Room and Board.
A 2016–2017 College Board survey
reported average room and board costs — defined as meals and a place to live — as $10,440 for four-year public schools and $11,890 for private colleges ($5,220 and $5,945, respectively, per semester). Keep in mind “housing can become more expensive as students go through college if they move off-campus,” says Farnoosh Torabi, personal financial expert and host of the podcast “So Money.
” Books and Supplies.
The National Association of College Stores reports
an average of $300 spent on textbooks per semester in the 2015–2016 school year. The College Board estimates $625 per semester for books and supplies at public colleges.
Plus some majors may require more supplies than others. For instance, an architecture student needs drafting materials and may incur lab-use fees. “If students have questions about their program of study and potential additional costs, they should contact the financial aid office,” Draeger says. Transportation
. If a student doesn’t live on campus — or even if she does — she may incur transportation costs, including bus fare, parking fees and gas. The University of California–Berkeley
estimates 2017–2018 student transportation costs at $271 per semester for off-campus commuters and $191 for on-campus residents.
Consider travel costs to and from home as well. Gary Nosacek and Cindy Jones-Nosacek’s fourth child, Theresa, currently attends Georgia State University in Atlanta for an archeology master’s program. She flies from Georgia to Milwaukee twice a year, and her family budgets a little less than $500 per round trip. Technology.
You’ll have upfront costs at the start of college, such as a new laptop. But don’t forget to factor Internet, which room and board may not cover, and cell phone plans. Personal Expenses.
Health insurance, auto insurance, car maintenance, dining out, movies, concerts, clothing, bank fees, laundry, travel abroad and Greek life dues are just a few other expenses for students and their families. Make a list of the things that go beyond billable costs to come up with a reasonable per-semester budget.