The total cost of attending college for a year is usually divided into three categories: tuition and fees, room, and board. This means that when you are comparing colleges, you need to take into account the total cost of attendance, which includes but is not limited to tuition -- especially if you are going to live on campus.

The Cost of Classes

Tuition is usually calculated per credit, and tuition pays for the cost of the actual classes. It does not include the cost of staying in a dorm, eating at the cafeteria, or even buying books. Fees, such as a technology fee or activity fee, are often included as part of the total under the heading of tuition, but this can vary depending on the college.

Where the Money Goes

So where does your tuition money go? Well, it allows you to take the classes, of course, but the college doesn't use 100 percent of it to pay the salaries of your professors. Instead, tuition money is distributed all over the college, from administrator research costs to the costs associated with athletics. It all depends on each college's budget and what their priorities are.