When it comes to figuring out how much college will cost, tuition is just the beginning. Carefully managing expenses and planning out ways to pay for them can reduce the likelihood of overspending and accumulating unnecessary debt. Here are a few steps you can take to help you afford these additional college expenses.

Tuition isn’t the only think you need to plan for. Here are a few other expenses to work into your annual college budget: Room and board = $ 9,048, Books and supplies = 1, 137 dollars, Personal expenses: 1,989 dollars, Transportation = 1,073 dollars. Sources: Ten colleges with most expensive room and board, U.S. News; College costs: Tuition is just the beginning, finance.yahoo.com.Step 1: Break down your primary expenses.

  • Room and board (average annual cost $9,047): dorm or apartment costs, water, electricity/gas, cable, Internet, phone, groceries, snacks, and eating out
  • Books and supplies (average annual cost $1,137): books, school supplies, lab fees, and computer

  • Personal expenses (average annual cost $1,989): clothing, laundry, toiletries, haircuts, and entertainment costs
  • Transportation (average annual cost $1,073): vehicle fees, parking, gas, maintenance, and travel costs

  • Miscellaneous: insurance premiums; monthly cell phone bills; or health expenses not covered by insurance, such as office visits, treatment, and prescriptions

To help validate these costs, consider checking the college’s website for content and tools, which will help give you a better sense of the actual costs at the school.

Step 2: Identify areas where you can cut back or earn incremental funds.

  • Evaluate if it’s less expensive to live in a dorm or off campus. It might be possible to share housing with other students to split the housing costs and potentially food costs among more people.
  • Purchase used books or take advantage of your school or other book rental programs, if available.
  • Walk, bike, or use public transportation rather than driving a car, thus reducing your gas and parking expenses.
  • Take advantage of student discounts on meals at restaurants, movie tickets, or transportation with your student ID card.

  • Consider limiting the number of times you go out to eat.
  • Avoid unnecessary expenses, such as library late fees and parking fines.
  • Plan your courses carefully. Returning to school for an additional semester to get that one last required course is expensive.

  • Work study, on campus jobs, or a part-time job are examples of possible ways to offset some of those incremental expenses.

Step 3: Create a budget.

Once you have a good idea of how much college will cost, creating and sticking to an actual budget for yourself can help you live within your means. A cash flow worksheet can help provide an account of where you’re spending your money (rent, books, gas) and where you’re earning money (part-time job, work-study, savings). If you’re spending less than you’re earning, you’re in great shape. However, if your expenses exceed your income, it would be wise to look at where you could cut back, or how you could bring more money in.

If you’re starting out as a new student, college may be the first time you’ll be solely responsible for your regular budget. By going in with a plan, you can better prepare yourself to handle this new responsibility.

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