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Because you chose to go to college instead of working, your opportunity cost is actually the sum of your college expenses plus the money you could have earned had you chosen not to work. Your opportunity cost to attend college is $260k.
So, attending college for four years has an opportunity cost of $80,000, above and beyond the cost of attendance.
What would you have to give up if you wanted to get 10 hours of sleep one night? You would either have to take 2 hours out of work OR play, OR a combination of time out of each that would equal 2 hours. You just studied 11 terms!
Is the money, you could have earned instead of going to college, part of the cost of going to college? Yes, it is because if that is what you would be doing instead of college, you are giving it up.
In short, the opportunity cost of attending college is the cost of tuition, any associated costs, and any income, experience, and pleasure you miss out on because you choose to attend college.
Applying Opportunity Cost to College If you choose not to attend college, one likely scenario would be you picking up a job. Say you get a job out of high school for $35k per year. After four years you’ve earned about $140k (without any increases in wage or bonuses).
Your opportunity cost of taking this course is: the net benefit of the activity you would have chosen if you had not taken the course.
The opportunity cost is time spent studying and that money to spend on something else. The opportunity cost is an hour spent elsewhere each day.