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What are Common College Expenses?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Tuition is the largest of the college expenses one will pay to attend college, but other expenses exist that can add up quickly. Freshmen are often required to live in dormitories, which means bedding, organizers, and other common dorm room furniture and accessories may need to be purchased. Aside from tuition, books for classes are perhaps the biggest of the out-of-pocket college expenses a student or parent will have to pay. Textbooks can be quite expensive, and students will need to purchase new or used ones every semester for different classes.

Outfitting a dorm room to be comfortable and functional does not necessarily have to be one of the more significant college expenses, but the purchase of everyday items that make life more comfortable can certainly add up. Towels, bed sheets, blankets, closet organizers, and even personal hygiene products may need to be purchased to make the dorm a comfortable space. In this case, setting a budget for dorm accessories may be in order to keep purchases reasonable and within budget.

A big chunk of money dedicated to college expenses will go to textbooks. Most colleges and universities sell new textbooks at the bookstore, but used copies can also be purchased for less money either at the bookstore or around town. Setting a budget for books may not always be feasible, since they are necessary for coursework regardless of price, but it is wise to shop around for used textbooks to keep the costs low each semester. Some colleges and universities also offer book scholarships, so students should consider seeking out such scholarships to supplement their book budgets.

Some college expenses will fall under the category of entertainment. Going out to eat, seeing movies, or just wandering through a college town can mean big expenses. A college student needs to draw out an entertainment budget to avoid overspending, especially if entertainment costs will cut into more important costs such as groceries, books, or other school supplies. Students should remember that a mismanaged budget can lead to debt, which can lead to the accrual of interest from high credit card interest rates. Students should generally avoid credit cards if at all possible, as college students are very susceptible to running up high balances that can haunt them for months or even years.

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On May 20, 2011

I would list groceries, eating out, gas and car insurance and cell phone bill as my major college expenses.

I'm not living in the dorms. I share an apartment with three other girls. Since I don't have a dining plan, I have to buy groceries and cook at home or eat out. Eating at home is cheaper, but sometimes I am lazy and eat out too much and that is expensive.

I also have a car, so obviously gas and insurance is an expense. Cell phone bill is another. I don't know what I would do if my parents didn't help out.

By serenesurface — On May 17, 2011

College textbooks can be so expensive! I remember paying close to two hundred bucks for one of my engineering books. That's actually rare because most professors are more understanding and will not require such expensive books.

One thing you can do is to first check the college library to see if the book you need is there. If you can check it out from the library, that's great. The next option is running to the bookstore to get a used copy before it runs out. If there are no used ones, you can either look online to get a cheaper copy or give in and pay the full price at the bookstore.

Even if you have to pay full price, don't worry. You can probably sell it back to the bookstore at the end of the semester and get some of the money back.

By ddljohn — On May 15, 2011

The biggest expenses for my dorm room were my television, mini fridge and water heater. These are a must or you will not be able to have a snack in the dorm, watch TV or even have a cup of tea.

Most dorms do have a common room though. It generally has a microwave, so you probably don't need to buy one. If there is a TV and you don't mind watching with other people, you won't have to buy that either.

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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