More and more Americans are going to college. According to data from the Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 1980, 50% of high school graduates between the ages of 16 and 24 were enrolled in college; in 2016, it was 70%. In 2016, 19.3 million undergraduate students were enrolled in higher education institutions. 70% were enrolled at public schools, 23% at private non-profits schools and 7% at private for-profit schools. The cost of going to college has also changed since 1980 — however, how much it has changed depends on whether you look at the “sticker price” or the net price after financial aid. After adjusting for inflation, the average undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board has more than doubled since 1964, from $10,040 to $23,835 in 2018.
Unfortunately, college tuition and room and board are far from the end of college expenses. Campus tours, orientation, and even transporting your kid to their dorm or apartment are all extra expenses not normally factored in when we talk about the costs of college. It’s important to be aware of some of these extra costs of college so that you can plan ahead as a family.
- Summer orientation. Many first-year college students will need to attend a summer orientation session at their new college. This will require transportation, lodging, meals, and more.
- Dorm supplies. Kids will need the basics like twin sheets, towels, and cleaning supplies, and some go ‘extra’ with the requests for decor, storage solutions, and small furniture. Set a budget or you might be surprised at the Bed Bath and Beyond total!
- Food for off-campus events and weekends. Those meal plans are wallet-saving, but many students will want something different occasionally, especially if they are off-campus with friends. Families should also check dining hours to ensure that 3 meals are served on weekends as well, since some are closed for cleaning for at least one meal.
- Technology costs. Kids will damage their phone or computer, or worse, even lose them. Don’t forget printing costs, extra charging cords, and online codes for e-textbooks.
- Medical/ health costs. Many first-year students will get sick from all of the close quarters with new germs. A visit to a local doctor or campus health clinic, plus medicine, can add up.
- Storage or shipping. Dorm supplies will need to be shipped home before summer or stored locally.