Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
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:
  • Understand the components of a budget
  • Learn financial management
  • Learn the nature of opportunity costs
  • Understand the importance of self-regulation
  • Understand the costs associated with going to college
  • Research different college cost options
  • Compute the cost of college

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

Number and Operations
  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems;
  • Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another;
  • Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates.

Problem Solving
  • Build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving;
  • Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts;
  • Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems;
  • Monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical problem solving.

  • Create and use representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas;
  • Select, apply, and translate among mathematical representations to solve problems;
  • Use representations to model and interpret physical, social, and mathematical phenomena.
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