Upromise - learn about Upromise and saving for college

Accessibility links:

direct and indirect costs

print this page Print this page

Remember that there is more to college expenses than just tuition and housing bills. Everything from books to supplies to trips back home adds to the overall cost.

To estimate how much college costs, look at the direct and indirect costs.

Direct costs

This category typically includes tuition, fees, and room and board. You pay the money directly to your school. Tuition and fees vary by school, and if you've selected a state school, your tuition will depend on your residency status. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can amount to thousands of dollars per year.

  • Tuition: If you selected a state school, the tuition (cost of classes) will depend on your residency status. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can be thousands of dollars a year. Some schools base tuition on the number of credit hours taken in an academic period. Others rely on enrollment status (full time versus part time). Get details from the financial aid or admissions office.
  • Fees: Most schools charge set fees for services such as activities or athletic facilities. Such fees usually appear on the tuition bill whether you use these services or not.
  • On-campus room and board: You may choose to live on campus and eat in dining facilities. Meal plans prices can vary significantly.

Indirect costs

These expenses are not paid directly to your school, but are associated with attending school. You and your family can control some of them.

  • Books and Supplies: Textbook costs are similar from school to school, but they vary greatly depending on the courses taken. Students can save by buying used books, buying online, or sharing with classmates. Some classes require more supplies than others; others have printing, copying, or computer costs.
  • Computer: Many schools require students to have a personal computer. Check the admissions requirements to determine whether a basic PC will do or a more expensive laptop is required. Remember to add the costs of software, a printer, and–if you live off campus–connection to the Internet.
  • Off-campus room and board: This category includes rent, furnishings, utilities, and meals. If you haven't learned how to cook, now is the time! Even if you live at home, there will be expenses related to food and commuting.
  • Transportation: If you will commute to school, factor in the cost of public transportation, gas, car insurance, maintenance, and parking fees. Some schools provide free parking, while others require a paid permit. If the school is far away, don?t forget the cost of air travel to get home on breaks and holidays. Your child can lower these costs by carpooling and by shopping around for student rates on airfare.
  • Personal expenses: Students have lots of small personal expenses that add up and can make a huge difference in this category. Consider clothing, laundry, haircuts, cell phone, and entertainment. Teach your child to maintain a written budget since these expenses can easily spiral out of control.
  • Special circumstances: If you have child care costs or expenses related to a disability, include them in your budget.
  • Other costs: Count on extra expenses such as lab fees for science courses, fees for course changes, and expenses for participating in athletics or joining a sorority or fraternity. Try to keep a little extra money in the budget to cover emergencies.

»  Return to College Costs
»  Return to Resource Center

This website may contain information from a third party or links to third party websites as a convenience to users. Upromise does not endorse or take responsibility for any such information. Such information is general in nature and not intended to be the opinion of Upromise.