College Parents: Be Prepared for Some Extra College Costs

You know that the cost of college tuition is high.  Perhaps you have been preparing for years to be able to help finance your student’s education.  As your student progressed through the admissions process, you may have discovered some additional costs that you hadn’t anticipated: application fees, SAT prep courses, and the costs of visiting numerous campuses to find just the right one.

Now that your student has been accepted and is about to head off to school, you’ve received your first tuition bill.  The bottom line on the statement may have shocked you, but at least, you thought, you knew what was ahead.  However, there are often additional costs that may take parents and students by surprise.

Most parents and students know that there will be some initial costs as they prepare for that first year of college.  There will be dorm furnishings, and perhaps additional funds for food and gas (if your student is taking a car to school), clothing and supplies throughout the year. However, there may be some unexpected or hidden costs.  These will vary by school, of course, but here are a few to think about and possibly anticipate.

  • Many schools have Orientation sessions during the summer before freshman year.  If your student (and you) will be attending Orientation, take into consideration the costs of travelling to the school and possibly staying in a hotel and paying for some meals.  Some schools charge a fee for Orientation and others do not. (But don’t skip Orientation because of the costs.  It is well worth every penny.)
  • Many students and their families underestimate the costs of textbooks for classes.  Most courses will require one or more textbooks, and many textbooks may cost close to or well over $100.  If your student is taking 4-5 classes, these costs may add up quickly.  Make sure that your student is prepared to spend several hundred dollars per semester on books.  You do not want your student to ”save” money by skipping the textbook — unless it is available in the school library.  Students may sell books back at the end of the semester, but at a fraction of the initial cost.
  • Your student will need a computer or laptop.  Although most schools have computer labs, and some students do their work there, this is often inconvenient as the hours of the labs may be limited.  Most students heading to college do so with their own computer.
  • Depending on your student’s classes, they may be required to pay lab fees, have special equipment, or purchase specialized software.  Your student may want to inquire about these additional costs when they register for classes.
  • Some campuses charge extra for parking permits or stickers.  If your student is taking a car to campus, they should check about the costs.
  • If your student plans to join a fraternity or sorority or other social club, there are often fees or dues for membership.
  • If your student is attending college a distance from home, they will want to anticipate the costs of travelling home for breaks or vacations.  Often, students heading home at Thanksgiving or Christmas are travelling during the most expensive travel seasons and should plan accordingly.
  • If you will be visiting campus during Family Weekend or helping your student move in on Move-in Day, don’t forget to include the costs of travel and possibly hotel and restaurant costs.
  • If your student hopes to study abroad at some point during their college career, they should investigate early the potential additional costs.  Although some colleges charge the normal tuition, students are usually responsible for their transportation costs — as well as costs to travel while abroad.

Although the cost of college tuition is high, the cost of college does not end there.  It is important that you and your student plan early for the potential additional costs that may arise.  Being prepared will prevent ”sticker shock” later.

Related Posts:

College Students and Credit Cards

12 Topics Parents Should Cover to Help College Students Gain Financial Literacy

Should My College Student Get a Job at School?

What Kinds of On-Campus Jobs Are Available for My College Student?



FirstTerm banner ad

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Log In


Log In to Favorite articles and Post listings

Enter College Name to See Local Results

Log In

Contact Us

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

Find Your School

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Please enter First Name Please enter Last Name Please enter Phone
Please enter Email
Please enter Message

By clicking this button,
you agree to the terms of use

Please enter Email

By clicking "Create Alert" I agree to the Uloop Terms of Use.

Image not available.

Success, your registration has been submitted

An email has been sent to you with a link to verify your registration
Image not available.
By clicking Get Started or Sign In you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service