You’ve got the tuition, room, and board taken care of with scholarships, grants, work study, your college savings and possibly some loans. You know you have to figure in some costs for textbooks, dorm accessories and possibly a laptop. But, is that all you have to factor in for college expenses? It’s unlikely.
The add ons might surprise you.
Here are just a few added costs that can tack on hundreds and even thousands to your college expenses (and check out these 10 easy ways to lower your college costs).
Even though most colleges have student health centers for minor ailments like colds and flu, colleges require that your child be covered by health insurance. You can keep them on your policy until they graduate but if your family medical coverage doesn’t include your student, you will have to secure coverage. You can apply for this coverage either through a private student health plan or the government health insurance marketplace. Be sure to notify the college of your coverage so they won’t bill you for theirs.
If your child is bringing a computer to campus (especially a laptop), I highly recommend you purchase this insurance. It covers loss, damage, and theft and it’s worth every penny you will spend. Check with your homeowner’s insurance to see if this is covered first.
Dorm contents insurance
Although most campuses say they are secure, students tend to leave their doors unlocked and let anyone into their dorm halls (even if they don’t know them). This insurance is very inexpensive, but worth the additional cost.
- Gym fees
Some colleges include these in tuition, but some don’t. Michigan State and Penn State charge for the use of their on-campus facilities (up to $80 per semester). Inquire about the costs before your student enters college in the fall.
Parking and car registration
Many campuses discourage freshmen from bringing cars to college. But if your teen is commuting, they will have to pay those fees to park while they attend classes. Without a college parking sticker, tickets will add up quickly. Inquire about this when your student registers for classes.
These pesky little add-ons appear on your bill every semester. They can start at $100 and go up into the thousands. What are they? Every college uses them to offset expenses without having to state specifics.
Dorm damage deposit
This fee will appear on your bill if your child is living on campus. Expect to pay it every year but don’t ever expect to get it back. College students are notorious for abusing their dorm rooms. Even if yours is a neat freak, odds are the roommate won’t be.
College campus cards
These cards are used for on-campus necessities (laundry, snacks, copies, class supplies from the campus bookstore). They are like debit cards and you will need to load the card with money once your student arrives on campus. As it runs out, your student will need to add money to it.
Colleges have computer labs, Wi-Fi access, Ethernet connections, and video equipment and often charge fees for maintaining these services.
In addition to tuition, colleges charge fees for the use of lab equipment. If your student is a STEM major, you can expect these additional costs.
If your child is considering a sorority or fraternity, there are yearly dues ($100 to $500), not to mention all the other costs they will incur: T-shirts, pins, formal attire, gifts for sisters/brothers. This is a high-priced add-on and cost should be part of the decision to pledge and join.
More than two-thirds of college students report receiving funds from home each month. The cost for this will depend on how much you are willing to contribute and how much you expect your student to contribute towards their entertainment.
If your teen is traveling to a college away from home, don’t forget to factor in those travel costs: gas, airfare, and other transportation costs. You can count on at least three to four home visits the first year of college.
You can see that $100 here and $200 there can easily add up to thousands of dollars added on to the money you are already spending on that college education. Be smart and plan ahead for these expenses. Be smarter and encourage your student to work during college. Studies show that students who invest in their education take it more seriously and spend less than those who don’t.
[Looking for more info from The TeenLife Experts? Here's how to avoid being a college dropout statistic!]