When many people start planning how to pay for college, they think of tuition, room and board, and meal plans. While there is no doubt that these are the major expenses, there are many other costs that can greatly increase the cost of attending a college of university. Students who are not prepared can find themselves in a financial bind with few options. When planning your college finances, make sure to figure in these common costs:
Textbooks and other required supplies can easily add almost $1,000 each semester to college costs, not counting a laptop or other computer. Some majors, such as those in science, may cost more than that. Plan for these costs and try to cut expenses by buying used textbooks or by renting books.
Computers and Laptops
Even though most colleges have computers that students can use, a laptop is a necessity for many. A decent laptop or computer will cost several hundreds of dollars or more. In addition, you will need a couple of thumb drives.
Many courses, from art to science, require lab fees that can range from $10 to $50 per class. Some of these classes will also require the purchase of lab coats or other supplies from the bookstore. Find out what materials are required as soon as possible so you can budget for these extra expenses.
Social Fees and Greek Dues
If you plan to join a fraternity or a sorority, the social dues can cost between $400 and $800 a year. However, this cost is offset by the lower costs of living into a Greek house. Even if you do not choose to join a Greek organization, social fees and activity fees can run as high as $200 to $400 each year.
Cell Phone Service
You will likely call and text much more when you are at college. Check your cell phone plan to ensure that you have a service that will meet your needs. Even though unlimited calling and texting may be more expensive, you will save a great deal of money by avoiding overages.
There are many temptations at college that can add up to big spending. Whether you are going out for pizza a few times a week or taking in a couple of movies, recreation costs can add up. The best way to handle this is to budget a set amount at the beginning of each semester and make it last. If you lack self control, try to budget a smaller amount each month and stop spending when it is gone.
The true cost of attending college is much more than tuition and room and board. By having a true picture of what it will cost to earn a degree, you can be much more prepared to meet the financial challenges involved.