Putting Together a College Cost Outline

As most of us have probably heard by now through various media reports, the cost of college seems to be continually on the rise.  And with these cost increases are coming increases in the amount of student loans that graduates are coming out of college with.  But just because you’ve heard that college is expensive, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to just give up and allow tens of thousands of extra dollars to be hefted onto your college budget.

In an effort to better prepare for the potential expense of obtaining a college degree, putting together a college course outline may put a little clarity to what’s to come and help take some of the financial guesswork out of the equation.


To get a good idea of what your tuition costs will be looking like, you may have to visit the website of the institution you’ve chosen to pursue or contact them directly.  In fact, this can be a great way to get a general idea of general cost estimates for a variety of items relating to the attendance of a particular program or institution.

Here are links to a few examples of school that provide costs estimates to give you a better idea of how such estimates might be laid out:

Room and Board

Room and board costs may be dependent upon several factors.  If you are living at home while doing your schooling, such costs might be minimal.  However, if you’re living on campus, living in a fraternity or sorority, or renting a home or apartment on or near campus, these costs can be significant.  In a dorm situation, the school might be able to provide good cost estimates.  However, when it comes to the Greek system or renting, factors such as location, number of roommates, size of home or apartment, and similar aspects can come into play.

Books and Fees

Books and fees are another area of college costs that can depend upon whether you’re attending school online or on campus, and can also hinge upon your particular degree and program.  Again, visiting the school website or contacting a school directly can help you better clarify such costs.

And remember, while sharing books with class or roommates might be a great way to save a few bucks, course textbook requirements can change or be updated from one semester to the next, so making sure that you have the proper edition before the semester starts can be a critical aspect of starting off on the right foot.


Consider your transportation situation when at school.  Will you be living on or near campus and not be in need of a vehicle or a bus pass?  Will you be traveling regularly between school and home?  If so, is this a matter of miles or hundreds or even thousands of miles?  And if you will be using transportation at school, will it be by way of a campus shuttle or bus service or a vehicle?  Then there may be questions about annual bus pass fees, parking for a vehicle, vehicle insurance costs, upkeep, gas, and similar items.

These costs could play an integral role in your college cost outline, and they could mean the difference in hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in expenses each year.


There are all sorts of extra costs that could come with a college education depending upon location, degree type, personal preferences, and similar education-specific expenses.  If you aren’t completely sure what extra costs may come with your education, you might want to just factor a little bit of “wiggle room” into your cost outline.  Maybe 5 percent would work, and if that’s a little too much, well then, you may come out ahead of the game at the end of the school year.  In many cases when it comes to money though, it’s often better safe than sorry.