The Hidden Cost of College

When budgeting for college, many families forget to factor in hidden out-of-pocket expenses. These are costs that go beyond tuition, room and board. While these costs will vary by school, they can add up quickly.

Here are some hidden costs of college to watch out for:

  1. Books – College textbooks can be very expensive. Rather than buying brand new, look into renting books from reputable sites such as Chegg or Amazon, downloading e-books or buying used.
  2. Food – Most schools offer meal plans, and you should go with the plan that best reflects the way you will use it. But don’t forget extra money for late-night pizzas, dorm room snacks, etc.
  3. Transportation – Bringing a car to campus? Be sure to budget for parking and filling up your gas tank. Is your hometown far away from campus? Don’t forget the added costs of airfare or train tickets. Plan your trips well in advance to account for peak travel times over the holidays.
  4. Greek Life – Going Greek is a great way to make friends and get involved on campus! But, don’t forget about initiation fees, membership dues and potential costs of living in a sorority or fraternity house rather than traditional campus housing. Special activities can also be costly.
  5. Studying Abroad – While most schools allow you to transfer to partner schools to study abroad under your normal tuition, that doesn’t typically account for airfare, living expenses and visas (if needed). Some schools may provide a stipend to help cover some of these costs to encourage students to experience a semester abroad.

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