NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The cost of college nationally continues to go up but what students are actually paying is on the decline, according to the College Board which looked at data from this school year.

The total annual cost for Smith and Mount Holyoke students is expected to be over $80,000 next year but talking to students, many will tell you they’re not paying that full price.

“I was like, I might just have to drop out of school because I don’t have the money to be able to afford that much,” said Aminatu Abdulai, a Smith College soon-to-be graduate.

Abdulai had a bit of sticker shock when she saw the cost of college in the U.S. but she landed a full ride to Smith College. The school said it puts out $80 million a year in financial aid and starting in 2022, the college eliminated loans from its financial packages. A move that is also happening at Williams College.

Scholarships and grants are a big piece for students like Laurel to figure out where they will wind up.

“The actual sticker price, I didn’t really take into consideration. I took financial aid into consideration. So schools like Smith or Mount Holyoke or that kind of school have a lot of money that they can put towards financial aid,” said Laurel Kruger, a Smith College soon-to-be graduate.

Data from the College Board that factors inflation reveals the cost students pay annually has gone down in recent years for both public and private institutions. With an average estimated cost of $2,250 this past school year when it comes to tuition and fees for public universities and over $14,600 for private colleges.

Rosina Asiamah also received a full ride from Smith, she’s looking forward to graduating this weekend, “Wherever I go, I just proclaim the name of Smith College because it’s been very helpful, very supportive.”

The White House estimates federal student loan debt is at $1.6 trillion, impacting more than 45 million borrowers.