Well, it’s official. We will have two children in college starting in August. Two! Take a deep breath and think of the cost of two college educations. But we’ve learned that in addition to the astronomical costs of tuition and room and board, there are many unexpected hidden costs of college that we hadn’t planned for. It’s important to research all the possible costs of college your child will be facing so that you can best explore your options to pay for college and all the associated costs.
Education is important in my family. It’s part of our family tradition that I can trace back to my maternal great-grandmother and paternal grandfather. They both sacrificed to provide a better education than they had received for their children. That legacy has continued through the generations in my family. With that legacy, it won’t surprise you (much) to learn that my husband and I started saving for our children’s college education five years before we had our first child. We had started saving by thinking of tuition and room and board. After sending my first “baby” off to college, we quickly learned of many more unexpected costs of college. Although we’d been saving for college since before our children were born, the high costs of college expenses meant we needed to explore our options for scholarships, grants and student loans. To be able to make a wise decision on how to best fund your child’s college education, you first need to come to an accurate estimate of the total cost of the college education your child will be receiving and that includes the hidden costs of college.
Hidden Costs of College
Registering for and filing the CSS (College Scholarship Service) Financial Aid Profile – If the college requires the CSS Profile to be completed, you’ll pay a $25 fee to send your information to your school each year. If you qualify, the fee can be waived. But if you don’t qualify, that’s $100 you have to pay to find out if you qualify for financial aid.
Orientation – Most college require your student to attend an orientation session scheduled in the summer. Some school provide an orientation session scheduled just before school begins, but often this session is reserved for international students or students traveling a further distance. Orientation usually runs for three days and two nights. This means you’ll have the cost of transportation to and from orientation in addition to the college fee to attend orientation. Many parent choose to accompany their children to orientation to attend the parent information sessions and that will increase the cost to include transportation, hotel rooms and meals for the parents. The fee for orientation is approximately $500 plus travel costs, hotel and meals for the parents.
Health Services Fees and Required Health Insurance – Most college charge a health services fee which allows your child to receive medical service at the student health clinic on campus. Depending on the law of the state your student’s college is in, you may be required to purchase health insurance that meets that state’s specific requirement (you may find that your health insurance does not meet that state’s more stringent requirements). Health services fees are approximately $500 per year and student health insurance is approximately $3,000 per year.
Activity Fees – This is a required fee that funds student organizations, clubs and activities as well as intramural sports. Student activity fees are approximately $300 per year.
Books and Equipment – Students will need to arrive at college with a personal calculator, laptop computer and other specific equipment depending on the course of study. Each semester your student will purchase books and materials required for the registered classes. The approximate cost for equipment is a one-time cost of $1,000. The approximate total cost of books for four years is $10,500.
Lab Fees – Depending on the courses required for your student’s degree, lab fees can cost several hundred dollars a semester. Lab fees are approximately $2,000 for four years.
Surge Protector, Printer, Printer Paper – You’re sending your student to college with a pricey laptop that will be critical for her course work. I highly recommend you invest in a quality surge protector for your student. Many student dorms are in old, old buildings and you don’t want to risk damage to a charging laptop due to an electrical surge. You may also find that using the university printing option is not convenient or sufficient for your student’s needs. Many students prefer to purchase their own printer and printer paper. A surge protector is a one-time cost of approximately $25, a basic printer is a one-time cost of approximately $100, and printer paper will cost approximately $40 per year.
Sports Tickets – Depending on the college your student is attending , the cost of tickets for sporting events can add up quickly. Which sports events your student wants to attend also affects the price of tickets. The approximate cost of sports tickets $200 per year.
Fraternities/Sororities – The importance of joining a fraternity or sorority varies depending on what part of the country your student attends college in and your student’s personality and personal goals. If he decides to joining Greek life, the costs vary deepening on the school and whether he lives in Greek housing or not. Approximate costs range from $2,000 – $7,000 per year.
