Budgeting For College

Making a realistic budget and sticking to it are very much part of college life. Before starting college, take a look at possible additional expenses you might encounter:

Do research on these topics at your new university and break down your costs by semester and by academic year.

All expenses will vary from university to university, as well as your style and comfort of living.  Here is a list of additional expenses to consider:

1. Transportation 

If you will be traveling further than normal, gas/train/airplane etc. costs will need to be watched.

Coming home on weekends/holidays or more daily travel will need to be factored into your budget.

2. Food

If you are not living at home you will need to plan for meals away.

You may be able to cook where you live or you might consider purchasing a campus meal plan.

3. Clothing

If you change climates for your new university you may need to purchase additional weather related clothing.

New York will require a heavy winter coat, but Florida will require more light clothing options.

4. Accommodation

Regardless if you choose to live on or off campus this topic can create a lot of additional expenses.

The other big factor to this topic is deciding to live with or without roommate(s). Consider your preferred style of living, yet keep your budget in mind.

5. Household Items and Supplies

If you live off or on campus there is a good chance that household items and supplies will need to be purchased.

Possible items you may need to purchase: linens, blankets, pillows, towels, dishes, pots and pans, furniture etc.

6. Academic Program

Your academic program may require the purchase of additional items.

For example, nursing programs will typically require a uniform and many other career related products. You will not be able to continue the program without these items.

7. Tuition

This is of course factored in for the fall and spring semesters, but you may want or need to attend summer courses.

You may also get the choice to take online classes and then your other related expenses can vary, too.

8. Textbooks

University books are typically quite expensive.  New or used books are usually your options. Unfortunately you may be forced to purchase new editions.

It is possible to find books online, but you need to be proactive about it. Additionally, you can look at a class or two from your academic program and consult with the university book store to get an idea of costs.

9. Graduation

Even though you are ending your education there will be graduation related expenses. You will be required to rent or purchase your cap and gown.

The fee for the cap and gown typically increases per education level. You may also want to purchase professional graduation photos directly from the graduation ceremony event. 

You will also need a new set of transcripts when applying to jobs and then being hired.

You may or may not have to pay for your actual diploma, but for sure you will if you request additional copies.

The Records department will have a fee per transcript. Go to our applying for graduation section to find out more information.

10. Entertainment/Leisure

Your new university may be located in a large metropolis area.  More choices often mean larger price ranges on everything.  

A movie may cost $10 in your home town, but an upscale trendy theater may cost you $18.

Another example is that universities will typically have a student gym that included within student tuition fees. Yet, if you prefer a different kind of gym then an additional gym membership will be required.

Tot up all of the above, and work out exactly how much you are likely to need to survive each month.

If you're not sure your budget will stretch, see if you (or anyone else) can find areas where you could reasonably cut down on your expenditure.

Further information

For more tips and advice on applying to college in the U.S, please see: