College Expenses to Budget For

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Are you planning for college? Getting a college degree is a great investment, but it does come at a significant cost. In addition to tuition, there are a few other expenses you’ll have to plan for. While it may seem daunting, don’t let the cost prevent you from getting a degree. By planning ahead and putting money into an education savings account as soon as you can, you’ll put yourself in a better position to handle your college expenses. Creating a budget will make it even easier.

So, what are the major college expenses? There are five to budget for:

Room and board

Colleges offer a variety of dorm room options and meal plans for students who live on campus. If you’re planning to live off campus, you’ll have to budget for rent and your own food.

Books and supplies

These expenses just keep going up. Books and supplies can cost between $1,200- $1,500 per year at a 4-year public college. To reduce expenses, buy used copies or see if they’re available to rent on Amazon or Chegg.

Appliances and Equipment

You’ll need to get a laptop, but probably not a printer. Ask your college if they have printers available to students. If you’re living in a dorm room, you’ll need lamps, sheets, towels, a vacuum, a microwave, and a small refrigerator. If you’re living in an apartment, you’ll also need a bed, plates, cooking utensils, etc.


Owning a car is generally the most expensive option. You’ll need to pay for gas, maintenance, insurance, and possibly parking. If you can bike or walk to most places and use public transportation, you’ll be able to save here.

Personal expenses

This includes everything else you’ll buy, like your cell phone service, money for the laundromat, haircuts, entertainment, etc.

Creating a budget and sticking to it can be a pain, but it will truly make your life in college easier. It’ll keep you on track financially – and when your finances are under control, you have one less stressor in your life. Plan ahead for these expenses and use a budget to keep expenses under control. You’ll not only come out of your college experience with a degree, but financial skills you’ll take with you for the rest of your life.

Copyright 2019 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.
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