The Hidden Costs of College Life
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 up significantly.
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 Degrees.