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College Expense Checklist

You may be forgetting some stuff.

Almost no one remembers to plan for a doctor co-pay or weekend snowboarding trip. Luckily, we've already done that for you below.

COSTS THAT GET YOU IN THE DOOR
COSTS OF COLLEGE LIVING
ALL THE OTHER STUFF
Something to remember...
Applicability of expenses below will depend on the university, a student's year in college and the unique aspects of their lifestyle. The estimated expense amounts listed will also vary considerably across students.

School Payment

Quarterly

One of the first expenses you'll incur is the cost of tuition, room & board, which covers living in the dorms and a meal plan.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Air Travel

Quarterly

If you're going to school far away, you'll need to factor in especially-costly air fare that's often during the holiday season.

Expect to pay:

$500/qtr

Furnishing

One-time

The cost of furnishing varies, depending on whether you're outfitting a dorm or apartment and what you already have.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Utilities

Monthly

Most apartments put you on the hook for bills related to electric, water and gas, which are paid monthly.

Expect to pay:

$60/mo

Home Insurance

Monthly

Many landlords will require renters insurance, which tends to be pretty minimal for covering basic electronics.

Expect to pay:

$5/mo

Drinks & Snacks

Everday

When you're on-the-go, it's easy to forget how often you swing into a quick mart for gum or grab items at a vending machine.

Expect to pay:

$30/mo

Bars

Monthly

This is a tab that can become difficult to manage in the later college years. Get into a habit of dividing the cost with friends.

Expect to pay:

$75/mo

Taxi/Rideshare

Monthly

While it isn't advisable to use cabs as everyday transit, you'll need them for getting to and from night life activities.

Expect to pay:

$50/mo

Car Payment

Monthly

The minority of college students that have a car - and one that's not paid off - need to account for a monthly loan/lease payment.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Plate Stickers

Yearly

Each year, you'll need to update the stickers on your license plate, which can be done online, by mail or at the DMV.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Haircut

Monthly

Budget for a monthly haircut, if that's how often you go now. For women, this cost may be higher, but occur less frequently. 

Expect to pay:

$25/mo

Doctor Visit

Quarterly

Even with insurance, you'll often still owe a co-pay or out-of-pocket cost on doctor's visits, eye exams and trips to the dentist.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Gym / Yoga

Monthly

Most colleges offer free access to gym and workout facilities to students, but classes, trainers and yoga are rarely included.

Expect to pay:

$45/mo

TV Subscription

Monthly

With so many cutting the cord, TV packages now look much more like music subscriptions, just much more expensive.

Expect to pay:

$40/mo

Clothes Shopping

Monthly

New shoes and clothes is a seasonal expense for some, and a regular lifestyle expense for others.

Expect to pay:

$100/mo

Spa/Massage

Quarterly

This is considered a luxury for any college student but, for athletes in particular, it may be a necessary cost each quarter.

Expect to pay:

$150/qtr

Trips/Vacation

Quarterly

The spring break or weekend trip you plan with your friends will require more than just travel expenses. 

Expect to pay:

$200/qtr

Movies / Shows

Quarterly

Like live sporting events, going to the movies or a show may not happen often, but they are an inevitable seasonal cost.

Expect to pay:

$50/qtr

Books & Fees

Quarterly

The cost of books, supplies or required online reading is not covered under tuition.

Expect to pay:

$500/qtr

Train Travel

Quarterly

If you don't have a car, getting to school by Amtrak is a great option, which could also mean cab expenses to get to the train line.

Expect to pay:

$70/qtr

Handyman

Yearly

Unless you have the resources to set up all your stuff on your own, you'll need to hire a handyman to set up the TV, shelves, etc.

Expect to pay:

$100/yr

Internet

Monthly

Like utilities, this cost can be split with roommates and will vary based on location and internet speed.

Expect to pay:

$30/mo

Groceries

Weekly

If you're a freshman, you're probably covered with a meal plan. If not, you'll spend on weekly trips to the grocery store.

Expect to pay:

$200/mo

Coffee

Everyday

For many, this is an everyday expenditure. If that's you, you may consider making the investment in your own machine.

Expect to pay:

$30/mo

Alcohol (Home)

Monthly

This expense could become a greater portion of the food & dining budget as a junior and senior.

Expect to pay:

$30/mo

Gas & Fuel

Monthly

Not all off-campus students need a car for their commute, but those that do need to fill up at least once a month.

