Don’t Forget These Hidden College Costs


College costs go far beyond tuition — according to a study by the College Board, 61 percent of college costs go towards expenses other than tuition. While you may begin your academic career expecting to pay for books, room and board, you’ll also have to make room in your budget for your lifestyle, class fees and transportation, among other factors. Here’s an overview of what to look out for.

Hidden class fees

Many classes come with unexpected fees. Chemistry and biology classes often charge lab fees, and you’ll have to pay for your own safety gear, like a lab coat and goggles. But future scientists aren’t the only ones expected to dish out some extra dough — these fees can also hit students in the visual and performing arts. Therefore, artists should make room in their budgets for necessary supplies and studio time. On top of these expenses, Business Insider contributor Brittney Laryea explains that some online classes come with unexpected fees. If you can’t find information on whether or not a class comes with an additional fee, contact the instructor or ask your advisor.

Social life

Socializing is an integral part of the college experience — and it can easily become a massive drain on your bank account. When you’re going to bars with your friends, paying for dates, ordering pizza and attending events, the expenses add up quickly. But the price of the college social experience doesn’t stop there — according to Cheatsheet contributor Megan Ellis, Greek life can also get expensive. In addition to yearly membership fees, you should also plan to cough up some money for gifts, merchandise, events and potentially, infractions for policy violations like missing a meeting. If you’re looking to tighten up your budget without missing out on fun, see what kind of discounts you can get with your student ID. Your student status may entitle you to free admission at some museums or allow you to receive discounts at movie theaters and restaurants.

Transportation costs

If you’re commuting to campus, factor in how much it will cost you to drive to school. In addition to paying for fuel, you’ll also have to pay for insurance and an on-campus parking pass. Dorm-dwelling students shouldn’t ignore these costs, either — if you have a vehicle, you’ll likely have to buy an overnight parking pass for it. And even if you don’t have a car, you’ll still need some mode of transportation. Take this into account by budgeting for bus fare, ridesharing services or rental vehicles. To cut your transportation costs without sacrificing mobility, travel author Erin Gifford suggests checking out services like Megabus, Bolt Bus and College Carpool.

Medical care

Unless you’re covered by an existing health plan, you may have to purchase healthcare coverage from your university. Business Insider explains that many colleges automatically enroll students in healthcare coverage, regardless of whether they’re currently insured. If you don’t want to get stuck with the bill for redundant insurance, you can waive your participation. However, you’ll probably have to submit documentation to prove that you have sufficient coverage. If you aren’t insured, you don’t have to purchase coverage through your educational institution — you can probably get a better deal through a state or federal health insurance marketplace.

Want to learn more about managing your college expenses? Speak with your family, a financial advisor or your university’s financial aid department for more guidance on navigating fees and expenses.

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