When we think of college expenses, it’s pretty common for us to consider tuition and fees that are administered through the school we intend to enroll in. Most individuals will apply for financial aid, grants, and scholarships, hoping to get the cost of their education down to an affordable out of pocket amount (or free if you’re lucky enough).
However, what is often overlooked are the other expenses associated with getting a college education. It isn’t until most college bound students start their freshman year, that they realize just how expensive the college life can be. Fear not however, as there are viable solutions that will help you to afford your college education without having to hold down a full time job… or nag your parents every other day.
Expenses You Should Consider
Financial aid, grants, and scholarships are great to have as they’re free money that you don’t have to repay for your college education. However, what must be understood is that your tuition costs don’t often cover everything you’ll need to successfully complete your degree program. There are other fees and expenses that you may very well have to pay for yourself.
Before we get into ways to pay for these expenses, I thought it might be beneficial to give you an inside look at the expenses you’ll need to prepare for:
- Books and Media – According to an article from CNBC, the average college student can spend as much as $1200 per year on books and media fees alone. However, because you need the various books and media to complete the course, there is no way around this option.
- Lab fees – Classes such as science and math may require you to utilize a lab for certain tests and assignments. Such lab fees are not often included in your tuition costs and could catch you off guard if you’re not prepared.
- Electronics – As more and more colleges turn to modern technology as a means for educating students, it will be necessary for you to have the required technology for certain classes. This may include a computer, laptop, or even a tablet in order to access class materials, take notes, or even communicate with other classmates. Depending on the required electronics, this price tag could really add up.
- Wardrobe – Though my favorite thing to wear to my morning classes were either some PJs or sweats and a campus t-shirt, these things also cost money. Unless you have a huge wardrobe already prepared, you’re going to need to have a bit of cash set aside for these costs.
- Extracurricular Activities – Thinking of joining a fraternity, sorority, or other school group? If so, you might be surprised to find that they often charge you some type of fee on the regular bases to participate.
- Furnishings – Living on campus? Well at least you don’t have to worry about apartment expenses; however, what you will have to worry about is the cost of furnishings. Most dorm rooms do not come fully furnished and therefore you’ll need some things to help you get by each day. This might include a television, microwave, mini-fridge, or even clean linens.
- Mobile Phones – You’re going to need to keep in touch with mom, dad, and your friends, and therefore, you may want to have a mobile phone service available. Even the basic mobile phone service could run an average of $50 per month.
- Food and Drinks – Well, the only way you’re going to survive is if you can eat on the regular basis. Even if you have a food voucher or credit that is paid for through your tuition costs, sometimes that just isn’t enough. You’ll need to have a little cash set aside for circumstances such as this.
- Travel – Unless you live on campus you’re going to have to commute on the daily basis to and from your classes, Whether you take public transportation, carpool, or drive your own vehicle, there are going to be expenses you’ll need to account for.
Covering Your Costs
Now that you have a better idea of the types of fees and expenses you’ll encounter while trying to get a college education, you’ll need to find a means to cover all of these costs. Below are a few suggestions on how to get by:
- Buy Used as Much as Possible – Whether you’re talking about buying books, clothes, or electronics, it is ideal that you always consider buying used first. Buying used or refurbished items can often save you a ton of money and they work just as good as a new one.
- Consider Work Study or Part Time Employment– some schools offer work study programs to students so that they can have a part time job while still getting their education. Work study programs don’t pay much but it can help when you’re in a bind. If not, consider a part time job that doesn’t conflict with your schedule.
- Student Loans – Another option for funding your excess college expenses would be to apply for a private student loan through a bank. Many of these loans can be disbursed right to you and used for whatever your educational needs might be.
- Carpooling and Public Transportation – While transportation is going to cost you something, the more affordable options would seem to be either public transportation or carpooling with other students. Each of these is a lot less expensive than the cost of gas every day.
Affording college is certainly becoming more and more challenging for the average student, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. Therefore, planning ahead and finding alternative ways to either save or earn more money is your best option. Hopefully the above ideas have given you something to think about as you begin planning for your educational future.
For more information on college expenses and ways to fund them, consider these sources below:
Sunburnt Saver, Make Extra Money With a Side Hustle, April 29, 2015. http://sunburntsaver.com/2015/04/make-extra-money-with-a-side-hustle/
Simple Tuition, Wells Fargo Student Loans, 2015. http://www.simpletuition.com/student-loans/wells-fargo/
Federal Student Aid, Understanding College Costs, 2015. https://studentaid.ed.gov/prepare-for-college/choosing-schools/consider/costs