Expect to pay:

$50/mo

Service & Parts

Yearly

Even if under warranty, it's inevitable that your car will require some kind of annual servicing, such as an oil change or tune-up.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Laundry

Weekly

Most dorms and campus apartments won't have a washer and dryer in-unit, meaning you'll have to pay for that and dry cleaning.

Expect to pay:

$25/mo

Skin & Beauty

Monthly

You might have several skin, hair or nail products that won't be replenished by mom and dad anymore.

Expect to pay:

$50/mo

Contacts/Glasses

Yearly

Replenishing your contacts and/or getting the right lenses on your glasses is a crucial thing to remember before starting school.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Cell Phone

Monthly

Many students stay on their parents' plan during college. If you aren't, Mint Mobile offers a great low-price plan.

Expect to pay:

$60/mo

Media Subscription

Monthly

For our parents, this expense was probably a newspaper or magazine. Don't forget about your many online subscriptions.

Expect to pay:

$5/mo

Leisure/Hobbies

Quarterly

You'll incur costs related to unique hobbies or greek life activities. These can include: books, equipment and shared event costs.

Expect to pay:

$150/qtr

Events

Quarterly

Events vary in nature and frequency, but some common examples include sports games and concerts.

Expect to pay:

$150/qtr

Hotel/AirBnB

Quarterly

Any trips off campus will require some kind of lodging expense, usually split with friends.

Expect to pay:

$150/qtr

Financial Fees

Quarterly

They're going to happen, so account for them. Everything from an annual credit card fee, to ATM fees to service fees.

Expect to pay:

$25/qtr

Laptop/Software

One-time

You'll need a laptop, electronic accessories and Microsoft Office, which usually comes at a discount through book stores.

Expect to pay:

$1,150

Moving

Yearly

Moving into a dorm can often be handled by family, but moving into an apartment off-campus usually requires a paid crew.

Expect to pay:

$600/yr

Rent

Monthly

Moving off campus means rent for an apartment. This expense will come as room & board while you're in the dorms.

Expect to pay:

$900/mo

Home Supplies

Monthly

Even with roommates, you'll incur regular communal expenses like trash bags, cleaning supplies and kitchen items.

Expect to pay:

$25/mo

Fast Casual

Everyday

When at class or work, you may get in the habit of grabbing lunch at a nearby salad spot, fast food joint or sandwich deli.

Expect to pay:

$120/mo

Dining Out

Monthly

Distinguish this category from fast food and fast casual in the sense that you often cover appetizers, drinks and a tip.

Expect to pay:

$75/mo

Public Transit

Everyday

Subways trains and public bikes / scooters are cheap means of commuting. But, university buses and shuttles are often free.

Expect to pay:

$25/mo

Parking

Monthly

If you have a car, you need to consider the cost of public parking, as well as any additional parking costs at your apartment.

Expect to pay:

$25/mo

Auto Insurance

Monthly

If you plan to drive at all, you'll need auto insurance, which your parents may have initially covered when you got your license.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Hygiene

Monthly

Yes, you need to account for basic hygiene products, such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, razor blades and deodorant.

Expect to pay:

$25/mo

Pharmacy

Monthly

Medical prescriptions are partially subsidized with health insurance, but will still come with some cost at the pharmacy.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Health Insurance

Monthly

If you're not on your parents' insurance, health plans are almost always offered through the school. 

Expect to pay:

Varies

Music Subscription

Monthly

Spotify and Apple Music run about the cost of a meal but, with their monthly renewals, can add up over time.

Expect to pay:

$10/mo

Online Games

Monthly

Videogames and online games or leagues, such as fantasy sports dues, are seasonal expenses that are often overlooked.

Expect to pay:

Varies

Outdoor/Recreation

Quarterly

In reality, the weekend in college brings opportunity to do more than just study: kayaking, parks and skiing, to name a few.

Expect to pay:

$100/qtr

Gifts & Donations

Quarterly

I'm sure you can recall a recent friend or family member's birthday, where you felt compelled to buy a gift.

Expect to pay:

$50/qtr

Rental Car

Quarterly

If you've got many activities planned for your trip, you'll need a rental car. One cost-effective alternative is Turo.

Expect to pay:

$150/qtr

Taxes

Yearly

Many college students won't need to file taxes but, if you're working lots on the side, you should set aside money for this.

Expect to pay:

$75/yr