Tips for Financing the Unexpected Expenses of College

By student blogger David Kieta


Well another summer-break has come and gone. Now it is back to the exciting life of a student. For some of us this is the same old routine. We are used to the daily grind, and we can make our way through another school year with (relative) ease. But for some this fall, it is the first step in a long journey through college. It can be really scary. For many students the first semester of college is the first time being away from home, and for the first time ever teachers will be treating you like an adult. Although this can be very intimidating it is worth it. Here are some tips to keep ahead of the game while also helping you keep a little money in the bank.

There are a few expenses that college can throw at you that many people never think about. First, the biggest college expense after tuition is books. Many people are surprised when they first discover exactly how much college books cost. Many students taking a full-time schedule are enrolled in at least 4 classes, and during the first few semesters, college students need to begin taking their core classes. Unfortunately these are the classes that require the most books.

During the first 3-4 semesters students should expect to spend $300-$600 per semester. This took me by surprise. I was expecting to spend money on books, but I had no idea that it would be so much money. My second semester of college cost me $685 just for books. There are a couple easy ways to save money on the books you need.

  • First, always look for used books. They are usually marked down, sometimes as much as 50%.
  • Second, Amazon is an amazing resource. They should have all the books you need and it only takes a few days for delivery. Although there are some exceptions, usually workbooks and worksheets, that you have to buy at the bookstore so beware of what your classes need.

Another major expense for college students is transportation and parking. These are enormous expenses that cannot be avoided. Some tuition includes public transportation passes and this can be a vital resource. If you have the option to take public transportation it is a great way to save a lot of money throughout your academic career. If you do have to drive and park on campus, it is a really good idea to look into annual parking passes. Most parking structures offer discounted prices for parking, but even so, on-campus parking can cost as much as $200 to park twice a week for the semester.

And finally, a huge unexpected expense is the cost of summer school. Financial aid only comes twice a year, at the beginning of each semester, so when tuition for summer school comes many people are surprised that they have to keep some of their FAFSA money to pay for summer classes.

Through the 4-6 years many of us are in college we will encounter many ups and downs. We experience the thrills of finally getting a major project completed, and the disappointment of falling short on an assignment, but with a little help, many sleepless nights, and a lot of patient dedication, we can all accomplish our academic goals and wear that coveted cap and gown.


David Kieta is a returning student at Metropolitan State College of Denver. He is in his senior year studying Creative Writing and Linguistics, and he hopes to complete a major novel right after graduation. For now he practices his craft with his student centered blog.

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