12 Most Overlooked Costs of College

12 Most Overlooked Costs of College

Before you start thinking about how to pay for college, make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself. Do you honestly know exactly how much attending college costs per year? How about per month? I’m not talking about just tuition, but all of college. If you don’t fully understand the costs, how will you be able to create an effective budget to pay for everything?
The most important part of paying for college is to know exactly how much everything costs. You need to do the research. Here are twelve of the most important questions you need to be asking yourself:

1. How much is tuition

A two-year college average cost for tuition and fees is $2963 for 2011-12. Public four-year colleges charge an average of $8,244 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students. Private nonprofit four-year colleges charge, on average, $28,500 per year in tuition and fees.

2. Are there extra fees

Most schools charge fees for services such as activities or athletic facilities. Fees usually appear on the tuition bill whether you use these services or not.

3. Living on Campus

Living on-campus is usually not the cheapest option but a direct-billed cost for parents. On-campus room fees arranged through the college are usually quoted on quarter or semester basis.

4. Living off Campus

Living off-campus can be cheaper. Some financial surprises include security deposits, utilities, flaky roommates and paying rent during summer vacation.

5. Living at home

If a student lives at home, there will be expenses related to food, communications (Internet) & commuting.

6. Food costs

If a student lives on-campus, food costs (board) are usually a separate line item on the college bill. Most schools offer variety of meal plans for on-campus dining. Meal plans can range from a stated number of pre-paid meals to unlimited dining plans.

7. Transportation costs

Four-year public college students who live on campus spent an average of $1,073 on transportation in 2010-11. If a student commutes to school, budget costs for public transportation, gas, car insurance and parking fees. If school is far away, don’t forget the cost of air travel to get home on breaks and holidays.

8. Book costs

Textbook costs are similar from school to school and vary depending on courses. Students can save by buying used books, buying online, renting or sharing with classmates. Some classes require more supplies than others; others have printing, copying, or computer costs.

9. Supply costs

The Nation Retail Foundation estimates that families spend an average per semester of $96.39 on school supplies. College professors distribute a syllabus the first week of class, and that will tell the student if there are specific supplies needed.

10. Personal Expenses

These are the indirect costs that don’t show up on the college bill. Students have lots of small personal expenses that add up. Consider clothing, laundry, haircuts, cell phone charges, and entertainment.

11. Health Insurance costs

This actually varies from college to college. At many small private colleges anyone without health insurance needs to subscribe to the school’s plan. Small private college medical plans cost about $900-$1,000 per year. Large, private university costs are around $2,000 per year. You can usually waive health insurance when you get the bill if the student is on his/her parents plan.

12. What does the Net Price Calculator say

Last month colleges were required to provide “Net Price Calculators” on their websites. Check out the cost of attendance using NPC but remember they only give estimates. Use net price calculators as a “ballpark” to find the true cost of college.

Jodi Okun

http://www.collegefinancialaidadvisors.com/

I LOVE helping parents find the financial resources to cover the cost of College! I take the stress out of the process and empower you with info and support! I examine how you can use college financial aid -- from scholarships to work/study jobs to student loans -- to help pay for that all-important education.

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15 comments
JodiOkun
JodiOkun

Great idea for my next post...I am on it. Let's stick together and we will get thru senior year in one piece.

kerijaehnig
kerijaehnig

Jodi,

As usual, terrific information. I appreciate the "price tags" put onto a few of the items above.

My daughter will be entering college next Fall. Some things are going well. Others....a very worried parent here.

Usually I'm too nervous. Things end up fine most of the time. That said, the perfect follow-up to this article would be, "The 12 Most Nerve Wracking Things For Parents of HS Seniors Preparing For College" - haha. :)

Thanks for #collegecash chat!

~Keri

douglaserice
douglaserice

Nice checklist, Jodi! I'm about halfway through my MBA, and I agree that most students and parents don't think about stuff on this list. Me? I prefer to live in blissful ignorance. College is free. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

dbvickery
dbvickery

Great resource/checklist, Jodi. I just shipped my oldest to college this Fall (she is taking her first final this morning, in fact). I am definitely thankful for an equity line and low interest rates! She came out #2 in her high school graduating class w/ivy league test scores, and received no scholarships. So much for getting rewarded based upon merit.

One of the frustrating expenses is the required meal plan when staying at a dorm...and having a daughter who is quick to skip meals if she feels she doesn't have time because of studying. And those good old gas costs are nice as she drives back home frequently ;) But we cherish every moment we can get!

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

These costs/this list is a great reminder, Jodi. You offer great advice and counsel every #CollegeCash on Thursdays (at 7:00 pm, PST), too. As YOU know, since we've discussed it, one of the very best ways to save money on college is to send your kid to a local community college his or her first two years. Unless your kid is super-motivated, there is little to be gained the first two years of college beyond the fun of binge drinking (NOT), all the sex you want, and co-ed dorms. Pre-req's are pre-req's everywhere. Save the money. They and you may need it later!

WineEveryday
WineEveryday

Jodi~ great information. I am on the last leg of paying college tuition bills! If this were a list of 13most, I would add the cost of joining a Sorority! Holy Cow! Almost like Country Club Dues!

sharongreenthal
sharongreenthal

Great points jodi! May I add that some students do a semester abroad, which can be a large additional expense - though the tuition and/or housing may be the same or even less in some cases, the extra travel, exchange rate, and other expenses can really add up.

JodiOkun
JodiOkun

@douglaserice Congrats working on your MBA so great, so hard you are dedicated!!! I will let you live in your blissful dream of free college...at least until you graduate ...Enjoy your hooding...

JodiOkun
JodiOkun

@dbvickery I agree the meal plan for girls is always the best for their eating habits. Working hard in High School students never know what colleges will award regarding merit, but competition is fierce and hard work is a must. My fav saying is don't blink...soon coming home often will fade away..Enjoy your winter break when family is together after first fall semester

JodiOkun
JodiOkun

@BruceSallan Loved chatting with you and look forward to many more conversations about family and college. Look forward to this week !

JodiOkun
JodiOkun

@WineEveryday Yes #13 is sorority and fraternity and I am sure we can go on with more hidden costs. Thanks!!

JodiOkun
JodiOkun

@sharongreenthal You are so right we will keep adding #13 Sorority and Fraternity #14 Study Abroad..the hidden costs go on and on

WineEveryday
WineEveryday

Great point Sharon, My daughter did summer semester in Paris. The shopping & extra baggage fees on the trip back home were a killer! @sharongreenthal

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