15 Most Unexpected Expenses for College Students

Congratulations! You just graduated from high school and are ready to take the next step by attending college. Hopefully, you have everything planned out, including a way to pay for all those hidden fees your counselor probably never warned you about.

There’s more financial responsibility to college than just paying for tuition. In fact, there are actually a number of expenses you might have never thought of. This list will help you budget for costs you never considered.

1. Books and School Supplies

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

It might be a shock for first-year college students to learn that books are not included in their tuition and they’re not cheap. According to a study by CollegeBoard, an average student at a four-year institution spent about $460 on course materials and $780 for other supplies. That’s a lot of money that many students heading into their first year don’t consider.

Keep those books as pristine as possible. At the end of the semester, you will sell them and get back as much as you can.

2. Room and Board

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Many naive teenagers are led to believe that living on campus is part of their tuition fees, but it’s an entirely separate expense. Whether you’re living in a college dorm with a meal plan at the cafeteria or off-campus, you’re on your own when it comes to paying rent.

Room and board at public colleges cost about $6,500 annually, while living off campus will cost much more. Hopefully, you’re comfortable living with roommates in a shared space because that might be all you can afford at this point in your life.

3. Off-Campus Bills

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you choose to live off-campus, it’s crucial to be prepared for the additional bills that come with it. Rent only covers your living space and possibly water usage. You’ll also need to budget for electricity, internet, cable, and renter’s insurance.

Most apartments require a 12-month lease, so if you plan on going home for holidays or breaks, you’ll still pay rent even though you won’t be living there.

4. Transportation Costs

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Another hidden cost of living off campus is how you’ll get to and from school. Many 18-year-olds don’t own cars, so they may have to take the bus, walk, or ride a bike. Flying home for holidays is also costly if you don’t attend a university within driving distance.

Depending on your financial situation, you might have to stay at school during breaks. If your parents can’t afford plane tickets, you might be paying for those tickets yourself.

5. Club Fees

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One of the best parts about college is the social life. Meeting friends and joining clubs can create bonds that last for life. It’s all part of the college experience.

However, these clubs can cost money to join or participate in their activities. Individual payments usually include the club’s need for equipment and travel, so they rely on your financial commitment. Factor this into your yearly budget if you plan to join some local clubs or after-class activities.

6. Greek Life Fees

Purdue University, Alpha Eta
image Credit: Huw Williams/Wiki Commons.

Joining a fraternity or a sorority can be one of the best experiences of a young person’s life. That camaraderie can help shape and mold young people’s minds and create friendships. It can also be the most fun you’ve ever had.

Greek life comes with a cost, though. It costs from $600 to $6,000 per semester, and the higher price is if you live in the organization’s house. That money doesn’t include social events or pledge fees. These may be the best years of your life, but they come with a price tag.

7. Groceries Beyond Your Meal Plan

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Having a set meal plan can help first-year students focus on their studies without worrying about what they will eat that day. But there is also something to be said about going out with your friends and enjoying a night at a restaurant.

Even the most disciplined individuals will get sick of the basic cafeteria food. Budgeting for some nights out or ordering some takeout is important to avoid meal boredom.

8. Parking

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Parking was my biggest pet peeve when I was a college student. I couldn’t understand how an institution that cost so much money would charge me even more money for simply parking my car in their lot.

A university-issued parking permit can cost you as much as $400 per year, and if you have a car and intend to park it on campus, you have to budget for this extra expense.

9. Health Insurance

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Many universities these days require their students to have health insurance unless they’re still covered by their parents’ insurance. On average, a plan costs about $2,900 per year, and this price can vary depending on where you attend college.

Although it’s costly, you want to have insurance in the rare case you need it.

10. Laundry

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Unless you plan on going home every weekend to do laundry at your parents’ house, you’ll have to use the dorm laundry or a laundromat, which will cost you each time. A wash and dry might be as little as $5, but think about how often you need to wash your clothes.

You don’t want to be the stinky person on your dorm floor, so make sure you budget for quality detergent and fabric softener.

11. New Clothes

Clothes hanging from a rod
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The cost of a new wardrobe can be very high, and one for a college student can be even higher. When attending college, you will find times when you need to dress nicer than you used to. This may include presentations, club functions, and, of course, internship and job interviews. Formal wear can be pricey.

Make sure you save enough for a couple of professional outfits to make you stand out from a hundred other students.

12. Student Loan Interest Rates

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Student loans are a reasonable option for those trying to get a college degree without scholarships or financial aid. They let you study and graduate, and leave you a grace period between finishing school and starting payments. Sounds great, right?

The downside is that interest is capitalized while you’re still in school. This means the interest on that loan might cost you thousands of dollars in accrued interest. You’re not alone. Many professionals are in their late thirties before they pay off their student loans.

13. Unexpected Expenses

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

As with any time in life, surprise expenses can put us behind. Whether it’s car problems, medical issues, or any other random curve ball life throws at you, it’s necessary to have a backup plan for these costs.

If not, this might be your first valuable lesson about saving money and building an emergency fund.

14. Dating

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

College is an exciting time. You are out on your own, and you are meeting new people, and sooner than later, sparks could fly. There might come a day when you’ll take someone special out on a date. Dating can be expensive, though. Movies, snacks, and dinner can cost more than $100. 

If you plan on dating in college, you’ll keep that in mind when setting your monthly budget. 

15. Decorations

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One of the things you might be looking forward to is decorating your new apartment or dorm room. You finally have a place of your own, away from your parents. It’s time to make that space unique to you. 

However, home goods don’t come cheap. You could spend a decent amount of money on furniture, storage solutions, bedding, and kitchenware, even in big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target. Hopefully, you have a roommate who can help you split that bill.

Read More From Us – 17 Movies With Zero Expectations That Blew Us Away

The Fugutive
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


Never judge a book by its cover. You can say the same about movies.

Some of our favorite films are the ones we went into with no expectations. Despite this, they blew us away from start to finish.

17 Movies With Zero Expectations That Blew Us Away

Read More From Us – Classic 80s Movies Better Than Anything Released Today

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The 80s was an incredible time for film. From award-winning cinema to hilarious comedies and everything in between, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Thankfully, many of these 80s movies still hold up today. I regularly find myself watching these beloved 80s movies more often than modern cinema.

Classic 80s Movies Better Than Anything Released Today

+ posts