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College Costs Beyond Tuition and Books

College Costs Beyond Tuition and Books


Beyond tuition, books, room and board, a student living on campus while attending a four-year public school will still spend about $3,270 on expenses per year, according to a survey by The College Board. Here’s a list of some items to be prepared to budget for.

Dorm Room Decor

Universities and some off-campus apartments provide the basics like a bed, a desk and maybe a dresser or a closet. But most students want to add comforting personal touches to make their room look more like home.

Students spend an average of $126 on furnishings, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a fraction of the almost $900 students spend on amenities to go back to school, including electronics, apparel and personal care items.

Off-Campus Food

Even students with the best meal plans fall victim to the siren of a 3 a.m. pizza. And some decide that on-campus coffee will never beat a Starbucks caramel frap. More than half of college students spend more than $100 per month on restaurants, groceries and drinks, according to a survey by OnCampus Advertising.


Even if you live on campus, transportation costs add up. Uber rides and the maintenance of owning a bike or a car can get out of control. The College Board estimates that students living on campus will spend  $1,160 on transportation during 2016-2017.


Students will face additional costs depending on their interests and hobbies. Activities and clubs sometimes require students to pay fees. Greek life will easily run members several hundred dollars per semester, and can be more than $1,000 at some chapters.


If your school has a football or basketball team and you plan to go to several games a year, if not the whole season, it can be costly. Stocking up on gear with your school’s logo and colors also is pricey, so budget accordingly when looking at the year ahead.

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