According to the College Board, four years worth of tuition, fees, books, and supplies at a public university costs $80,000. Room, board, transportation and other costs raises the total costs to about $50,000 for public universities and $110,000 for private. However, when viewed as an investment for the future, the lifetime gain can be substantial. Although it varies based on the field of study, the gain can be several times the above costs over a lifetime.