Expenses to Expect in College

Imagine working a full-time job plus overtime every day, except rather than getting paid for it, you pay your employer instead. In a way, this is sort of what college is like. Everyone knows that college is not cheap, but it’s important to know exactly what you can expect to pay for during your time there.


The cost of tuition is going to vary drastically depending on which college you choose to attend. For a four-year bachelor’s degree, the cost ranges from an average of about $10,000-$37,000 per year. The tuition is the cost of your courses and the fees are projected in these numbers, they also include any extra costs for materials or trips in specific classes.

Student Housing

Student housing fees will differ depending on what kind of housing you choose; the most common student housing options include dorms, apartments, and Greek houses. The average cost of living on-campus in dorms is about $8,000-$10,00 depending on if you are at a public or private school. Keep in mind, if you live in a dorm room, you will probably have to buy a “meal plan” to eat your meals on campus since your dorm will not have a personal kitchen. Do your research on different affordable student housing options available in your college town. If you’re attending a college close to home, it may be worth it to live at home every now and then to save up money.

Don’t forget to add on the cost of bedding, storage, kitchenware (if in an apartment), and any other items you might want or need when moving out of your home.


As previously mentioned, living in a dorm will be a bit different than alternative housing options due to the fact that it does not have a kitchen, You may consider purchasing a microwave or mini-fridge to have a food supply at your dorm. The average American college student spends about $42-55 per week on food, which includes meal plans, groceries, and eating out.

Many students tend to forget the cost of eating out when they consider how much money will be spent on either meal plans or groceries. Chances are you will eat out here and there, whether for dates or with friends and roommates.


Remember those days as kids strolling through the aisles at Target and Walmart for back-to-school shopping with mom? Well, that doesn’t stop when you get to college, except that you may not have mom there and your “school supplies” suddenly sky-rockets in price. Textbooks are considerably expensive, but there are cheaper options available if you either rent or buy used books. Some textbooks will even have a digital copy available for cheaper, but some professors require a physical copy for their class.

Along with textbooks, there are a few other supplies to keep in mind. Laptops will range in price depending on the brand, the storage, and whether it’s new or used. While computers are usually available for use at school libraries, laptops will make it easier to work on your homework anywhere and anytime. You might also consider buying a printer for accessible convenience if your classes require a lot of printed material, although it may be cheaper to use the school printers depending on how often you print.


If you’re lucky enough to live on campus or close to campus, then transportation might not be your biggest concern. However, depending on your location, you may need to look into getting a bus pass for in-town excursions if you do not have a car. If you plan on driving to campus, then keep in mind that there will probably be hefty parking pass fees for both your apartment as well as on campus.

College is stressful enough as is. It’s smart to create a budget and list out all your expected expenses before you find yourself drowning in them later on. Get a head start on what to expect so that if needed, you can apply for a job or for scholarships to aid in your finances.

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