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 52 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 the average college budget for an in-state public college for the 2016-2017 academic year was $24,610, and at a private college averaged $49,320.2 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 2016-2017 report by the College Board, here's what you need to know about additional costs.

Personal and Transportation Expenses.

The College Board reported average expenses in the area of personal and transportation costs ran from $2,720 at private colleges, to $3,270 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 2016-2017 ranged anywhere from $10,440 at four-year public schools to $11,890 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 2016-2017 school year the average was $1,297 at public colleges, and $1,230 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.


1. http://www.pwc.com/us/efwsurvey
2. https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-estimated-undergraduate-budgets-2016-17

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