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Planning for College Expenses

Planning for college expenses is difficult. However, by setting limits and planning ahead you’ll have a much better chance of establishing an accurate financial picture.

  • Net price calculators – Many colleges and universities have a net price calculator on their website. The calculator allows prospective students to enter information about themselves to find out what students in similar situations paid to attend the institution in the previous year, after taking grants and scholarship aid into account.
  • Remember upfront costs – Don’t forget that it costs money to apply, register and travel to visit various schools. Airfare, hotels, meals, and gas can all add up fast. Planning for these upfront costs could save you from a last minute financial burden.
  • Books and program fees – The cost will vary depending on the course. The big, heavy, hardcover science and math books tend to be the most expensive. In addition, many programs charge extra fees for labs and equipment. You can check with the school in advance to find out the costs.
  • Technology – These days, most students need an up-to-date computer and printer, and some courses require specific software. Computer labs are usually available for students, but you may want to look into the hours and limitations.
  • Living extras – Laundry is often coin operated and parking often costs extra money. If your child drives a car to college, you will need to continue paying insurance and calculating gas, insurance and parking into the budget. Luckily, most large or spread-out universities and colleges have their own transit system and it’s often free.

As a side note … keep in mind most financial advisors recommend that parents shouldn’t neglect their own needs while planning for their children’s. Financial goals such as retirement shouldn’t be disregarded.

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