Planning for higher education expenses continues to be a crucial component of managing wealth. It’s important to consider all the costs associated with attending college, not just tuition, fees, and room and board. The indirect expenses that don’t show up on the college bill—books, supplies, travel, laundry, and the occasional late-night pizza—can greatly affect the overall cost.

In fact, costs can start adding up even before a student enrolls. Costs for admissions test preparation, college application fees, and visiting campuses across the country can accumulate into many thousands of dollars.

UNDERSTANDING THE REAL COST OF COLLEGE

When it comes to college itself, many schools include expenses in their published costs of attendance, but the real numbers can vary significantly.

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BOOKS AND SUPPLIES
Most colleges provide estimates of this cost. You may be able to lower these costs by buying used textbooks or renting them.

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TRAVEL
Don’t forget to add in the cost for travel between home and campus. Consider how often your student will make the trip home and what mode of transportation will be used (bus, train, plane, or car), as well as how often you visit them.

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PERSONAL EXPENSES
This category includes everything from late-night takeout to laundry and telephone bills, and the tab can add up quickly.