Understanding the Costs of College
College costs have become a topic of national concern. Student debt in the United States exceeds credit card debt. College costs have also risen higher than the inflation rate.
What contributes to these costs? Here are the major costs of college.
- Tuition – This is the cost of your classes. For most campuses you’ll pay a flat rate for being a full-time student (12 hours or more). During summer semesters, tuition is for a per credit hour basis.
- Fees – You may have as many as a dozen fees on your bill. These include everything from fees for labs, library, athletic events, recreation center, student health, and other items that are supported directly by students. In most cases, you don’t have a choice in paying these fees. These are also not prorated based upon the hours you are taking.
- Housing – These are costs of residence halls or private accommodations. You may be required to stay in campus housing your first year. In general off-campus housing is cheaper.
- Food – Costs of food may be bundled with your housing. You may be able to select different meal plans depending on your own meal needs (i.e. do you eat breakfast).
- Textbooks – This is a very expensive element of your overall costs of college. See the topic: Buying Textbooks for more information on this topic.
- Computer – Most college students will need a computer. Whether you buy a laptop or a desktop, you will probably want to get a new computer before you start classes.
- Course Materials – These materials are not that different from those you used in high school but there are a few items you probably didn’t need in high school. See the topic: Identifying What You Need in Your Dorm Room.
- Other Costs – It seems like there are always additional costs. These can vary from club dues, health related costs, athletic fees and many other items.
Most colleges will produce a worksheet on their website showing you the cost of attendance. These worksheets generally only provide estimates of the costs to the university itself. They typically do not include the additional costs of college attendance that are not paid to the university..