When considering planning for higher education, you might be surprised to discover that college tuition and fees are not necessarily the largest associated costs. As students begin this next phase of life, takinga look at the college’s published cost of attendance is a good idea.
These are estimated costs (usually produced in conjunction withthe University) that change
depending on the student’s chosenmajor, classroom curriculum, campus activity, and personal
A recent survey on the current college trends reported hidden costs beyond tuitioncould easily exceed more than $3,000 to $5,000 a year per student. Unplanned or unexpected costs directly related to education include:
Admission tests and applications
Classroom materials and textbooks
Droppingclassesor registering late
Extra classes or specific majorstudy sessions
Lab and tutoring sessions
Per-use charges forcampus amenities
Post-undergraduate or licensing exams
Sorority and clubmembership fees
Today, over 60% of U.S. undergraduates attend four-year universities, with less than
40% attending community colleges. Tuition and fees account for 40% of four-year college costs for in-state students living on campus. That leaves 60% of an estimated budget to cover the cost of college life and study regimes.
In some cases, undergraduates apply for grant aid to cover the non-tuition expenses. Unfortunately, grants might only cover a small portion, leaving the student responsible for the reminder. Individual lifestyle expenses each month can cost $50 to $200, or in some cases much more. The majority of these non-tuition personal living expenses associated with attending college could be overwhelming to an underestimated budget. In order to make ends meet, somestudents may find it necessary to get a part-time job.
Student Daily Living
Cable/satellite TV/cell phone
Replacingdamaged or lostproperty
Housing and dormfurnishings
Meals outside of the meal plan
Parking and transportation
As students leave campus to joinfamily and friendsduring semester and holiday breaks, these are opportunities for parents and students to review and adjusttheir budgeted livingexpenses. It is highlyrecommended for both the student and parent to be involved in the planning process. These conversations are valuable lessons and offer students an opportunity to manage theirown spending budget as they prepare for the future.
Whether the student attends a large university or small college, they will still face the challenge of planning for non-tuition expenses. The choice of attending a large university offering a wider range of degrees, more clubs,greater resources, and access to alumni, compared to a small college with more personalized attention for each student, can ultimately come down to theseextra costs. Be sure to think throughthem carefully before makingsuch an important life decision. Talking to a financial planner is a great way to gain extra knowledge and move forward withconfidence.
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