Princeton University costs $73,450 per year—but here's how much students actually pay

The Princeton Tigers band members play before a game against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks at L. Stockwell Jadwin Gymnasium on November 29, 2017 in Princeton, New Jersey.
Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Earning a college diploma has never been more expensive, but the cost can vary widely.

According to the College Board's 2018 Trends in College Pricing Report, the reported tuition at private non-profit four-year schools is an average $35,830. However, the average net price of tuition and fees at these schools — after scholarships and grants are taken into account — is closer to $14,610.

And exactly how much an individual student will spend on a college degree depends on the school and what income bracket their family fits into. This complex cost structure holds true at some of the most prestigious schools in the U.S., including the Ivy League.

During the 2019 - 2020 school year, the total cost to attend Princeton is $73,450 — but many students end up paying far less.

A cyclist rides past Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in Princeton, New Jersey.
REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

According to the Princeton undergraduate admissions website, the total costs to attend Princeton is $73,450 for the 2019 - 2020 school year. This total includes $51,870 for tuition, $10,090 for rooming, $7,060 for boarding, $3,500 in miscellaneous expenses and a $930 residential college fee.

This total estimate does not include travel expenses, which Princeton says can range from $100 to $2,500 per year.

Princeton is one of just a few schools in the country to be considered full-need and need-blind, meaning the school does not consider financial status during acceptance decisions and claims to meet all demonstrated financial need.

The Ivy league school reports that during the 2018-2019 school year, 60% of students qualified for financial aid, the average grant amount was $53,100 and the average net cost of tuition, college fee and room and board for aid recipients was just $13,600. About 82% of recent alumni graduate from Princeton debt-free.

Students walking to classes at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Barry Winiker | Getty Images

Here's how Princeton's aid program work played out for the class of 2022.

At Princeton, students from families that make $65,000 a year or less qualify for a grant that covers tuition, room and board and the residential college fee. The average grant for students in this income bracket is $67,350.

For students from families making between $65,000 and $85,000 the average grant amount is $62,865, which covers tuition, fees and 76% of room and board costs. For students from families making between $85,000 and $100,000 the average grant amount is $59,140 which covers tuition, fees and 54% of room and board costs.

Princeton covers full tuition and some of room and board costs for students from families earning up to $140,000, and covers all of tuition for students from families making between $140,000 and $160,000.

Even students from families that make as much as $250,000 earn average grants of about $29,900 that covers 60% of tuition.

Most students at Princeton come from wealthy backgrounds. According to The New York Times, the median family income of a student from Princeton is $186,100, and 72% come from the highest-earning 20% of American households. Further, 17% come from the highest-earning 1% of American households.

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Don't miss:

Don't miss out on financial aid – here's how to get that money
Don't miss out on financial aid – here's how to get that money