Hidden Back to School Expenses for College Students

Written by Scott Benjamin

August 13, 2021

Now that your kids will be headed back to campus, you need to get ready for the unexpected costs that college brings. You know the drill if your child has been in college for a couple of years already. If you have a recent high school graduate who is starting their first semester of college, you might be in for many more expenses than you originally thought. Continue reading to learn more about the hidden back to school expenses for college students.

Parking on Campus

At most colleges, you will need to pay for a parking pass if your child is living on campus and has a car at school. If your child lives off campus and does not have access to public transportation, you will need to purchase a different type of parking pass meant for commuters or off campus students. These parking passes can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars a semester to as much as couple hundred dollars a month.

Extracurricular Activity Fees 

Joining clubs and Greek life are a big part of going to college for many students. Some of these campus organizations have high membership fees. It can cost thousands of dollars a semester to be in a Greek sorority or fraternity. Other student organizations can add several hundred dollars in membership fees per semester. Keep these costs in mind as your child expresses an interest in joining one or more of these groups.

School Supplies

When you think of school supplies, you might remember buying your elementary school student crayons and tape for their classroom. In college, you still need school supplies. It might be especially helpful for your student to have a working laptop since many lectures and assignments are done online.  This eliminates the need to search out a computer on campus to get all their work done. Some students work better with writing out their notes. So, you may need to purchase notebooks, pens, and pencils. Finally, do not forget about the cost of textbooks for each semester.

Personal Expenses 

Many new college students do not have a job when they begin their college journey. That means they do not have any of their own money to support their personal lives. This includes spending money for activities, food outside of the meal plan, and bills such as their cell phone bill. While parents are most likely used to giving their child spending money, personal expenses for a college student can quickly add up in addition to other expenses.

Parents can avoid these costly surprises by starting early to save for your child’s education. This is the Planning And Preparing For phase of paying for college. Create a budget for your student to provide them a spending plan. This may actually lower the amount of money they spend. Apply for financial aid, merit-based aid, and private scholarships to help cover tuition and fees. The money that you have saved to help pay for college could now be used on these hidden expenses. This is the How To Pay For phase of paying for college.