CollegeQandA asks: What are the hidden costs of college?

It’s not just tuition and room and board

Routlette WheelThe idea that college is expensive is in our common culture, and it’s true.  The sticker price (sticker price = the tuition cost and sometimes the room and board costs) of colleges is regularly quoted to give you an idea of the base cost of attending college.  Note that depending on your situation, sticker price is not what you should expect to pay when considering discounts and scholarships.  However, sticker price is a nice ballpark starting point to calculate costs.

The reality is that there are other costs – hidden or not – that are not quoted in the sticker price.  I knew of these additional costs, but an excellent NPR article got me thinking about this more.  There are hidden costs, and these costs can be significant if you don’t watch it.

Hidden costs

What are the hidden costs of college?  The article lists a few of these hidden costs, and I’ve added some of mine in the following list:

  • Textbooks – sometimes required for classes
  • Travel – how are you going to get to and from college
  • Healthcare – you need to be protected if you get sick
  • A new laptop – is it really needed?
  • Your phone – the plan and the phone are pricey
  • Calculator – you can’t use your phone on an exam
  • Clothes – you need to wear something
  • Coffee – fancy caffeine drinks aren’t cheap
  • Alcohol – if you’re of drinking age it can be expensive
  • Class supplies – depending on what you are doing you need supplies
  • Fees – any club or organization you are a member of might have membership fees

Shared knowledge

This is an ongoing list/idea that I think we should build and improve on to help others.  In a previous article, I talked about the moving list hack that I created to help you automate packing. I’ve added a second page to that document trying to list and estimate additional college costs that you might need to consider.  Please consider commenting or writing me with other costs so we can collectively help ourselves and improve on this shared knowledge.

Credits: photo title: So Close; by Bruce Martin

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