Many students are faced with significant additional expenses beyond the standard costs associated with Tuition & Fees, Room & Board, Books & Supplies, and Transportation. Some examples include:
Start Up Costs/Living on Campus
A typical freshman dormitory room comes equipped with a bed, a desk, a lamp and a garbage can for each resident. You need to provide everything else: Bedding, towels, reading lamps, decorations, coffee maker, dorm refrigerator etc.
Start Up Costs/Living off campus
Many colleges do not provide on campus housing for all four years. Some off campus housing options will be furnished or mostly furnished while other will be completely unfurnished.
Parents should check their existing insurance to see if it meets the requirements of the college. If your existing health insurance plan is not transportable (i.e. an HMO) you will almost certainly be required to purchase medical insurance from the school. Although full time students at most colleges pay a health services fee which gives them access to campus health care facilities, this is not the same thing as the required medical insurance.
At many schools parking on campus is quite expensive.
Joining a Fraternity or a Sorority is often an expensive proposition as dues and related costs may be high. This 2014 New York Times article sheds some light on this topic.
At many schools both varsity and club sport athletes incur expenses for gear and sometimes for training trips during winter or spring break.
Students that can afford it often go to places like Florida, Mexico or the Caribbean for spring break which puts pressure on students who are less able to afford it. Parents and students should discuss this issue upfront so that expectations are managed in advance.
Students who expect to go home for spring break rather than stay on campus should account for these travel costs when estimating total school related travel cost for the year.