Preparing for the High Cost of College


high cost of college

It’s no secret that college is expensive, and most parents will spend their working lives post-children saving for it. Unfortunately, there are no fixed costs when it comes to college, and fees and other expenses can rise and fall in line with the economy. Knowing what to expect when it comes to college expenses will help you and your child be prepared for the high cost of college, as well as be able to budget.

The rising cost of college

The cost of college has risen in recent years, and the same applies to universities all over the world. If you Google ‘the cost of college,’ you could be in for a bit of a shock. According to Forbes, going to an elite college could cost as much as $334,000 ($68,000 a year) by 2018, with four years at a public college costing up to $28,000 a year and private colleges $59,000 a year. While college has always been expensive, you might not have been expecting costs to be this high.


Some college fees will include the cost of housing and meals that make it easier for you to work out how much you’ll be paying for the basics. On average, you could expect to pay between $8,000 and $11,000 a year for this – depending on whether you go to a public or private college. If you choose a meal plan, this means you won’t have to worry about how your child will eat for the next four years when you say goodbye and can feel happy knowing that this has already been covered.

Housing costs, of course, can vary, and if your child is paying these costs themselves, they may not necessarily want to live on campus. Off-campus housing can often be cheaper, as there is a wider choice of properties available that they could share with friends and fellow students during their time.


Books are another cost that can be unexpected when your kid goes to college. Book costs will vary depending on what they choose to study, but the average is around $1,200 and up to $200 a book. This is of course if you buy all of the books brand new, which is unnecessary in most cases.Many textbooks can be accessed online, and most college libraries will carry the books you need if you can get your hands on them.


Computers and other equipment are other costs you’ll want to factor in when working out the total cost of college. While it’s likely your child already has a laptop, it may be due for an upgrade by the time they leave for college. A laptop should last the four years of college, although it might be wise to invest in some insurance as well in case of theft or accidental damage. Another idea is to lease a laptop as a way to save money and to get an upgrade after two years without spending much more than it would have cost to buy the computer outright.

Entertainment and other expenses

Entertainment is another cost that will need to be factored in and might be where you draw the line at what you’re willing to pay for as parents. There are many hidden costs of going to college, including laundry and nights out. For these expenses, your child may need to consider a part-time job, or you could set them a monthly budget for these costs. This is the part that will teach them the most about managing their own money, and if they want to enjoy a more active college lifestyle than you are willing to provide – they will need to think about how they’re going to cover those costs.

Financing college

There are many ways you can finance college. While many colleges will offer a scholarship with their acceptance, you need to be prepared for the possibility that they may not. You can find ways to fund college without a scholarship and might want to consider grants, loans and payment plans to cover it.

For many parents, funding college will come out of your income. This will mean certain sacrifices while your child is at college such as vacations, a new car or home improvements. If things get tight, you might need to seek options for a larger payday from time to time. It might be a tough four years, but it will be worth it when your child earns their college degree.

Going to college is a huge achievement for your child, and for you as parents. The cost can be worrying, but there are other parents in your situation who have survived and made it through. Once you’ve worked out how to pay for college, you can look forward to this special time in your child’s life knowing that you’ve been able to help them on their way.

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