College Costs Beyond Tuition and Books

on February 3, 2017

Students and parents budgeting for college can forget that students spend money on more than just the big-ticket expenses.


Beyond tuition, books and room and board, a student living on campus while attending a four-year public school will still spend about $3,270 on expenses per year, according to a survey by The College Board.


Here’s a list of some items many students — especially ones living in a dorm or in their own place off campus — should be prepared to open their wallets for:


Dorm Room Decor


Universities and some off-campus apartments provide the basics — a bed, a desk and maybe a dresser or a closet. But most students want to add comforting personal touches to make their room look more like home and less like a jail cell.


Students spend an average of $126 on furnishings, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a fraction of the almost $900 students spent on amenities to go back to school, including electronics, apparel and personal care items.


Off-Campus Food


Even students with the best meal plans fall victim to the siren of 3 a.m. pizza. Some decide on-campus coffee will never beat a Starbucks caramel frap. More than half of college students spend more than $100 per month on restaurants, groceries and drinks, according to a survey by OnCampus Advertising.




Even if you live on campus, transportation costs abound. Uber rides and the maintenance of owning a bike or a car adds up. The College Board estimates students living on campus will spend  $1,160 on transportation during 2016-2017.




Students will face additional costs depending on their interests and hobbies. Activities and clubs sometimes require students to pay fees. Greek life will easily run members several hundred dollars per semester, and can be more than $1,000 at some chapters.




If your school has a football or basketball team and you plan to go to several games a year — if not the whole season — it can be costly. Stocking up on gear with your school’s logo and colors also is pricey, so budget accordingly when looking at the year ahead.

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