When it comes to college, it’s easy to focus on the larger and more obvious expenses – and with good reason. After all, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities, according to the College Board. While tuition and room and board tend to make up a larger portion of college expenses, it’s also important to be prepared for the smaller, sometimes unexpected costs, which are easier to overlook. While some of these expenses might not seem substantial at first glance, they can add up over the course of four years, and it’s important to budget accordingly.
Here are some overlooked college expenses to look out for:
1. Textbooks and materials.
Many college students are surprised by just how much their textbooks and other supplies cost. The cost will vary based on several factors, such as the courses you’re taking, how many classes you’re taking in a given semester, your school, where you purchase the materials, and so on. But according to The College Board, college students can expect to shell out roughly $1,200 annually for textbooks and course materials. A single textbook can easily set you back a few hundred dollars. Some professors publish their syllabuses well in advance, which can give students plenty of time to budget what they’ll need for an upcoming semester. In other cases, you might not find out what’s required until classes start. Always plan for the higher end of the range to be on the safe side, and try to talk to students who’ve taken the class before. You may get great tips on what’s really required and how to get those necessary books for a cheaper price.
2. Add-ons for specific fields of study.
Certain fields of study and majors simply cost more than others. Majors with ‘hands-on’ courses – like many art and science programs – are more likely to come with lab fees, and the amount of each lab fee can vary greatly. Do your research for your major so you can plan ahead for these expenses.
3. Cost of living.
Students moving out on their own for college often prepare for the larger expenses associated with being independent, such as rent and food. It’s the smaller daily costs of living that are easy to take for granted when you’re living with your parents. Cleaning supplies, toiletries, household paper products, and other basics are variable expenses that can easily catch a new student by surprise, so it’s important to budget accordingly.
Getting involved with your school – whether it’s by joining a club, sports team, fraternity, or sorority – is part of the experience for many. However, these college experiences often come with a price tag. Ranging anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for a single activity, it’s important to carefully take these costs into consideration before joining.
This doesn’t necessarily mean study abroad travel – although, if this is something you’ve got your sights set on, it is certainly an expense to work into your college budget. But even traveling back home during holidays and breaks can be a hidden expense that students and their families overlook. Depending on where you’ll be traveling to and from, and when, be sure to factor in price increases for popular travel times.
6. Miscellaneous fees.
There are often a lot of miscellaneous fees you may be paying each semester on top of the required cost for classes. Because this is often built into tuition pricing, these different fees can often go unnoticed, but it’s important to be prepared if you’re budgeting for college expenses ahead of time. For example, you might be charged a parking fee every semester. You might also be required to pay extra fees for certain courses- technology fees for online classes, for example. These miscellaneous fees can vary significantly, so if it’s unclear what you might be required to pay for, be sure to contact your school directly to ask for clarification.
When federal student loans and financial aid aren’t quite enough to cover those unexpected college expenses, College Ave has got you covered. We offer a wide range of student loans to suit your financial needs and can help you prepare for the unexpected.