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5 College Costs That Will Surprise You

College is one of the most memorable and exciting times of life. At the same time, it’s also one of the most expensive. There’s tuition to pay and a whole host of extra costs and fees that tend to sneak up on unsuspecting students. So, to help you prepare for the upcoming semester and get the most out of your education, here are 5 surprising college costs to look out for.

1. Books and Fees

You probably already planned to buy books. But depending on your major, you could be in for a surprise. Especially in the technical fields, books can be pricey. Then there are lab and supply fees, which are especially common for science and art classes. Surprise college costs also come in the form of out-of-class requirements such as an international experience and field work. In the end, these costs are well worth the price of admission, as they all contribute to your learning in and out of the classroom. Just be prepared to set aside a little extra cash.

2. Campus Life

Being involved in campus life is a big part of the college experience. But it isn’t free. And it often isn’t included in college cost estimates. As you get ready for college, set aside some money for club fees, uniforms, intramurals, activity fees, and sports passes. And if you’re going to have a car, don’t forget about a parking pass. Of course, fraternities and sororities have dues and other shared expenses. Before beginning a new semester, consider reviewing a few money tips to save some extra cash and avoid some of the more common (and expensive) student mistakes.

3. Apartment Life

Even if you’re living in a furnished dorm, you should be prepared to put down a little money to make your new abode feel a little more like home. In other words, plan to buy bedding, storage, and décor for your side of the room. For an unfurnished apartment, you may have to spend a little extra on a futon and other essential college apartment furniture. Finally, don’t forget to account for the little things (shampoo, cleaning supplies, lightbulbs), none of which are terribly expensive, but buying them all at once can add up.

4. Food

Yes, you’ve always had to eat to stay alive. But whether it’s the constant on-the-go eating or the frequent outings with friends, food costs can get a little pricier during college. Yes, you’ll eat your fair share of ramen noodles and mac and cheese. But be prepared to spend more money (and eat healthier) just in case you grow tired of making meals that come from a can or Styrofoam cup.

5. Travel

If campus is far enough from home base, be sure to add travel expenses to your college costs. If you plan to travel during the holidays, look for tickets early enough that you can find good fares. If you’re lucky enough to have a car during college, in addition to the costs of insurance and gas, plan on spending a little extra for the occasional trip home or spontaneous road trip with friends.

College doesn’t come cheap. But being ready for all the expenses that are coming your way can help you plan out your purchases and soften some of the financial sting of the most expensive (and most memorable) years of a life.

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