Unexpected College Costs

This blog post is provided by the Unigo Expert Network, a group of top education experts from across the U.S. answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school. To have your questions answered visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions

“What are some of the most unexpected costs for incoming freshman?” —Peter T., Covington, KY

Surprises Lurk Beyond Tuition, Room, and Board Linda Turner, President, The College Choice

Think about the items in your bedroom, your bathroom, the kitchen and the family room that you can’t live without. If you’re planning on taking duplicates to college, your shopping list will be expensive. Do you need that down comforter? The microwave and refrigerator always at your command? The high-quality entertainment center? Once you’ve installed these items in your dorm room, don’t be surprised to find that the cost of books and school supplies surpasses the budget you imagined. Be prepared to order food outside of your meal plan more than you expect, and if you pledge a Greek organization, the costs will jump substantially.

Orientation, Trips Home, and Storage All Add Up! Jolyn Brand, Founder, Orientation

One of the most unexpected college expenses is usually the student’s very first time on campus: Freshmen orientation. Many college campuses charge a fee to attend, and don’t forget to include travel and hotel costs if the family is also going, and meals, since most student meal plans won’t be in effect yet. Another unexpected expense is travel for trips home. Most students are going to want to go home 3 to 4 times a year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and summer). One final expense is storage over summer break. Many parents rent a truck to take it home for the summer; others pay storage in the college town for 3 months.

What You Don’t Know Won’t Save You Money: Hidden College Costs Jeannie Borin, Founder & President, College Connections

In addition to tuition, housing, computers and books, there are hidden costs that can put a dent in your college spending budget. Some things to think about include purchasing software required by some courses, additional library fees, late-night food items and concert tickets. Be aware, too, that tuition rates may change while you are a student and there could be some healthcare costs (many colleges offer insurance plans for students). Decorating your dorm room with a new carpet, longer dorm bed sheets and a small fridge and microwave can run into more dollars. There are also fees for sporting events and parking passes. Add on travel expenses home, too. Budget carefully and spend wisely!

Get the full story from 35 more experts -- including the Dean of Admissions at University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan University, and more -- at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork. To send your question to our experts, visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions

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