Paying for college involves more than covering the costs for tuition and required fees. Some college costs are included in the college’s published cost of attendance, but actual costs may be higher than the official estimates. For example, textbooks and transportation costs are especially likely to be underestimated.

Some fees are not included in the list of required fees. For example, class-specific fees may include charges for materials (e.g., art, chemistry, biology, physics, etc.), studio or practice room time and laboratory fees. The same is true for per-use fees (such as the athletic facility or pool or weight rooms). Unfortunately, even when a college has a “comprehensive” fee, the fee usually isn’t all-inclusive.

Some colleges have differential tuition and fees, where specific academic majors cost more. Some charge more if a student takes more classes.

There are also some costs that are not eligible for student financial aid, such as costs that occur before enrollment and fees for graduate admissions tests, test prep and application fees. Also, the cost of licensing exams and post-undergraduate campus visits are not covered by financial aid.

There are many other hidden expenses students encounter while attending college. These costs can vary from a few dollars to several thousand over the student’s college career. Most students will spend $250 to $500 per month on these hidden costs.

This checklist covers many of the unanticipated college costs:

 Download the PDF: Hidden College Costs Checklist
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