and are looking at all our options…talk about math!  Private?  Public?  In state?  Out of state?  Will there be scholarships?  How much?  Big school?  Small school?  Student/teacher ratio?  Miles from home?  Average ACT?  The math is staggering.
But what is MOST staggering to me is how times have changed in the 10 24 years since I graduated.  Not only do the cafeterias now offer Mongolian food instead of corn dogs, the PRICE has changed astronomically.  Like..HOLY MOLY.
I did a little research on my alma mater, the good ol’ University of Wisconsin-Madison (GO BUCKY!).  My last semester of school back in 2004 1991 was less than $1,000.  LESS THAN, people!  Room and board was about $3,000 and we had to throw a few hundred in for books as well.  Seemed crazy at the time…I know I ate a few meals of mac and cheese made with no milk…only water and non dairy creamer pilfered from the cafeteria.  Not even kidding.
What would it cost to go to Madison today?  $19,890–give or take a little.  So, after dealing with the sticker shock a few months back, my son announces to me that he will NOT be attending Madison.  That EVERYONE goes to Madison…he wants something different.  So we begin looking.
We look at ACT scores.  We look at distance from home.  We look at the student/teacher ratio.  I LOOK AT COSTS.  Take a gander at this nicely organized cost distribution from Duke University (Which is, I am sure, a FANTASTIC institute of higher learning–just want to clarify that.)
That’s right.

So…I love my kid.  Like–a lot.  But


So our next step was to “do a little math” with him to show him exactly what kind of money we are talking about over the course of 4-5 years–and to see what kind of plans he has to help contribute.  We researched some scholarship websites to see what we could see…and we learned the following.

Paying for college is going to be a LOT of work!

Our first “real” visit last week to Washington University in St. Louis! 

Stay tuned over the next year as we have a LOT more real life math related to his topic!

Don’t forget to check out the other MIRL posts below! Check back over the next few days – more will be added!!