7 Things Most College Students Forget to Budget For

You’ve saved enough for tuition, board, and fees. Have you included all college costs in your budget?
Make sure you’ve considered these seven factors as you’re putting the finishing touches on your college funding strategy.


Most likely, you already understood that you would need to purchase textbooks. But if you’re like many college students, you might be caught off guard by the $300 textbook’s price shock.
The good news is that not every one of your books will set you back that much money. In fact, if you can find a secondhand paperback, some might just cost you $5 or so.

Consider renting your books to save some budget. Most colleges provide this as a choice. Even though you’ll be returning the book to the bookstore at the conclusion of the semester, you usually still have the opportunity to make notes in it as needed.

There are further methods you can use to reduce the price of your textbooks. If you can use an earlier edition of a book, for instance, you might be able to save a little money.

Extracurricular activities

Through extracurricular activities, you have a terrific opportunity to meet new people, discover your hobbies, and take a break from your academic work. You can join dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of organizations at many institutions. Additionally, you may be able to form your own organization if your college does not already have one that you would like to join.

However, the majority of student organizations charge dues to their members. Every semester, dues are typically collected at the start. The funds are used for a variety of purposes, such as purchasing t-shirts, reserving conference rooms, and making overall improvements to the company.

Dues might differ substantially. Clubs, societies, and organizations with an academic concentration may charge $10 or $20 for membership each semester.

If you’re considering joining a sorority or fraternity, you should be prepared to pay somewhat higher dues. Dues for various organizations can range from $500 to $1,000 per semester, depending on which one you join. Going Greek might be a fantastic alternative, but bear in mind how it might impact your spending.


Even if you have a meal plan, you might still need to go grocery shopping. You should have at least a few snacks in your room to help you get through the time in between meals.
It goes without saying that the price of your groceries will depend on your living arrangement and how frequently you eat at the dining halls.

Your shopping expenses will probably be rather minimal if you live in a dorm with a compact fridge and don’t have much room for food, maybe between $10 and $20 per week. Cereal, milk, yogurt, granola bars, chips, Easy Mac, Ramen noodles, microwave popcorn, ice cream, and more items may fall under this category.

You should expect to pay more for groceries if you live in an apartment with a complete kitchen and either has a limited meal plan or none at all. If you live in this situation, set aside about $50 each week for groceries. Be aware that if you participate in an athletic program, your grocery budget may increase. Before a practice or game, you should eat to ensure that you’re well-fueled and prepared.

If you share a space with roommates, you might want to discuss paying for some of your meals jointly to reduce costs.

No matter where you live or how you plan to eat, you need to budget for some time to go grocery shopping. If you want something quick and easy for lunch or a nutritious snack, it’s always a good idea to keep a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter in your dorm.

Eating out/ordering in

You won’t want to eat in the dining hall every day, let’s face it. And many colleges have restaurants close by that can be used as quick substitutes for cafeteria food.
Expect to spend money on restaurants, whether you’re having a wonderful night out with your buddies or a pizza night in with your housemates.

The cost of this will differ significantly depending on your circumstances. You should typically budget between $100 and $200 per semester.


If you don’t know how to do laundry now, you will most likely need to before you enroll in college. Laundry facilities are common in college dormitories. You might find one or more laundry rooms on various floors of the building, depending on the size of the dorm.

Laundry is an expense that may seem small, but it adds up quickly. A typical washing load costs $1.50, and a typical dryer load costs $1.50. That does mean that, as a college student, a full load of laundry can set you back $3.

Let’s do the math: If you wash your clothes once a week and there are around 16 weeks in a semester, you may anticipate spending $48 on laundry per semester and $96 per year.
Don’t forget to stock up on quarter rolls. There are numerous coin-operated machines in dorm laundry rooms.

Social outings

Undoubtedly, going out with friends may be enjoyable. Depending on what’s available near your campus and what you choose to do, the cost of going out will vary.

Your spending on social outings will vary depending on how frequently you go out. A coffee date may cost between $2 and $5. Seasonal activities like ice skating may cost roughly $20 if you attend college in or close to a city. Tickets to a museum could cost you between $10 and $15.

Make sure to inquire about student discounts because many museums and other attractions do. You might also think about visiting a public space that is free, like a park. Many cities and towns have lovely green areas that are perfect for picnics and relaxing.


Undoubtedly, the various modes of transportation can have a significant impact on your financial situation.

Although commuting might be an excellent method to save money on housing, the cost of transportation can pile up quickly. You’ll need to fill up your petrol tank fairly frequently if you drive home every day or even simply on the weekends. The cost of traveling by train can reach $10–$15 one way.

If you commute to school in a suburban or rural region with little access to public transportation, your car may serve as your primary mode of transportation.

If you attend school in a metropolis, public transit might be an excellent means of transportation. For instance, a single subway token in Philadelphia costs $1.80. The subway is typically more expedient and affordable than other forms of transportation.

Many college students use the services of Uber and Lyft, especially if they don’t have a car on campus. Despite how convenient Uber and Lyft are, the costs can add up. These firms offer rides for a range of $5 and above. If you want to save money, you should definitely think about using ride-sharing services that charge less.

About James G. Barr

I am an international student. I am a doctoral student and teaching assistant at a University in the United States. Aspiring students looking to make their educational dreams come true, we offer generous scholarships to help you reach your goals.

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