Busting college cost myths

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PHOENIX -- It's certainly not a myth that attending a four-year college is going to hit you hard in the wallet.  The average four year tab can range between $71,000 at in-state public institutions to nearly $250,000 at some of the elite private schools.

Given that huge expense, the last thing you want to do is pay more than necessary, borrow more than you can handle or perhaps you might even pass on a college that can give you a quality education at an affordable price.

To help get the facts straight, here are some myths you should ignore.

The first myth is saving for college will hurt your chances of getting financial aid. False.  Actually any money you save probably won't affect your chances. That's because under a federal financial aid formula, what matters most is your income which is assessed at 47 percent.

The next myth, you can't afford private college. Don't confuse those eye-popping sticker prices with the price you'd actually pay. Discounting by private colleges, especially for good students has become the norm. Those discounts are typically awarded as merit aid and are given regardless of financial need.

Another myth is that a liberal arts degree won't pay the bills.  While a degree in business, science, technology, engineering and math tend to do well, many liberal arts majors do pretty well too and sometimes better.