If you plan to pay for college in the near future, you should know that tuition is only part of the overall cost. Tuition costs rose so rapidly since the 1990s that some state legislatures placed limits on tuition increases. In response, many universities expanded fees to raise revenue instead.
Beware of Hidden Fees
At many schools, the fees can equal the cost of tuition for a semester, so make sure you research for the average cost of college thoroughly before making your final decision. Here are a few hidden costs you should know about before choosing a school.
Orientation and Graduation
Orientation fees usually cover the cost of attending a special session for first-year students, while graduation covers the cost of the matriculation event. The University of North Carolina charged incoming students a $150 orientation fee in fall 2019 for a multi-day stay that included identification cards and registration. Depending on the school, these costs range from $50-$300 at most institutions.
A one-time fee when you start and end your studies isn’t excessive and is generally affordable. Use some of the gifts you received at graduation to cover the fee. Plan for the expense in your budgeting process and account for it as an educational cost if you’re using 529 plan funds.
Campus and Sustainability
Schools often tack on a small fee for each class or each semester that goes toward campus maintenance costs. Georgia College charges $5 per semester for a green fee designed to impact the environmental sustainability of the campus and surrounding areas. The fees range from $5 to $100, depending on the school. Other similar line items you’ll find on a bill are green fees that advance sustainability projects.
Add at least $100 to your budget to cover facility and maintenance fees, especially if your chosen university is pursuing eco-friendly projects. It’s easy to fund this fee by getting donors to pledge a small amount toward a service project. For example, get together with a few incoming freshmen and do a beach cleanup. Donors can pledge five dollars for every pound of trash picked up. You’ll raise the fee and have a great story to tell during college interviews.
Shuttle buses make getting around a university much more convenient. Some schools even provide service to nearby off-campus apartments or scheduled shopping outings for dorm residents, making it easy for students without cars to attend. However, all that convenience doesn’t come free. Most schools bill every student for transportation costs, whether you use them or not. The fee can appear with every credit hour or as a lump sum per semester. For example, the University of New Mexico charges $968 each semester.
Although the fee is significant, it’s likely less than you’d pay in car payments, gas, maintenance, and parking permits. Consider creating a crowdfunding campaign to get others to help you. Write a clear explanation of how the fee will help you afford your education and use all of your social media prowess to spread the word.
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Because health insurance isn’t universal in the United States, universities provide on-campus access to health clinics. Meredith College in Raleigh, NC charges $3,156 for the 2019-2020 academic year for student health insurance.
Those with private insurance can waive the fee at most universities, but might not have full access to on-campus health services. If you don’t have insurance, getting covered through the university is cost-effective and convenient. Not only will minor conditions get treatment through the health clinic, but it can save your family from bankruptcy in the case of a catastrophic accident.
If you only look at tuition to see if a school is affordable, you’re missing a big part of the picture. Even public universities can charge $3,000 in fees on top of the average $9,410 tuition. Your education is an investment, so don’t be shy about asking those in the community around you for assistance. In California, there are several title loans in Victorville or in Daly City where you can get extra cash for school expenses. Research the line items and account for these hidden fees when budgeting so you know exactly how much each semester will set you back.