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College Planning

3 Easy-to-Forget College Costs

If you have kids that are heading to college for the start of a new school year, you probably already know it isn’t going to be cheap. Hopefully you’ve already planned for the big, obvious expenses like tuition, books and housing.

While you’re focused on those main expenses, don’t forget about some other small off-the-radar costs that can add up quickly. Here are three examples:

1. Gas: If your kid is taking a car to school, make sure you have a good idea of their gas budget. Will they be driving it often or just on weekends? Once you can get a decent idea of how much they’ll use the car, you’ll be ready to make out a monthly gas budget. Remember, it might take you a few months to get it right, so be patient.

2. Transportation: If your kid doesn’t have a car, then gas won’t be a problem—but transportation will. Will they be coming home for Thanksgiving? Christmas? Every other weekend? Don’t let a $50 filled-up gas tank catch you off guard. Make a plan with your student and prepare for those trips in the budget.

3. Food: You already know about the meal plan, but what about late-night snacks in the dorm or the occasional dinner out with friends? Food expenses add up quickly. If your kid is on the meal plan, you might want to add a little extra to the food budget to allow for some of these “unexpected” costs.

Tip: Your college student can create a free budget in less than ten minutes with EveryDollar!

Don’t let gas, transportation or food costs sneak up on you. Also, be sure to look for other expenses that sneak up on you once your kid is away at college and into the daily routine.

Related: 3 Things Every College Student Should Know

Plan for the unexpected as much as you can, and your budget will be thankful!




  • TirzahMarie Lewis

    I told friends that my two kids (now 2 and 1) have two choices for school… State College or any college in the surrounding states that offer reciprocity… that’s it. They looked at me like I’d condemned my kids to a life of destitution and unfulfilled dreams. The reasons you mentioned above are EXACTLY why my hubby and I decided on that path. Plus (honestly) I do job fairs at high schools and some kids are terrified of all the choices to the point that they are paralyzed trying to figure out their next step because they think it will literally make or break their entire life. I’d rather my kids know their options and us honor the budget so we can help them as much as possible and help them understand they can be successful anywhere… it’s up to them if they make it not their alma mater.

  • Candb Mcfamily

    Everyone needs to check their state treasures office to find out if they have “prepaid tuition” in their state. I live in NV and we have the prepaid tuition program. This program LOCKS today’s tuition rate for NV Colleges and Universities. Our daughter is 8-years-old and we pay a little over $100.00 per month for this program. She will get 60 credits Community College in Nevada and 60 credits at UNLV or UNR (enough credits for a B.A.). Also, because current college tuition rates are rising higher than college investment rates, this option gives your a secure answer for affording college. If she decides not to go to college the money can be returned to us with only 100.00 given back to the state. If she goes out of state, she will get the full amount put in the fund, BUT not locked in prices for out of state tuition. We hope she takes advantage of a paid for debt-free college education….