We all know that attending a four-year institution can be
expensive. With room, board, tuition, and fees, the costs
can range into the tens of thousands of dollars per year.
While you might think the costs stop there, plenty of miscellaneous
expenses you might not be expecting can suddenly, and unexpectedly,
rear their ugly heads. These costs can add hundreds, if
not thousands of dollars to your college bill. This isn’t
meant to deter you from going to college and getting a degree,
it is simply to help inform you about the expenses involved
with such an education and prepare you for costs that you
might not be factoring into your college budget.
Many colleges have expanded past the compact, walk everywhere
type campuses. Many universities have grown so large that
sometimes there are literally miles to cover between classes.
Many universities have annexed properties and expanded into
urban areas so that getting to class can be time consuming,
difficult, expensive, and at times dangerous. This can leave
many students relying on public or university transportation
or personal vehicles to get back and forth between classes
or around town.
Many students who live off campus must consider transportation
costs as well. A bus or train pass can cost hundreds of
dollars, and utilizing a personal vehicle, even if already
paid for, can easily cost well over a thousand dollars a
year in insurance, gas, upkeep, and sticker or paid parking
costs for campus or city parking.
Consider also the costs of going home for holidays, especially
if you’re family lives far from your school. Train
or bus tickets, airfare or even gas money for a driving
an extended distance home for holidays and breaks can add
While books and supplies are an expected cost when heading
off to college, certain degree programs require more textbooks,
more expensive textbooks, or extra, and often costly supplies.
Recommended reading in addition to regular course textbooks,
financial or scientific calculators, art supplies, etc.
can easily add hundreds of dollars each academic year to
your bills. Consider searching for used textbooks to save
on costs and borrow or share supplies and textbooks with
friends, classmates, and roommates.
Picking the right meal plan for school can make a huge difference
in your expenses while away at school. Many schools have
advanced their available meal options, often including campus
based fast food restaurants, delis, coffee shops, and even
stores where you can select food items of your choosing.
However, if you aren’t living on campus or near these
food options, or if your school still relies heavily on
the cafeteria style eating arrangement that you’re
just not into, you might want to reconsider the meal plan
option or choose a scaled down version.
Similarly, if you choose to join a fraternity or sorority
where meals are prepared for you, purchasing a campus meal
plan can be a significant waste of money. Weigh your options
well before you lock into a particular plan. Most schools
offer a variety of options ranging from limited to extensive
when it comes to eating on campus, and you don’t want
to pay for something you won’t be using.
Activities such as joining a fraternity or sorority, participating
in intramural sports or going to the gym can also unexpectedly
increase college costs. Many fraternities and sororities
charge hefty rent, result in social fees, pledge fees, and
involve philanthropic event participation that can incur
additional expenses. Be aware of the costs before you pledge
such an organization, and ensure you’re parents are
aware as well if they are helping you with school.
Hobbies, playing sports, and participating in other extracurricular
activities such as going out with friends, having a gym
membership, or eating out, can also result in higher miscellaneous
costs while at school. By tracking, and attempting to limit
the amount you spend on such activities you can better maintain
your budget and remain within its parameters.
Given all the costs associated with going to college, more
and more people are now considering attending college online.
Over the past few years many colleges have come up that
offer accredited online degrees, not only can one save a
lot by studying from home but you also have time to take
up a job and spend time with family and friends. If this
sounds interesting, take a look at all the schools that
offer an Online