5 College Expenses You Haven’t Considered
With application season in full swing, college seems to be on everyone’s minds! If you’re smart, you’ve probably already started to take into account this semester’s impact on your budget. But what about the college expenses that aren’t included in your tuition?
If you want to make sure you don’t wind up overspending this semester, or when your child starts school in the fall, you should keep in mind these 5 often forgotten expenses:
1. Greek Life
Joining fraternities or sororities can be costly. Between dues, clothing for special events and traveling, the price of Greek life can really put a strain on your budget. Luckily, some costs can be recouped.. You can typically expect a pretty significant discount on room and board if your child stays in fraternity/sorority-owned housing. Many organizations are great for networking and engaging in acts of goodwill or charity. Going purely for the social life however, won’t make it a worthwhile investment. Talk to your son or daughter and see if the costs of joining a fraternity or sorority are worth it.
2. Extra Food
You may be shelling out over $10,000 for room and board, but will the included meal plan be enough? While your run-of-the-mill college meal plan will help to cover the essentials (breakfast, lunch and dinner) they fall short when it comes to the in-between times. What if your son or daughter is craving a mid-day snack or late-night fuel? Make sure you take these scenarios into account when you’re setting up a budget for college expenses. Try depositing an extra $50 a week into their bank account or encourage them to get a part-time job on campus to help them raise some extra money.
Sure, we all know about the insanely high cost of college text books, but those aren’t the only things your children are going to need for class. Notebooks, pens, laptops, tablets, lab coats, , and scientific calculators all add to the cost of college. Avoid purchasing these items at the college book store, where they’ll typically charge you a premium for convenience. Instead, stock up at your local office supply chain or look online for gently used calculators and other electronics. A couple of these items may not seem like much freshman year, but by senior year you’ll be wishing you had been more frugal.
4. Dorm Furnishings
You’d think with all that money you spend on room and board, they’d at least make sure the room had decor and some basic appliances, but that’s usually not the case. Bedspreads, curtains, coffee makers, garbage cans these are all items you’ll typically have to foot the bill for yourself. Furnishing like these, while seemingly insignificant, can quickly add up, costing you hundreds of dollars! Avoid over-paying on furnishings and do your best to stick with the basics. Have your child talk to their roommates before moving in and find a way to equally divide the expense. You can also look to start stocking up on their supplies throughout the year, when you may find greater discounts than if you were to wait till the month before school.
Depending on how far away your child is going to school, travel costs can vary. Whether it’s airfare for flights home for the holidays or making sure their car is properly maintained, travel costs can really make a dent in your budget. If you can manage your credit well, consider switching to a credit card that lets you rack up miles to help knock down the cost of your child’s flights. If your son or daughter is using a car, see if they can manage a part-time job to help cover the costs, or look into your insurance companies discounts. Many offer a good student discount that can take up to 10% off your bill.
The cost of college is high but the burden on your finances can be even greater when you forget to account for the things that will most likely be left uncovered by federal aid and loans. When considering a school, it’s important to take time and really consider all the costs college will bring. If you take the time to create and go over a thorough list of expenses, you and your child can ensure that the price of college won’t destroy your financial stability.
Did you have to deal with any unexpected expenses when prepping for college? Let us know in the comments!