Dorm Supplies – At a minimum your student will need a pillow, sheets, blankets, towels, hangers and office supplies. Most students also purchase or rent a refrigerator and microwave. Many students bring a TV, basic dishes, rugs, clothes drying rack and shelving units. The approximate one-time cost for dorm room supplies range from $300 – $1,000.
Organizing Products – Most students also bring specific organizing products to make the most of the very small dorm rooms. Organizing products include bed risers, underbed storage boxes, stackable storage tubs and shelving units designed specifically for dorm rooms. The approximate onetime cost for organizing supplies is $50 – $300.
Safe – I highly recommend a safe designed to hold a laptop, your student’s important papers and any other valuable items. Hopefully your student won’t need the safe, but you never know what your student’s roommate or roommate’s friends will be like. It’s best to provide your student with the security of a personal safe, just in case. The approximate one-time cost of a safe large enough to hold a laptop computer is $125.
Moving Stuff In and Out or Storing Stuff – Your student will need to move all her belongings into and out of her dorm or housing each year. You’ll either need to bring her belongings home or find storage near the college. Costs will vary depending on how far your student’s college is from your home and the cost of storage near the college. The approximate cost of moving or storing belonging each year is $200 – $600.
Transportation Home – You’ll want to bring your student home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break if possible. Your student may have additional breaks when you’d like for him to come home. You’ll also have the cost of transportation to school in the fall and back home in the spring. These costs vary greatly depending on the distance from the college to your home and the time of year (travel is more expensive coming home and return for Thanksgiving and coming home for Christmas). The approximate costs for travel home for one year is $200 – $2,000.
Parking Fees for Car at Campus – If your student takes a car to college with her, you’ll have to pay to park the car on campus. Approximate parking fees per year are $200 – $2,000.
Study Abroad – Many students take advantage of study abroad opportunities. The costs vary greatly depending on the program and your student’s college. Be sure to factor in the cost of transporting your student to and from the overseas location. Approximate study abroad costs range from $8,000 – $34,000 per semester.
Professional Clothing – Your student will need to acquire a professional wardrobe for interviews and internships. Costs vary depending on your student’s career field, climate where your student is interviewing and working and number of outfits he will need. The approximate cost of professional clothing range from $400 – $2,000.
Miscellaneous Costs – Your student will have additional costs such as doing laundry and purchasing personal care items and laundry supplies. These costs will vary greatly depending on your student’s preferences and the school that she attends. The approximate cost is $300 – $800 per year.
Now that you have a better idea of what the total cost of your child’s college education, including the hidden costs of college, will be, you can asses how much you and your child can afford to pay and how much financial aid you’ll need to fund through scholarships, grants and loans. When looking at student loan options, it’s important to thoroughly research what’s available. All student loans are not created equal.
College Ave Student Loans has a new Parent Loan, which offers parents savings over Federal Plus loans. With College Ave Student Loans there is no origination fee and a lower fixed interest rate than with federal programs. Qualified parent borrowers receive an average savings of $1,000 as compared to the Federal Direct Parent Plus program. That $1,000 in saving could be towards the cost of college.
Since every student and every parent’s situation is different, College Ave Student Loans offers more flexibility than many other private parent loans. You have the option to have up to $2,500 deposited directly into the parent’s bank account so you can control the spending for education costs, such as books, electronics, equipment, dorm supplies and the many other additional expenses. Parents also have the choice to begin paying in full right away or to limit monthly payments while the student is in school and select your own repayment terms from 5 to 12 years. If you choose to begin paying back the loan while your child is in school, you will receive a reduced interest rate (which could reduce the total repayment amount).
The College Ave Student Loans qualification tool makes it easy to explore your options and the costs of a student loan. You can change variables like the amount of your loan, the term (or length) of the loan and even how paying $25 a month while your student is in school can reduce the loan repayment amount by almost $2,000. This loan qualification tool is easy to use and helps you make the best decision for your student, your family and your situation.
Knowing the full cost, including hidden costs, of college contributes to the best decisions on how to fund your student’s college education. You can learn more about College Ave Student Loans on their website and how they can make the student loan process easy, simple and clear for your family so that your student can focus on what’s most important – a bright future.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.