College is often met with excitement and interest by students pursuing their passions and what they hope will be fulfilling, lucrative careers. And the rising costs of college, coupled with the growing number of students taking on substantial debt to finance their educations, make it necessary that prospective students consider their earning potential when deciding on a major.
According to the College Board, the average cost of college tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.
The cost of tuition and room and board may catch parents’ eyes, but there are some lesser known expenses associated with college that can make attending school even more expensive. According to Cappex.com, a website offering ideas on how to pay for college, the extra costs of college can cost between $250 and $500 per month.
The following are some lesser known expenses that college students and their families may need to budget for this school year.
Transportation: Commuter students will need to drive to and from campus, which involves budgeting for gas, repairs and auto insurance. Students who live on campus may be subjected to a high fee for a resident student parking pass. Colleges in the United States earn an average of $4 million to $5 million in parking revenues each year, according to the most recent rate study from the National Parking Association. A typical four-year college or university in the United States charges about $635 per space for the school year. Other students use public transportation or ridesharing services to get around. Those fees can quickly add up, too. Students attending school far away from home also need to budget for plane tickets home during the holidays and other breaks.
Fraternities and sororities: Many students join Greek organizations to fully immerse themselves in the college experience and make new friends. Many of these groups charge fees to prospective pledges and then semester dues once students are accepted. Parties, trips, living expenses and other expenses may come up as well.
Added fees: Many colleges and universities charge technology fees, sports center fees and activity fees. Exploring these fees in advance of the school year can help families create accurate budgets.
Dining out: Families spend hundreds of dollars on campus meal plans per semester, but students also like to visit local eateries during the school year. Snacks, lunches and dinners purchased from such establishments can cost hundreds of dollars per year. Farmer’s Financial Solutions, a division of Farmer’s Insurance, says off-campus dining expenses cost an average of $770 a year.
School supplies: A new laptop or tablet, textbooks and other supplies a professor requires can cost thousands of dollars. The College Board estimates students spend $1,300 on books and supplies in a typical school year.
The cost to attend college extends beyond tuition and room and board. Many additional expenses can stretch families’ budgets.