When you think of college expenses, what comes to mind? It’s probably tuition, books, housing, and food. Those are the big four, and college students are always looking for ways to do them more cheaply.
But what about the rest? Even if you’ve covered the basics, you can find yourself spending hundreds of dollars a semester on miscellaneous expenses that are just part of college life.
When preparing for college, it’s important to prepare for these expenses as well. Consider setting a budget, or at least setting aside money. Find creative ways to save money on some of them and be ready for the rest.
The problem with these little expenses is that they’re so much a part of everyday life that you can forget what they are. So here are 9 expenses you’re likely to encounter during the course of a semester:
- Printing. Check whether or not your college charges for printing. Some will give you $X in printing credits, but you have to pay if you go over.
- Copying. These vary wildly depending on what class you’re in. I took one class which had me photocopying things every week, sometimes I had to photocopy things for my student organization. Other semesters I barely touched the copiers.
- Laundry. Laundry isn’t free. And while you can fudge around it a bit by taking things home to wash on break (unless you have to fly), you’ll need to do laundry on a regular basis, at least once every two or three weeks. More colleges are accepting laundry payments via student ID card, so you don’t have to worry about quarters, but they often cost the same as at a laundromat. You can expect to pay from $1.25 to $2.00 for one cycle (wash or dry).
- Library Fines. While college libraries often have more liberal policies than public ones, most have higher fines too. If you return your books on time, that’s great–until you’re 1 day overdue and have to shell out $15.
- Parking Passes. If you have a car and plan to park it on campus, you’ll probably have to shell out a couple hundred bucks for the parking pass. If you’ll be parking in a city instead, you should check their parking requirements, because you don’t want to get:
- Parking Tickets. Campus security are notorious for ticketing improperly-parked vehicles. Some people go through college without ever getting one, others collect them like stamps. Even if you’re in the first group, it’s safest to budget for 1 parking ticket a semester for those exceptions to the rule.
- Public Transit Passes. If you don’t have a car (or do but don’t always drive it) and are in an area that has good public transportation, it may be worthwhile investing in a pass. DC, for example, has the SmarTrip card, which costs $5 initially and can be refilled indefinitely. Other places sell one-time passes or monthly passes.
- Entertainment. There’s a lot of great stuff you get for cheap or free as a college student. Remember to budget so you can catch your friends in a play or orchestra concert, see the band/artist your college brought for a major concert, etc. Don’t let these great times pass you by, you may never get the chance to do so much so cheaply.
- Student organizations and Greek life. If you plan to join a student organization or a fraternity/sorority, scope out the costs ahead of time and be sure to budget appropriately. Costs vary widely by interests. The activism/awareness organization that I headed for a year cost me far less than my sister’s outdoors club presidency cost her (equipment, travel, etc). Some organizations can get an approved campus budget, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be paying gas money or for your own equipment.
How much you’ll need to spend on them fits your situation. This list may even remind you of something else that you need to prepare for in the coming college year.
For those starting and continuing college this fall, good luck!
What nickel-and-dimed you during college? How did you cope or find ways to save?