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5 Tips To Plan Your College Expenses

Plan ahead to cut school costs

There is no denying that going to college is expensive. When you see the costs of your tuition fees, accommodation, travel, food, etc. add up, the tally can be stressful and frightening. However, if you plan ahead and budget smartly, you don’t really have to worry so much. Let’s take a look at the five main categories of college expenses you will incur and how to plan for each of them effectively.

1. Tuition And Fees

Your tuition and fees will cover all your classes, student health center, athletics, etc., and will vary based on the school you choose and the classes you want to attend. Average fees for an in-state student in a U.S. public school will come to about $8,244, while for an out-state student it can be as high as $20,770 per year. This is the largest component of your annual cost.

However, do not start worrying the moment you see the fees for your classes. Remember, very few students actually pay full price to attend college. The best way to save on your tuition and fees is to look for scholarships that are granted by schools themselves as well as other organizations.

You can also apply for a loan from reputed lenders. For more information on student loans, lenders, eligibility criteria, and other related details, you can check

Another option is to spend a couple of years at an in-state school or a free community college and transfer to the school of your choice later. This allows you to get your degree from your dream school at a much lower cost.

If you are attending graduate school, the expenses can seem overwhelming. But it can become more manageable with a SoFi graduate loan, and the application process only takes a few minutes online.

2. Accommodation

The cost of accommodation is usually considered along with the cost of food. This cost depends largely on where you choose to stay and the school you attend. Living in a dorm is ideal for first-year students. This gives you the opportunity to meet and socialize with your peers outside the classroom.

Choosing to stay in a dorm is usually an all-inclusive deal that comes with meal plans. Most dorms are usually located on college campuses and this can reduce your transportation costs as well. The cost of living in a fraternity varies from school to school. Many fraternities bundle living expenses to include meals.

Some even have housemothers or cooks. Living at your parents’ house may seem like the cheapest option if you choose a school nearby. However, this may limit your social interactions.

If you need to commute by car, the cost of fuel may eventually be equivalent to the cost of staying on campus. Living in an apartment is usually the most expensive option. While it does give you more freedom, it also adds to your responsibilities and costs. For example, along with the rent, you will have to pay for utilities, groceries, and even furniture if your apartment is unfurnished.

3. Books And Stationery

The cost of your books depends on the course you decide to take up. Students with a science major typically have more expensive textbooks as compared to others.

However, there are ways to cut down on these costs. Instead of buying brand new books, look for second-hand books in good condition. You can even rent books online. At the end of your year, you can resell the books to make up for some of your initial investment. When it comes to computers and software, look for student discounts.

4. Transportation

The cost of transportation depends largely on the distance between where you stay and where your college is located. Another factor to keep in mind is the distance between your family and the school. If you have to fly home once or twice each year, this could be a substantial cost.

Students with a car also need to factor in the cost of fuel, maintenance, and parking. To save on transportation costs, consider carpooling or taking a bus. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight tickets home but try doing it a few months in advance.

5. Other Expenses

There are a few other expenses that do not fall into these categories. For example, movies, shows, laundry, and cell phone services are some of them. These costs usually average out to about $2000 per annum.

To reduce these costs, consider a family plan for your cell phone and take advantage of free entertainment provided by the school instead of going out on the weekends. Find friends who share your budget constraints and go for a picnic instead of hitting the bar.

A Few Last Words

The bottom line is that there are a million ways to save money and simultaneously have a great college experience. All you need to do is plan your budget in advance. So start planning now.

17 thoughts on “5 Tips To Plan Your College Expenses”

  1. Great post! Most people don’t think about the costs outside of tuition when they think about going to school — the cost of books alone shocks people! God forbid they actually want to eat off-campus…

  2. Great tips, Christy! Our son is graduating from college in 2 weeks, and then we’ll have two college graduates and will be done. It is expensive, but hopefully, their degrees will benefit them in their careers. Hugs ❤

  3. Very important tips for college-age students and their parents, Christy! Another way to save money is to start a degree at a junior or community college, and then transfer after the first two years. Many major schools have matriculation programs that readily accept students who have begun their coursework at one of these “commuter” campuses, which are not only cheaper but often closer to home. This allows students to begin their education without the cost of room and board (which for my kids was more expensive than the tuition at the state school!)

  4. Yes it is a very expensive time, even here in the UK.. We put a little away each month into our granddaughters account.. For that day she may wish to go to college and University.. If that is what she wishes.. Great tips here..

  5. collegefraud11

    It’s the 21st Century, & college should not be a default choice.
    1/2 who start decide college is ridiculous & leave (no degree; just debt!); 3/4 who finish never work in their field.
    Soooo, Q1 is: Does college make sense for how you want to live your life?
    (Forget your parents’ opinion. They grew up in a past world where a sheepskin meant a cushy secure job. No more!
    They could earn cost of a college semester’s tuition in a matter of weeks— not 222 days like now.)
    Q2: You need “hard skills” training for a good job &, maybe, eventually, a diploma. But, what is the most fulfilling, cost effective way to get to where you want to go?
    (IF you don’t know what the hell you want, College is THE most expensive place to figure it out.)
    I learned more bumming around Europe for 3 months than I learned in 4 years studying irrelevant mishmash in college.
    It’s your life— & today there’s a variety of ways to get a true “education”. (College does NOT necessarily equate with education)

  6. Great post! College expenses are really stressful. A degree with a great transcript is worth the stress and a student loan. There are many merit-based scholarships too. Also, financial support programs for underrepresented groups are available. As you indicated in your post, early planning is the key to cover college expenses. Thank you for writing a post on this topic.

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