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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.
Books and supplies (average annual cost $1,137): books, school supplies, lab fees, and computer
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.
Take advantage of student discounts on meals at restaurants, movie tickets, or transportation with your student ID card.
Plan your courses carefully. Returning to school for an additional semester to get that one last required course is expensive.
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.
We’re committed to your financial success. Here you’ll find a wide range of helpful information, interactive tools, practical strategies, and more — all designed to help you increase your financial literacy and reach your financial goals.