Hacks For Students

Hidden Costs of Being a Student and How You Can Prepare

By: Melanie Bacallao
Nov 22, 2021 • 3 min read

Hidden Costs of Being a Student – How You Can Prepare

It’s no surprise that being a student can be costly — but how costly? Besides tuition, what other things can a student be responsible for? Hint: It’s more than you think.

Universities have a unique cost of attendance. Supplies, dorms, fees, and other costs plus tuition are all considered for a university’s COA. Your financial aid is determined by how much you’re able to afford it. But what about the things that not even financial aid would cover?

hidden costs

1. Transportation

If you attend a university in person, you’ll likely have your own vehicle. Even if you don’t own a car, another driver would be transporting you. And most of the time, it’s not free. Full-time college students spend over $1,700 per year on transportation and travel. In some states, it’s possible that you can get free rides if you meet certain criteria.

When budgeting for transportation, consider the amount of money you’d pay for gas annually. Compare the costs of taking a bus or a train over your own car. Then, choose the right option for you.

2. Parking

It’s estimated that 87% of college students don’t live on campus. Therefore, you may need to pay for a parking permit. The cost of a parking permit can vary from university — some only charge a one-time fee, others require payment per semester. Permits can range from a couple of dollars to literally hundreds per semester. This can easily stack up to $1,000 in total over four years or less.

If you’d like free parking, there could be areas near your university that support that. That means you would need to walk more than usual. You would need to adjust your sleeping schedule to factor in the walking distance.

hidden costs

3. Holidays & Break Hidden Costs

During a time where one can expect to unwind, college students may need to pay any upfront costs if they want to relax. Visiting parents, especially if you’re out of state, can plunge your expenses. You need to consider the costs of hotels, rents, parties, food, gas, plane tickets, and more. It’s not unusual for college students to travel during winter, spring, or summer break. But you do need to budget accordingly.

If necessary, you can always consider catching up with relatives or friends through remote methods. This could mean texting, video calling, or playing games with online services. Only plan trips if you really need to. If you’re looking to take a break, you can always check what events are happening locally.

4. Greek Life

If you plan on joining sororities or fraternities, be prepared to pay some hefty expenses. For those who don’t know, sororities are female-only groups, while fraternities are male-only. That is their one and only difference. Greek life allows you to participate in social events and learn valuable skills that can be listed on a resume. These Greek organizations cost more at higher-end universities than smaller colleges but expect to pay hundreds or thousands per semester.

First, contact your college campus to see if there are even Greek life organizations to join. If there is, ask how much are the fees. To pay for this expense, it’s recommended to use internship or part-time money. You can also look for scholarships or ask for a payment plan.

College life is expensive, and not many people talk about the hidden costs of being a student. There’s more to college expenses than just tuition and books. We hope that you feel more prepared for the upcoming year!

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