Don’t ignore these hidden costs when planning your college budget
If you’re planning to continue your education or if your children are approaching college age, you may be shocked when you first see what tuition costs at many schools. You’ll be even more shocked if you don’t know about the hidden costs that many students and their families fail to account for when budgeting. When you know what to expect, you can make the best financial decisions for your family and make paying for college a little easier.
The following are common hidden costs associated with college:
Although fees and other expenses are associated with many on-campus clubs and organizations, Greek organizations can be the most expensive. Not only will new members most likely to be expected to pay hundreds of dollars in fees, most active members will be expected to continue paying in subsequent semesters.
“Ask the campus’s Greek-life coordinators to give you a specific rundown of fraternity and sorority fees to flesh out your budget,” states Kathryn Moody from Kiplinger. “Chapters without houses may be significantly less expensive; dues are generally $200 to $300 per semester. And many Greek chapters have scholarship programs and payment plans for their members, so you may not have to pay the fees all at once.”
While most students live on campus their first year, many are excited to get off-campus housing in their later years. Many students imagine that they can save money by cooking for themselves and not purchasing their school’s expensive meal plan, but they may end up being unprepared for budgeting and actually spend more on food and other bills.
When students live on campus, they don’t have to figure out how to afford meals and housing, it comes directly out of their financial aid check.
“For those who live off campus, only the money for tuition is taken out of financial aid, and the rest is given to the student,” states John Coogan from Marketwatch. “That means the student is responsible for using that money to pay all of their bills including rent, utilities, groceries and other expenses.”
If your student already has a vehicle, living farther from campus and driving to class can make a big difference in the cost of rent. So can finding roommates who attend the same school and can split rent and transportation costs to and from campus.
If your student is attending school in a city, you can plan on several trips on the public transportation system per day. These can really add up.
“Graham Haskin, who graduated from Emerson College in Boston, says he was dismayed by the cost of textbooks, but the really big college expense came from using public transportation,” according to Carole Moore from Bankrate.com. “The website for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington estimates student transportation costs at $1,452 per year, whether a student lives on campus or commutes.”
If your child is attending a school with a big sports culture, you can expect that he or she will want to attend games. Unfortunately, these are typically not free. If your child is a big sports fan, he or she may have even made the decision to attend a certain school because of its sports team and those schools with high-profile teams can have tickets with the steepest price tags.
“Students generally get a large discount; still, season tickets for popular sports teams in football alone can range from $77 (Virginia Tech) to $245 (University of Notre Dame),” states Moody. “Student season tickets to both basketball and football games at Indiana University are $300. If your child’s school is a powerhouse at a popular sport, expect tickets to be more expensive for that set of games.”
Talk to your child about a game budget at the start of the semester and decide on a certain number of games that he or she will attend. That way, the cost won’t continue to climb, but your child will still be able to be a part of the fun.<spanstyle=”color:#000000;font-family:tahoma;font-size:xx-small;”> Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.