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Paying for College

Have you Heard about the Hidden Costs of College? 

Updated November 2, 2022

Why is college so expensive? Sure, we’ve all heard of the expected college costs, tuition and room and board, and how high those costs are for most students.  In fact, US News and World Report estimates that tuition has risen 134% since 2002. While the cost of tuition is rising, there are also other less talked about/unknown hidden costs in your daily life that you need to account for as well. 

When budgeting for college, it’s super easy to forget about these hidden costs of being away from home. Trying to anticipate some of these costs ensures that you aren’t broke mid-semester, eating ramen for three meals a day.  (Trust us. It’s no fun. Your future self will thank you.) 

Beyond Academic Costs


While some academic costs are apparent like tuition, others crop up along the way. Did you know some colleges charge administrative fees for just enrolling or attending their school?!  That’s on top of books you might need, like art materials and supplies or lab equipment and fees, and tech-related costs (like a computer or a new TI-84 Graphing calculator).


Study Abroad


Spain? England? France? Indonesia? Guatemala? If you find yourself hankering for a different culture, whether to study language, art, economics, archeology or anthropology, a study abroad program may be in your future. That’s something most students and families aren’t thinking about going into senior year of high school. It’s an unexpected cost that’s rich with learning, life experience and perseverance, but it’s also not something planned or saved for by most families.   Find out more about the costs of studying abroad here.

Being Social


College is a time to go out, socialize, and meet people and that requires money. While you may have budgeted some dollars for it, there may be club dues or fees from campus organizations, like Greek Life, that weren’t on your radar. You may eat off-campus more than you planned in a given month. Lastly, if you’re going to a big sports school, you can add athletic event tickets, gear, tailgating and face paint to the list as well!

Day-to-Day Expenses


Then, there’s just the day-to-day of running your life. Living in off-campus housing is very different than living on-campus. You have rent, utilities like electric and internet service, groceries, cell phone, furnishing/outfitting your room or apartment and even transportation (whether that be public transit or a car). Also, there are a lot of personal expenses for things like clothing, toiletries, haircuts and laundry. With inflation at an all-time high, most everyone is going to feel the pinch of rising costs in these items.  

Basically, there are a lot of costs that most people don’t consider or anticipate for college – don’t let the small stuff fall through the gaps. College is expensive, and it’s likely a bit overwhelming at first, but being on top of it and planning in advance, will go a long way. 


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