Capital onevoice college prep budgeting for unexpected college costs gas natural inc

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Your child’s college education will probably come with a high price tag. In addition to tuition and boarding, expenses for things like books, lab fees, furnishings and social activities can quickly add up. So, it’s important to prep early for college spending and think about places where you can save.

The annual average cost of books and supplies for an undergraduate college student ranges from $1,220 to 1,420, according to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing report. The cost can get high, but there are ways to avoid paying the premium price.

If your child isn’t the type to highlight or dog ear books, they’ll have more options. The Penny Hoarder® estimates you can save more than 80 percent on the cost of books by renting instead of buying. Keep in mind, your kids will need to keep rental books in excellent condition or pay extra fees when returning them. Sometimes students can earn money by selling books back to a bookstore at the end of the term—typically the better condition they’re in, the higher the price.

According to a 2016 New York Times® article, college fees have risen 30 percent more than tuition since 1999, bringing the average annual total at a four-year public college to $1,700. So, it’ll be a bitter pill to swallow if you haven’t budgeted for fees and have to pay for them on the fly.

The same article warns that some schools allow you to use financial aid to cover mandatory fees, but may not allow you to use it to cover course fees. Similarly, scholarships sometimes only cover tuition, not fees. If that’s the case, you may be able to petition the financial aid office to cover fees before your student registers.

Knowing what you’ll be charged can help you determine where you can cut back. For instance, a college may not assess a course change fee if you drop within the first two days of class. Or it might make more sense to pay for a bus pass rather than a parking pass.

College students spend an average of $229 on electronics in a year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF®). Factored into that cost are a handful of electronics students will likely need, including a phone, computer and calculator. Then there are a host of gadgets that are “wants”—tablets, video game consoles, digital medial players, Bluetooth® headphones, and more.

Greek life can cost up to $3,000 per semester depending on the chapter and campus, according to U.S. News & World Report®. In addition to membership fees, there may be costs for the sorority or fraternity pin, Greek letter memorabilia, gifts for younger siblings and attire for formal and rush events.

On average, the annual cost for transportation for an undergraduate college student ranges from $1,700 to $2,410, according to the College Board. And while the education is priceless, The Washington Post suggests adding $10,000 to your travel budget if your child studies overseas.

Dorms typically have basic furniture like a bed and desk, but students will need toiletries, towels, bedding and a laundry bag at a minimum. Don’t forget to add the cost to do laundry to your list of expenses. Doing your wash with dorm machines or at laundromats typically costs $1.50 and washing a few times a week can add up to hundreds of dollars per semester.

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