A Guide to Calculating College Costs

Planning & Saving
on October 30, 2013

From tuition costs to paying for room and board, college expenses sometimes seem to be endless. In order to make saving and paying for college a little less stressful, there are things that students and their families can do. One of the most helpful things they can do is to calculate college expenses, because in doing so it makes creating a college budget, starting an educational savings account, taking out school loans, and more much easier.

Below are some excellent tips to follow when it comes to calculating college costs:

1. Grab a pencil and paper. It is important to start out the process of calculating college costs by first making out a list of any and all anticipated expenses. Since college tuition is most times the most expensive expense, put this one at the top of the list. A student can get a rough estimate as to how much his or her tuition will cost by calling the college they intend on attending and asking for current tuition rates.

2. Identify room and board expenses. Most colleges do not include room and board expenses within their tuition rates. So, while contacting colleges for tuition costs, it is also important to ask them for room and board costs as well. If a student is not intending to live on campus, he or she can call around for local rental rates at apartment complexes. This is will enable a rough estimate to be made as to how much living either on or off campus will cost a student.

3. Identify food expenses. In addition to calculating tuition and room and board expenses, students must not forget about food expenses. Since most campuses offer some type of meal program for students, this will many times be the most cost-efficient way to pay for the food that a student eats. If a student does not take part in a meal program, it is usually safe to estimate the student’s food expenses somewhere between $250 and $400 a month.

4. Prepare for textbook costs. Another important educational expense that is usually not included within tuition costs are textbook expenses. For most students, the average costs of textbooks will be anywhere from $500 to $1000 per semester.

5. Consider furniture and bedding expenses. Most students will need to purchase for themselves bedding, TV, dishes, rugs, and more. If a student is staying in a dorm, he or she may not be have to be out for actual furniture costs. However, those students staying in an apartment or rented home will probably have to buy a bed, couches, curtains, and more.

6. Total your expenses. Once all expenses have been accounted for, both obvious ones and miscellaneous ones, they need to be added up; this will create a subtotal.

7. Subtract scholarships and grants. From the subtotal, a student can subtract the amount of scholarships and grants that he or she is expected to receive.

8. Account for inflation. Since educational expenses tend to increase due to inflation, it is important to multiply each year’s expenses by the amount of inflation that is expected to occur.

9. Add everything together. After each year’s totals have been calculated, two years for an associate’s degree or four years for a bachelor’s degree, each year’s total needs to be added with one another. Once all numbers are added, this will provide a student with a rough estimate as to how much their entire college costs will be.

Now that you’re prepared to calculate the costs involved in affording college, here are some options to consider for off-setting that cost.

How to Obtain a Scholarship

Students can obtain scholarships in many ways. Many students obtain a scholarship by playing well in sports while others earn them through their academic achievements. Another way for students to obtain a scholarship is by applying for them. There are numerous organizations that allow students to compete for scholarships by turning in essays. When writing essays, it is important for students to be concise and use refined language.

How to Obtain a Student Loan

In the United States, students can apply for federal student loans through the FAFSA organization. Some loans are based on income while others are not. Almost all students qualify for some type of loan. Other student loans can be obtained through financial institutions such as banks, however, these types of loans are usually accompanied with high interest rates whereas federal loans are not.

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