5 Unexpected College Costs to Add to Your Budget

Going into college, you likely had a picture painted in your head about what it would be like. You’re prepared for the general cost of college: tuition, rent, food, textbooks, clothes, and entertainment. However, many new students don’t realize the importance of investing in internship or networking attire, or membership fees for student organizations, like Greek life.

These are common and valuable activities for college-bound students, but you’ll need to make room in your budget. Here are some surprise expenses you might face as a part of the college experience.  

Photo by Elliot Reyna

Photo by Elliot Reyna

1. Internship attire

The whole “dress to impress” catchphrase may seem cheesy, but your decision to bring out a blazer and iron out your button-down shirt may help you snag the job of your dreams. However, most students out of high school don’t really have a packed wardrobe full of suits or pencil skirts. Have no fear, here are a few cost-friendly options to beef up your business attire:

  • Find free, professional clothing at your school’s career services office (depending on your school) 

  • Join your college’s “buy and sell” Facebook group 

  • Go thrift shopping

2.  Greek life fees

Year after year, thousands of students enter college excited to join greek life. Whether it’s to build alumni connections or easily become a part of an active social circle, being a member of Greek organizations comes at a cost.

Members are expected to pay upwards of thousands of dollars every semester, whether it's for housing, room and board charges, social fees, new member dues, etc. Unfortunately, many houses aren’t transparent about their fees until after the recruiting process leaving students and their families caught off guard. 

Make sure to check your school’s Greek life website as it provides updated fee schedules before recruitment begins. To help manage the cost, you can also explore an interest-free payment plan through the organization, and don’t be afraid to inquire about any chapter scholarships. 

3.  Off-campus housing

Living in a dorm room isn’t for everyone. Many people decide to gather a group together to live off-campus. It might be your first time dealing with a lease, and in the excitement, you quickly sign it without thoroughly reading the terms and conditions.

There are surprise costs to renting your own place. For example, some landlords and property management companies charge a $300 to $500 subletting fee. Even something as common as losing your key might cost about $100 to $150 for a replacement. Want to move in early or move out later? That'll cost you, too! 

Take the time to read your lease and plan accordingly.

4. Administrative fees 

There are many different types of miscellaneous fees that you are hit with as a student. They may sound trivial at first, but the costs add up, quickly. 

Here are a few annoying fees to look out for:

  • Dropping classes. In your first few years of college, it’s very common to drop a few classes. However, be wary of your school's policies about missing drop deadlines as you might have to pay a fee for a late withdrawal. 

  • Requesting transcripts. Many employers require access to your official transcript. Universities charge you a processing fee for this request which comes out of your own pocket. 

  • Changing your major. Switching your major or adding a minor? Your tuition will more than likely increase if you have to take additional classes to meet the curriculum’s requirements. 

  • Replacing your Student I.D. Lost your student I.D? Expect a charge for that. 

  • Attending freshman orientation. Keep in mind that those freshman orientation costs are in addition to your standard tuition and cost of college.

5. Sports games

Being with friends at a college sports game, surrounded by thousands of students who are decked school colors, is a magical feeling. Unfortunately, being a student and already paying thousands of dollars per semester doesn’t mean that participating in school-spirit events are free. 

Universities across the country, especially those with strong athletics departments, sometimes charge students up to $250 for season home game tickets. Although season ticket packages for students are pricey, the resale value might make it worthwhile. If your school’s ticketing policy allows ticket transfers, you might be able to sell your tickets for games you don’t plan on attending, like during holiday break. Again, student pricing for sports games varies depending on the university. 

Want to get #financiallyfit before heading off to college? Set-up a free 20-minute consult call with a member of our team!