Preparing for All the Costs of College
What you should know about those less obvious costs
Although a college education is a great way to prepare your child or grandchild for the future, you'll need to first prepare yourself financially. In addition to the big costs of tuition and room and board, there are some smaller, less obvious costs about which you should be aware:
Books and class supplies
If you attended college years ago, you may have gotten sticker shock when you bought your first set of books. This hasn't changed. According to huffingtonpost.com, the average cost of books and class supplies for the 2010-2011 school year was $1,137. Students can pay as much as $200 for a single textbook. Here are some suggestions for defraying the cost of textbooks:
- See if the textbook is available at the college library.
- Use online book swaps. These let students buy their books from and sell them to each other.
- Share textbooks with other students, such as roommates.
- Purchase electronic textbooks. In many cases, electronic books are less expensive.
Most high schools require students to have their own computers, so this is a given for your college student. According to huffingtonpost.com, the average retail price for a college computer is $1,700. In addition, your student may need other electronics, including a printer, external hard drive, scanner or specific software, depending on his or her chosen field of study.
Even if you purchase a meal plan, your child will need additional money to pay for the occasional late-night snack. You should budget $25 to $30 a month.
Sorority or fraternity fees
If your child wishes to join a sorority or fraternity, you will have to pay fees that can range from $100 to $500 per year, according to U.S. News & World Report.
While many campus events are free, your child may want to attend concerts, movies and other events that require him or her to have money on hand. Plan on $100 or more per semester for entertainment.
Lab or art fees
It's not uncommon for colleges to charge fees for art studio or lab time and supplies. If your child is majoring in one of the sciences, these costs can add up over four years. Be sure to check with the college to determine these fees in advance.
Depending on the school and your individual health plan, your child may required to purchase health insurance, which could cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 a year. The acceptance process of any college typically includes proof of insurance.
Will the student attend a school that's far away from home? If so, you'll have to finance the costs of having your child fly home for holiday, spring and summer breaks. Also, if you plan on attending Parents' Weekend, you'll need to budget money for airfare, meals and hotel.
Commuting to college saves thousands in room and board fees, but unless you live within bicycling distance of the school, you'll need to remember the costs of transportation. Train fare; bus fare; or the cost of a decent used car, gas and insurance needs to be part of your budget.
We can help
If you need assistance financing the cost of some of these expenses, talk to us. We offer a wide range of loan programs, including personal and home equity loans, as well as supplemental student loans to help you manage the costs.
We can also help your student access the solutions he or she needs to start building a financial future.
For more information, stop by or give us a call. We'd be happy to give you a quick primer on the options available to you. It definitely pays to know before you owe.