The Cost Of A Computer Science Degree

A computer science degree opens the door to lucrative careers in software engineering, data science, cybersecurity, and more. But before reaping those professional rewards, most students have to make a major investment in their education.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: On average, the cost of a 4-year computer science degree at an in-state public school is around $100,000, while at private universities it can exceed $200,000.

In this comprehensive 3,000 word guide, we will break down the costs of earning a computer science degree. We’ll look at tuition differences between public vs. private universities, estimates for books/supplies, room and board, additional fees, and more.

We’ll also provide tips for reducing costs and getting financial aid.

Tuition Costs

When considering pursuing a degree in computer science, one of the first factors that comes to mind is the cost of tuition. Tuition costs can vary depending on several factors, including whether the university is public or private and whether the student is an in-state or out-of-state resident.

Public In-State Tuition

For students attending a public university in their home state, the cost of tuition for a computer science degree can be significantly lower. Public in-state tuition rates are often subsidized by the state government, making it more affordable for students.

On average, public in-state tuition for a computer science degree can range from $5,000 to $10,000 per year.

Public Out-of-State Tuition

For students who wish to attend a public university outside of their home state, the cost of tuition can increase. Public out-of-state tuition rates are typically higher than in-state rates due to the lack of state subsidies.

On average, public out-of-state tuition for a computer science degree can range from $15,000 to $25,000 per year.

Private University Tuition

Private universities tend to have higher tuition costs compared to public universities. However, they may also offer more financial aid opportunities to offset the higher costs. On average, private university tuition for a computer science degree can range from $30,000 to $50,000 per year.

It’s important to note that these figures can vary significantly depending on the specific university and its location.

It’s always a good idea to research and compare tuition costs at different universities before making a decision. Financial aid, scholarships, and grants can also help reduce the overall cost of a computer science degree. Websites like College Board and U.S.

News provide valuable resources for finding accurate and up-to-date information on tuition costs for computer science programs.

Other Costs

Books & Supplies

Aside from tuition, one of the major expenses students need to consider when pursuing a computer science degree is the cost of books and supplies. Computer science courses often require textbooks, coding manuals, software licenses, and other resources that can quickly add up.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the College Board, the average college student spends around $1,240 on books and supplies each year. It’s essential for students to budget for these costs and explore options such as buying used textbooks or renting them to minimize expenses.

Housing & Meals

Another significant cost to consider is housing and meals. Many students choose to live on campus, while others opt for off-campus apartments or shared housing. The cost of housing varies depending on the location and type of accommodation.

Additionally, students need to budget for meals, whether they have a meal plan or cook for themselves. According to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of room and board for students at public four-year institutions in the United States is approximately $11,510 per year.

It’s advisable for students to explore all housing options and consider their budget when making decisions about where to live.


Aside from tuition, there are often additional fees associated with pursuing a computer science degree. These fees can include technology fees, lab fees, and activity fees, among others. These fees can vary depending on the institution and the specific program.

It’s important for students to thoroughly review the fee schedule of their chosen university and factor these costs into their budget. It’s also a good idea to reach out to the university’s financial aid office to inquire about any potential fee waivers or scholarships that may be available.


Transportation costs can also be a factor for students pursuing a computer science degree. Whether commuting to campus or traveling for internships, students may need to budget for transportation expenses. This includes fuel costs, public transportation fares, or even car maintenance and insurance.

Students should consider their commuting or travel needs and explore cost-effective options such as carpooling, biking, or using public transportation whenever possible.

Total 4-Year Cost Estimates

In-State Public Total

For students looking to pursue a computer science degree at an in-state public university, the total cost for four years can vary depending on a variety of factors. On average, tuition and fees for in-state students range from $10,000 to $20,000 per year.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these costs do not include additional expenses such as textbooks, housing, and meal plans. When factoring in these additional expenses, the total cost for a computer science degree at an in-state public university can range from $40,000 to $60,000 over four years.

