If you’ve got a kid going off to college, some college expenses are obvious, and are most likely already accounted for. And that’s great. But some expenses, in one way or another, sneak up on you.
The following is a list of common unexpected college expenses we’ve collected from those “been there, done that” parents. At some point in time, we’ve all been there, right? Sharing is caring.
In addition to fees already built in to room and board, tuition and class fees, some classes (even on the freshman level) have additional class or technology fees. Many times, these will be listed in the course description – if you bothered to read it. Often, the fees are major-specific, meaning it just depends on what your kid is studying, and the classes they’ve signed up for.
There is an entire week called Rush dedicated to pledging to a fraternity or sorority during college. The benefits for belonging are appealing, but the fees add up – and fast. If it’s something you think your student would be interested in, plan to spend hundreds to a couple extra thousand dollars for this cause: membership dues, organization merch, housing (if they move in to the house), gifts, outings and more. Outside of Greek life, there are many opportunities to join other clubs and organizations that may also charge membership and additional fees.
Often, travel abroad (studying, excursions, research opportunities, etc.) isn’t on the budget-this-in-to-my-kid’s-college-expenses radar. Another great opportunity, but also pricey. Costs will vary depending on destination and length of stay, and it doesn’t hurt to have a travel abroad fund budgeted for your kid. If they never go, the money can always be allocated elsewhere.
Another one of those curve balls parents tend to overlook. Graduation fees usually include a fee to register, and an additional fee for cap and gown. Check with your child’s university to know exactly what to expect.
Ugh. Parking fees (and fines) may be a first for many students. While most campuses do offer parking, it is usually scarce, meter fed or timed – with monetary consequences for overstaying the welcome. Decide early on if your child will take a car to college, and be aware of consequences and base fees just for scoring a space.
Planning for college is a learning experience – for parents and students alike. Having a few inside tips is a great way to be better prepared, and to have financial peace of mind.
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