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Categorized | Paying For College

Go to College Prepared: Don’t Be THAT Guy

collegemoney1Most prospective college students know that tuition, housing and textbooks cost a significant amount of money. However, there are also several hidden expenses that add up over time. This can result in long-term student loan and credit card debt. Estimate these costs when budgeting for your college education.


Depending upon where you decide to live, you may incur travel expenses when attending classes, buying groceries or visiting your family. The average American college student spends almost $1,100 per year on transportation, according to Wells Fargo. Among other things, travel costs include parking fees, bus tickets and taxi fares. Some of these expenses range from free to several dollars in different locales; city Web sites often list specific prices.


The small size of a one-room apartment or dorm room may encourage you to recreate more often. Peers may also persuade you to visit movie theaters, bars, fraternity houses or stadiums. Unfortunately, college recreation often proves costly. You will probably spend money on travel, admission fees and expensive snacks or drinks. For example, the latest statistic from the National Association of Theater Owners puts the average price of a movie ticket at almost $8. The cost of attending a concert currently exceeds $67, according to the New York Post.


It’s difficult to cook or store substantial amounts of food in a dorm room. Even if you rent an apartment, you will probably eat lunch at the university. Cafeteria and restaurant meals typically cost several times more than they would at a grocery store. The USDA indicates that Americans spend about $93 to $171 per month to eat at home. Various estimates put the cost of college cafeteria meals at $5 to $9, so the monthly cost is approximately $630. One way to reduce this expense is to find local eateries with student discounts.


A furnished dorm room or apartment usually lacks a number of items that you will need to purchase. For example, many students need to buy bedding, fans, reading lamps and hair dryers. Small air conditioners cost at least $100 new. The average American college student spent about $837 on electronics, clothing and furnishings in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.


To protect yourself from the financial consequences of theft or fire, you might want to insure your belongings. Your parents may have homeowners insurance that will cover items in your dorm room. The cost of this coverage varies from one state to another, according to An alternative is to purchase a separate dorm or renters policy.

Insurance is important because theft remains a serious problem at colleges. For instance, the University of Oklahoma reported that thieves stole over 400 bicycles on campus between 2007 and 2012. They were valued at nearly $160,000. Shared housing also provides thieves with easier access to valuable electronics and textbooks. The Times Union blog offers some tips on protecting your belongings in college.

Washing Laundry

College students typically have to use coin-operated laundry equipment. You may also need to buy laundry bins, detergent and dryer sheets. The cost might come as a surprise if you presently wash clothing at your parents’ house. Also, most small housing units don’t give residents the opportunity to save money by putting up clotheslines. It costs roughly $3.50 to wash and dry a load of laundry. Some apartment and dorm buildings have laundromats; if not, you can use the Laundromatic app to find one.


You may be accustomed to using a landline phone with unlimited regional calling. If you move to a dorm, non-local calls may become much more expensive. Students often use cellphones, calling cards or payphones to communicate. These methods generally vary in cost depending upon the length of a telephone call. Most people pay at least $70 per month for cellphone service, says Time magazine. Most wireless providers offer student discounts.

Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize the expenses associated with college. You can do without a car, buy used merchandise and compare insurance companies to find the best rates. Adequate income will reduce the amount of debt you accumulate; consider scheduling classes so that you have time for a part-time job.

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2 Responses to “Go to College Prepared: Don’t Be THAT Guy”

  1. Andrew says:

    Eating at home is a great way to save cash!

    I bought a got a big fridge and freezer second hand off Ebay for $200, now all my food is bought cheap and in bulk, saves me hundreds every month!

  2. andrew says:

    College is a very big step and if not taken seriously, it could lead to a lot of trouble. Careful planning is essential to success. Your post should help out a lot of new attendees.