The average annual tuition and fees for a four-year bachelor's degree in the United States is $8,893 for in-state attendees of public colleges, $22,203 for out-of-state attendees of public colleges, and $30,094 for private nonprofit colleges. These 2013-2014 figures, from reports released by the College Board, represent a 2.9 to 3.8 percent increase from the previous year. The 2.9 percent increase for in-state students at public institutions is one of the smallest increases in 30 years.

Other Costs

The published figures don't include room and board, books, transportation and other expenses. That adds an average of $13,933 per year at a public college and $14,656 at a private institution, according to the College Board. Added all together, that brings the four-year total cost to $91,304 to $179,000, depending on where you attend. While this is a significant expense, the cost of not getting a degree is even higher. Persons between ages 25 and 34 with a bachelor's degree earn on average 50 percent more in annual earnings than those in the same age category with just a high school diploma, according to a 2011 survey shown on the National Center for Education Statistics website.

Ways to Save

Attending a local community college for two years is one way to dramatically lower costs, especially for those who can continue to live at home. The average annual cost for tuition, fees, books, supplies and transportation is $6,242 at those institutions. Grants and tuition waivers are another way to reduce costs. Roughly two-thirds of full-time undergraduate students receive grants, according to the College Board.