Four unexpected costs of college and how to beat them

Parking Permit

A parking permit is one of the many college expenses some people forget about. Image: Flickr / edinburghgreens / CC-BY-SA

College is expensive, no matter how you slice it. Even if your basic expenses are covered by financial aid, there are additional expenses that need to be planned for carefully.

Living in a new place

While the cost of rent or housing may be worked into your cost-of-college calculations, the cost of living in a new place can be higher. Furniture, appliances, a deposit, building up your food stocks and all of the other costs that come with living in a new place can be a budget stretcher.

How to beat it: Give yourself some breathing room with your budget. Plan ahead for a few months. Start looking for secondhand furniture and appliances, and start looking for upperclassmen who are moving out and want to get rid of their gear.

Eating differently

The time it takes to attend classes means your eating habits may very well be changing. Plan ahead for the fact that going to college will mean you will have to eat differently for a while. It could mean you will eat out a bit more often, or you could purchase a meal plan through the school.

How to beat it: Start bringing meals with you from day one, or roll the cost of meal plans or meal dollars into your financial aid calculations.


If you are commuting to classes, your car will experience a lot more wear and tear. If you are living on campus, then you will be walking and biking and using public transit much more often. Either way, you will need to find a place to park your ride, and campus parking passes vary in price from $50 all the way up to $1,000 per semester.

How to beat it: Consider getting rid of your car if at all possible; parking it and driving it more will be very expensive. If going without your car is not an option, explore public transport options in your city.

[Installment loans for bad credit can be used to meet immediate expenses, but you should always budget in some room for college expenses.]

Getting involved

Everything from class fees to internships and experiential learning end up costing money. The supplies you will need for your classes can be expensive. Some internships, professional speaking classes or competitions may also require you to wear professional clothes or have specialized equipment that may be expensive.

How to beat it: Keep an eye open at thrift stores or secondhand stores for suits and professional clothing that will look right for a variety of applications.


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