The REAL Cost of College

Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

This lesson plan will teach high school students the basics of budgeting, including understanding how revenue and expenses interact. The context will be budgeting for college expenses, and will yield information that the student will actually be able to use in real life. Students will put together some different budget scenarios of what it REALLY costs to go to college, using online resources that they research independently.

Grade Level:
Grades 7-12

Time Allotment:
3 classes at 45 minutes per class

Subject Matter:
Math, Finance, Economics

Learning Objectives

Students will: Standards

1. National Council of Teachers and Mathematics
Principles and Standards for School Mathematics

Number and Operations
Problem Solving Representation 2. JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy

Money Management
Students will be able to:

  1. Explain how limited personal financial resources affect the choices people make.
  2. Identify the opportunity cost of financial decisions.
  3. Discuss the importance of taking responsibility for personal financial decisions.
  4. Apply a decision-making process to personal financial choices.
  5. Design a plan for earning, spending, saving, and investing.

3. Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
Benchmarks for Economics


Standard 1
Understands that scarcity of productive resources requires choices that generate opportunity costs



This lesson was prepared with the support of the Citigroup Foundation.

Written by: Melissa Donohue


Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students