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Paying for College

Are you ready for these extra college costs?

If you have a college bill due this summer, you may have already taken action to pay the bill in full. But it’s never that simple, and your child will likely have additional expenses when he or she heads to campus this fall. It’s important to be aware of these upcoming costs, and for your son or daughter to have money on hand.

Here are 8 of the most common non-billed charges incurred by college students. Review the list to get your family ready for some potential extra costs.

  1. Books. This one’s expected, as practically every college student spends some significant dollars on textbooks for class. Book costs vary based on college and major, and some can run as high as $300, but the National Association of College Stores estimates that the average college student spends about $700 a year on textbooks.

  2. Supplies. Even in the age of technology, notebooks, pens, highlighters, and numerous other school supplies are still used by students at college. And in most cases, purchasing these items at an off-campus discount store will save money.

  3. Laptop. Many schools require a laptop these days, so do your research before classes begin. Some colleges allow you to charge computer equipment directly to your student’s account, but others don’t, so be prepared based on the school’s policy.

  4. Course Expenses. Yes you’re already paying tuition, but classes can require additional purchases. Journalism and political science classes, for example, often require newspaper subscriptions, and students in a mathematical field may be asked to buy special software, such as MATLAB.

  5. Food. Whether or not you’re paying for a meal plan, your child will likely need money on hand to pay for late night pizza orders, off-campus lunches or dinners, and the occasional (or frequent) early morning coffee.

  6. Commuter Pass. If your son or daughter attends college in a city, he or she may need some type of bus or subway pass to get around. Most transportation systems offer student discounts, so check the website for details.

  7. Club Fees. Intramural sports, arts groups, sororities/fraternities, and other student organizations often require an annual fee to help offset costs and pay for group events. Prepare for fees ranging from small figures into the hundreds of dollars, depending on the activity and level of involvement.

  8. Travel. If your child plans to take a spring break trip or study abroad for a semester, travel expenses are guaranteed. Try to get an idea of your student’s plans for the year before he or she begins the fall semester.

Though extra college costs are inevitable, your child can make smart money choices to spend as little as possible during the college years.

On our upcoming Twitter Chat on Tuesday, August 9th at 2pm, we'll share plenty of valuable tips to help students understand how to thrive on campus without breaking the bank. If you’re not following us on Twitter yet, find us @mefatweets. We’d love to hear from you during the chat about other college costs that are coming up for you and how you're figuring out how to pay. Use the hashtag #collegesuccess to join the conversation.

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