I'm a pretty good planner, and as I headed into college, I had a reasonable expectation of what costs would be while I was there. However, even having an understanding of what cost estimates for things like room and board, tuition, and books were, there were still some unexpected expenses that reared their ugly heads.
While such costs weren't enough to break the bank, they did add to the overall expenses of my college education and caught me somewhat by surprise. And over time, these costs added up.
Furnishing a Dorm Room
Before I learned to Dumpster Dive and scavenge from graduates' leftovers, I found the costs of furnishing a dorm room adding up. With things like a computer, toiletries, food, appliances, bed deposit (yes, there was a deposit on the dorm bed), phone, etc., there are all sorts of items that literally added hundreds or even thousands to the costs of attending school.
Thankfully, I got in contact with my roommate before arriving to school and we came up with a plan to share the purchase of certain items. I found that this strategy continued to work well as I moved forward in my college career, taking on new roommates with whom to expense share along the way.
The costs related to social activities don't have to be related to nights out on the town. There may be social organizations that can have fees or membership dues. There may be things like pledge, social, or membership fees for a fraternity or sorority, sports fees for intramural sports, and similar costs for various collegiate activities.
Sometimes such fees can be reduced if paid far enough in advance. Otherwise, sometimes related fees for such events might be reduced or counteracted by holding offices or positions within the organization or activity that's being participated in.
Once you're on campus, you might be figuring there won't be any transportation costs, right? Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but depending upon the school, some campuses can be big places to navigate. And if you're living off campus, it can put some pretty good distance between you and your classes.
Bus fees, parking costs, vehicle maintenance expenses, and related transportation costs can add up. When at school, I looked for living locations that were close to campus and still allowed me to walk to work, which while taking longer than driving, at least made for great exercise and saved money. I also purchased a bus pass when living off campus, which was significantly more affordable than maintaining a vehicle.
College costs can kind of be like an earthquake, even after the big rumble of costs have passed and we're out in the real world, there are those little aftershock tremors that come in waves in the form of student loan payments and interest.
Thankfully, I graduated with under $10,000 in student loans, and I worked at paying them off as quickly as possible after graduation -- even taking an interest-free loan from a family member -- to pay them off in less in a year to minimize the interest I owed over time.
In these ways, while I wasn't able to negate all the secret costs of college, I was at least able to mitigate their impact upon my personal finances.
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The author is not a licensed financial or educational professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.
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