Be Prepared For the Little Things That Might Add Up

Congratulations on your acceptance to the college of your choice! Your goals are set for a rewarding future. On your way to college it is necessary to be prepared for the little things that might add up. There are four main categories outside of tuition and fees that you will need to think about when calculating your budget:  Books and Supplies, Room and Board, Travel and Transportation, and Personal Expenses.


As an example we have listed an average annual cost of attendance to in-state student at a public university for Fall 2015 – Spring 2016:

Tuition $13,020.00
Required Fees $4,204.00
Room and Board $13,847.00
Books and supplies $1,000.00
Travel and Transportation $1,100.00
Personal Expenses $1,000.00
Room& Board
On Campus Housing $9,041.00
Meal Plan $4,806.00


In addition, we have listed an average cost of attendance to a private university for Fall 2015 – Spring 2016.

Tuition $35,940.00
Required Fees $3,432.00
Room and Board $12,622.00
Books and supplies $1,000.00
Travel and Transportation $1,100.00
Miscellaneous Expenses $2,255.00
Room & Board
On Campus Housing $9,012.00
Meal Plan $3,610.00


Books, Books, Books

Books and supplies for college can add up. There are alternatives to lowering your costs that include renting textbooks or buying used textbooks. Some books can also be found online and these can be downloaded at a lower cost.  Be aware of addition class fees like art or chemistry, these type of classes may require you to pay for materials and lab use.

Travel, Park, Pay

If your college is located near by, you can save money on campus housing and commute to school. Be sure to research city parking lots or inquire with the school the cost of parking permits on campus. Calculate the cost of gas and tolls for your travel expenses and set aside savings for unforeseen car repairs.

Dorm, Suite, Apartment

If you decide to move on campus there are various choices for housing. Many dorms will have community bathrooms where the toiletries and cleaning services are included in the room charge. Some dorm rooms are called Suites, these have living areas and bathrooms, but you will need to purchase toiletries and cleaning supplies. Some colleges offer apartment style rooms with kitchens; this will help alleviate a large meal plan at the cafeteria. In most cases the room will have a bed, mattress, desk and chair. You will have to supply your bedroom room with other furnishings that would include lamps, bedding, curtains, rugs, storage containers, mirrors, towels, laundry baskets, waste baskets, hair dryers, mini refrigerators, coffee makers and microwaves. Cleaning supplies are good to have in the dorm room as well, such as brooms, dusters and vacuums.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A monthly allowance should be accounted for food and entertainment. These costs can sometimes come as a big surprise when not well budgeted. Whether you are on a meal plan or not, the cost of buying snacks and beverages for your dorm or for eating out should be added to your budget plan.  

Friends, Socializing, Fun

Socializing and entertainment costs should also be considered when budgeting for college. Tickets for sporting events, concerts, theater and movies are all part of the campus life experience. Joining clubs and intramural sports include memberships fees that can also come as a surprise, so weigh your options before making a commitment.

Ready, Set, Go!

Your college experience will be smooth if you can organize your budget before your first day begins. So create a spreadsheet and plug in all the numbers. Remember what one the greatest innovators once said: “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” – Alexander Graham Bell.


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