So, what will four years -- or more -- on campus (or off) really cost you?

Until now, the cost of a college education -- from tuition, room and board to textbooks and those "incidentals," like transportation and toothpaste -- has been, pretty much, a guesstimate, at best.

Sure, there's an app for this and an app for that. College websites, too, often offer insights, as well as rough figures rounded up (or down) for one-size-fits-all. But what will be the hit to your wallet, bank account, or 529 at the actual school you or your child hopes to attend? Where are the tuition breaks? How much in financial aid -- by way of scholarships, grants, Work-Study and/or loans -- could you expect to receive?

Put down your calculators, spreadsheets, and applications to the local poor house, if but for a moment. Take a long, deep breath. Then, go online to and run the numbers.

The college cost calculator will give you a real-life picture -- given your household income -- of what you will pay for that college education.

Mind you, this is still an estimate, but a much more reliable one than, say, that abacus you've been relying on.

Note: The CNN Money College Costs Calculator is still a work in progress. [Coming soon, as the site suggests, will be Money's Real Cost Calculator, as advertised. Revisit this website in the days ahead to get a more accurate picture of what college will really cost you!]

Check back with this blog regularly for updates on not only the cost of college, but the course of the college admissions process.

Let's make this college by choice, not by chance! 
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