The Top 8 Hidden College Costs You Shouldn’t Forget When Making a Financial Plan

When making a financial plan for college, it’s crucial to consider all potential costs. While tuition and textbooks are commonly acknowledged expenses, there are several hidden costs that students often overlook. Here are the top eight hidden college costs that can catch you off guard:

  1. Room and Board: The cost of living on campus or renting an apartment near the college can be significant. This expense covers housing, utilities, and food, and it varies depending on the location and housing options available.
  2. Transportation: Whether commuting from home or traveling back and forth during breaks, transportation expenses can accumulate quickly. Consider fuel costs, public transportation fares, parking fees, or airfare if the college is far away.
  3. Personal Expenses: Personal items such as clothing, toiletries, and everyday supplies may seem minor, but they can add up over time. Budget for these items to avoid unexpected financial strain.
  4. Technology and Equipment: Many college programs require specific equipment or technology, such as laptops, software, or scientific calculators. These costs can be substantial, so it’s essential to account for them in your financial plan.
  5. Health Insurance: College students may be required to have health insurance coverage. If your family’s plan doesn’t cover you, you may need to purchase a separate policy or enroll in the college’s health insurance plan, which can be an additional expense.
  6. Campus Fees: Colleges often charge various fees for services and facilities, such as athletic facilities, recreation centers, or student organizations. These fees may not be included in the tuition, so it’s crucial to understand what fees you may be responsible for and include them in your financial plan.
  7. Study Abroad Programs: If you plan to participate in a study abroad program, there may be additional costs involved. These can include travel expenses, visas, insurance, and living expenses in the host country. It’s essential to research and budget for these expenses separately.
  8. Graduation Expenses: While graduation is an exciting milestone, it can come with unexpected costs. Cap and gown rentals, graduation photos, and celebratory events can add up, so be sure to include them in your financial plan.

Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.

As you create and maintain your budget, you’ll want to keep some important tips and suggestions in mind. Follow these five steps to deal with inflation and keep your budget intact.

Get on a budget

One of the best ways to beat inflation is to prepare a budget or spending plan. This will ensure that you are watching what you spend, and you are only spending on items that you absolutely need, regardless of how inflation affects the cost of something, like gas.

It’s better to overestimate your expenses and then underspend!

Budgeting will help you cover unusual expenses such as job loss, illness or car repairs and plan for changes that may happen while you’re in school.

One benefit of budgeting is that it helps you determine if you have the resources to spend on items that you want versus those you need.

  • Start by managing your budget and record your actual expenses even the smallest expenditures such as coffee, movie tickets can add up to big monthly expenditures. Spending $10 a day eating out during the week translates to $50 a week and $200 a month.
  • Identify whether each item on the list is something you absolutely need or is really a want.
  • If you decide you to use a credit card utilize it wisely and don’t spend more than you can afford to pay in full on a month basis. Consider signing up for electronic payment reminders, balance notices, and billing statement notifications from your credit card provider.
  • Next, prioritize each item on the list.
  • Once you have set your priorities of your wants and needs record your actual expenses.

Separate your expenses into fixed vs variable expenses

After you listed your monthly expenses, it’s time to categorize which are fixed and which are variable. Consider having two bank accounts- one for fixed expenses such as tuition, rent, car insurance, groceries, debt repayment and the other for variable expenses such as the gym membership, dining out and entertainment purchases. When you need money for entertainment just take cash so you don’t tap into the account for must-pay bills.

If your income were to decrease, you could always cancel your gym membership, postpone a vacation or reduce your takeout spending without much fallout. But you’re likely always going to have to pay for rent/room and board, transportation and insurance.

Use credit cards wisely

To use your credit card wisely, know what to look out for before applying and using your card including shopping around for the lowest interest rates.

 If you want to establish credit with a credit card, don’t have more than one. Choose one card with good rates and terms and pay off the entire balance monthly. Consider using it just to pay for one type of required expense each month so you won’t be tempted to use it to overextend. If you know you can be responsible with a credit card, apply for one that offers cash-back incentive so you can earn money on the purchases you make every day.

Credit cards can seem tempting and like free money. But to avoid the temptation of overspending, treat your credit card like a debit card, and avoid using it unless you truly need it and you can pay it off right away.

For example, If you charge $3,000 to a credit card with a 17% APR, and only pay the minimum each month — it’ll take you 10 years to pay off your initial balance, by which time you’ll have paid more than $2,200 in interest. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep low credit card balances and no overextend your credit utilization. For more information about how to build your credit, read the following article.

Apply for Scholarships

Apply for as many scholarships as you can. Unlike credit card debt, student loan debt can almost never be discharged in bankruptcy, so it is extremely important to put a plan together to paid student loans off as soon as possible.

Bottom Line

Regardless of inflation, getting an early start on building credit can help you achieve your financial goals before and after graduation, as well as help you obtain lower interest rates in the future. Just make sure to practice smart credit habits, like keeping your debt at a minimum, avoiding opening or closing too many cards. If you follow this advice, your credit score should never hold you back from your financial goals. 

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Top Hidden College Costs You Shouldn’t Forget When Making a Financial Plan