Out-of-State Public Total

For students who reside out-of-state and wish to attend a public university in another state, the total cost of a computer science degree can be significantly higher. Out-of-state tuition rates are often much higher than in-state rates, ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 per year.

In addition to tuition, students will need to consider the cost of living in a different state, which includes expenses like housing, transportation, and food. Taking these factors into account, the total cost for a computer science degree at an out-of-state public university can range from $80,000 to $120,000 over four years.

Private University Total

Attending a private university for a computer science degree can come with a higher price tag. Tuition and fees at private universities tend to be higher than those at public institutions, averaging around $30,000 to $50,000 per year.

However, private universities often have more financial aid and scholarship opportunities available, which can help offset the cost. When considering additional expenses such as housing, textbooks, and other supplies, the total cost for a computer science degree at a private university can range from $120,000 to $200,000 over four years.

Reducing Costs

Obtaining a computer science degree can be a significant investment, but there are various ways to reduce the financial burden. By exploring scholarships and grants, work-study programs, choosing in-state schools, and commuting from home, students can save money without compromising their education.

Scholarships & Grants

One effective strategy for reducing the cost of a computer science degree is to apply for scholarships and grants. Many universities and organizations offer financial aid opportunities specifically for students pursuing STEM fields, such as computer science.

These scholarships and grants can help cover tuition, books, and other educational expenses. Students should research and apply to as many relevant scholarships and grants as possible to increase their chances of receiving financial assistance.

Websites like and provide comprehensive databases of available scholarships.

Work-Study Programs

Another option to consider is participating in work-study programs. These programs allow students to work part-time on campus while attending classes. By working in various departments or research projects, students can earn income that can be used towards their tuition fees.

Apart from the financial benefits, work-study programs also provide valuable work experience and networking opportunities. Students should inquire with their school’s financial aid office to learn more about work-study opportunities available.

Choosing In-State

Attending an in-state university can significantly reduce the overall cost of a computer science degree. In-state tuition rates are often lower than out-of-state or private university rates. By choosing a school within their home state, students can save thousands of dollars on tuition fees.

Additionally, in-state students may also be eligible for additional scholarships and financial aid opportunities specific to their state. It is important to research and compare the tuition rates of different universities to make an informed decision.

Commuting From Home

Living off-campus can be a major expense for college students. One way to cut costs is by commuting from home if it is a viable option. By living with family or friends nearby, students can avoid the expenses of room and board.

While commuting may require additional time and effort, the potential savings can be substantial. Students should carefully consider their transportation options and ensure they have access to reliable transportation before committing to this option.

ROI of a CS Degree

When considering the cost of pursuing a computer science degree, it is important to weigh the potential return on investment (ROI) that comes with it. A computer science degree can open up a world of opportunities and lead to lucrative career paths.

Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the ROI of a CS degree.

Average Salaries

One of the main attractions of a computer science degree is the potential for high salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250 in May 2020, which is significantly higher than the national average.

This means that individuals with a CS degree have the potential to earn a great income right from the start of their careers.

Loan Repayment

While the cost of obtaining a computer science degree can be substantial, it is important to consider the potential for loan repayment. With the high earning potential in the field, graduates are often able to pay off their student loans relatively quickly.

Additionally, there are various loan forgiveness programs and scholarships available specifically for computer science graduates, which can help alleviate the financial burden.

Long-Term Earning Potential

Another aspect to consider when evaluating the ROI of a CS degree is the long-term earning potential. As technology continues to advance and play an increasingly important role in various industries, the demand for skilled computer science professionals is expected to grow.

This means that individuals with a CS degree are likely to have excellent job security and opportunities for career advancement, which can lead to even higher salaries in the long run.


Earning a 4-year computer science degree requires a significant financial investment, often exceeding $100,000 at public schools and $200,000 at private universities.

However, the long-term salary potential of CS graduates makes the costs worthwhile. By researching affordability, securing financial aid, and weighing ROI, students can make informed decisions about investing in this valuable degree.

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