House vs. College: Which Costs More?

Last Updated Sep 15, 2011 9:01 AM EDT

Thinking about buying a house? Does that mean you won't be able to afford a four-year college degree?

According to the FinAid website, in recent years the price of an average four-year college tuition bill has risen at about twice the rate of inflation. More recently, the College Board's Trends in College Pricing released data about the 2010-2011 academic year which calculated average total costs (including tuition, fees, room and board) for public and private institutions. Students attending four-year public colleges and universities could expect to pay $16,140 for in-state and $28,130 out-of-state. Attendees at four-year private colleges and universities face an average annual bill of $36,993.

At a time when our economy is failing to produce any jobs, credit has tightened and American families are experiencing consumer distress at record levels, these price tags feel heftier than ever. For a middle class already struggling, providing children with the education needed to compete in today's global economy can seem financially impossible.

But you know something interesting? It may have seemed unthinkable just a few short years ago, but today it is entirely possible to buy a home, or make a real estate investment, for less than the cost of an four-year college degree. It may be an odd silver lining to a long-depressed housing market, but there you have it.

Don't believe me? Check out the following evidence. All images and data provided courtesy of Zillow.

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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.