College Planning

What Should I Budget for College Costs?

This article suggests ways that parents can research the costs of education for their children so that they can better plan. Average costs for tuition and expenses are also included.

How Much Should Parents Pay for College?

A recent Employee Financial Wellness Survey of over 1,700 employed adults in the U.S. indicated that 41 percent of those surveyed who plan to fund education expenses for children, grandchildren, themselves, or a spouse/partner, have investigated how much they’ll need to meet their educational funding goal.1 And while the numbers can be daunting, you’ll find yourself in a better position to meet your goals if you realistically look at what it’s going to cost you and plan ahead.

The College Board reports that a moderate college budget for an in-state public college for the 2014–2015 academic year averaged $23,410, and a moderate budget at a private college averaged $46,272.2 While these are good benchmarks for gauging tuition costs, they’re not factoring in additional costs associated with a college education. What costs you say? In a 2014-2015 report by the College Board, here’s what you need to know about additional costs.

Personal and Transportation Expenses.

The College Board reported expenses in the area of personal and transportation costs ran from $2,609 at private colleges, to $3,242 at public universities. This includes things such as transportation, parking permits, personal items, and clothing. Make it a plan to pencil out a budget ahead of time when factoring in these costs.

Housing and Meals.

The average cost of room and board in 2014–2015 ranged anywhere from $9,804 at four-year public schools to $11,188 at private schools. It’s obvious by looking at the numbers that this category is one of the biggies. However, depending on the type of campus housing and meal plan you select, you may be able to control the costs by doing a bit of research.

Books and School Supplies.

Here, the College Board looked at the average costs associated for required learning materials. For books and supplies for the 2014–2015 school year was $1,146 at public colleges, and $1,244 at private institutions. This is another category that you may be able to control costs in by shopping for used textbooks.

Fees for services.

The types of required fees will be different at every college, and can vary depending on the type of degree a student is pursuing. They may include fees for the library, campus transportation, student government, athletic programs, and lab fees.

For more information on saving for college, visit the Protective Learning Center.


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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax‐related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit

Saving for College

How much should parents save for college? Saving according to tuition costs is a good start, but there are additional costs associated with saving for college that parent's may overlook. This article can help you understand what those additional fees may be so that you are better prepared. For more information, visit our learning center.