The True Cost of College

By on April 16, 2018

As college acceptance letters are beginning to roll in, many considerations must be made in order to pick the best higher education experience for you. With the rising price of an education, finances can be one of the largest factors in determining what school is best for you.

Similar to a new car, the sticker price doesn’t tell the full story of the expenses that will be incurred in order to attend a certain school. The price of attendance could be much higher, or lower, depending on many factors including scholarships, financial aid, or planned activities. As you and your family consider all of your acceptance letters, make sure to consider the costs not included in the sticker price of tuition.

7 College Extra Expenses You Need to Plan For…

1. Extra fees and books

It is not uncommon to find that a college or university will have extra fees that are not included in the sticker price of tuition. These extras range from technology fees, parking passes, and student activity fees, and cover access to workout facilities, and upgrades to classroom technology on campus.

Books range greatly in cost, but knowing your options can help greatly reduce the cost every semester. Many schools will have used books available on campus for a reduced cost. You can also use many online sources to purchase new or used books. Most classes will list required books on a course’s description page of the school’s website. Many schools are also beginning to offer access to books through e-book readers that can be accessed via school library websites, both on and off campus.

If you’re living off-campus, make sure to find out the school’s policy on parking. Many schools require permits to park in school owned parking facilities, which can add additional fees to each year’s tuition.

2. Cost of Living

Many schools offer on-campus living, but as many students move past their freshman year they move off campus for living, which brings added expense that is not always considered when determining what school to attend. Checking out the local housing market will give you an idea of the price of rent in the community where your school is located. The price of rent and food can vary greatly from city to city, and even more from state to state. And don’t forget about the cost of transportation to and from campus, be it gas money or fees for public transportation.

3. Travel

Whether you are planning to study abroad, travel for spring break, or even just head home for a weekend, travel costs are incurred. The further you travel for school the higher your travel expenses will be. Most travel that students do will be during high travel periods, which generally equates to higher costs. Moving in at the beginning of the semester, or out at the end of the semester will incur larger costs whether you are taking everything home, or if you are putting it in a storage unit near campus.

4. Unplanned Entertainment Expenses

College life brings about new friends, and new experiences, and with these come unplanned expenses. One of the biggest culprits of unplanned expenses during college is eating out. The stressful schedule of school and homework, as well as spending time with friends, brings the temptation to eat out at restaurants. Many colleges also bring in big musical acts, comedians, or movie stars multiple times a semester that students will want to attend. These social experiences can vary in cost from free to expensive.

5. Getting Involved in Campus Life

Many students wish to experience all that college can provide, whether it be attending sporting events, participating in clubs, or becoming involved with a fraternity or sorority. All of these activities can add a great deal of expense to your college bill. Many schools allow students to charge sports team tickets to their student bill, making it easier for students to justify the added expense. Many clubs have dues, or require certain equipment that students will have to purchase in order to participate, along with memorabilia and clothing that members want to purchase.

Greek life provides a community and family atmosphere that some students wish to participate in; the price tag to participate can be steep though. Many fraternities or sororities charge dues, which can range from modest in price to very expensive. The Greek life generally also brings about additional expenses such as required clothing for events, or traveling to Greek life sponsored events.

6. Electronics and Mobile Devices

Many students going away to college for the first time will need to purchase electronics. Whether it is a new laptop, TV for the dorm room, mp3 player, or a new phone, the investment in new devices is not always factored into the cost of attending school. Many schools offer special discounts through certain manufacturers or companies, which will help offset the burden of purchasing multiple devices at once.

7. Furnishings

As with any move, the first time moving onto a college campus will bring about added expenses. Preparing to move into the dorms will bring about a long list of needed items for someone moving away from home for the first time. Purchasing last minute items such as cleaning supplies, personal supplies, or even new bedding will add up quickly, increasing the price of the full college experience.

Make Room in Your College Savings Plan for Extra Expenses

As you and your family weigh the options of which school would provide the best educational experience make sure that you consider more than just the sticker price of tuition that is provided by the school. Considering the above factors can help in making the best choice for the student by providing the full college experience with as little financial stress as possible.

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