When providing estimates for Cost of Attendance (i.e. Sticker Price), schools include Personal Expenses to reflect the fact that students have normal non-educational expenses for things such things as laundry, toiletries, haircuts, meals & snacks outside the meal plan, entertainment and various other weekly expenses.
The figures provided by the school are rough estimates and are often higher than the amount a student actually needs during the academic year. You should calculate your own personal expense figure using the following guidelines:
1. Confirm the length of the academic year.
2. Prepare a realistic weekly budget based on the lifestyle the student is accustomed to and can afford while at school.
Will this lifestyle be frugal, moderate or lavish?
Create a Budget
Parents and students should create a personal expense budget and write down an itemized list of projected expenses.
During the school year, many families have found it easier to deposit funding for the personal expenses into a shared debit card on a regular basis, either weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. This approach helps to teach and reinforce responsible money management.
Better yet, some families make the student fully responsible for earning his/her own spending money through summer work and/or work-study during the school year.
Parents and students should reevaluate their personal expense after a the first few months of school.
Personal Expenses and Net Price Estimates
Since the personal expense estimates included in the itemized Cost of Attendance (Sticker Price) figures published by many colleges are often very high, the Net Price estimates produced by the school Net Price calculators are often higher than than the actual cost will be for students who take a disciplined, cost conscious to their personal expenses.
The Advanced Net Price Worksheet allows students to adjust the estimated personal expense figure and customize their Net Price estimates.