What Costs Can Your College-Bound Child Expect Their First Year?

by Lauren Beichner

Marketing Specialist


Before the tassel moves to the left, you’re already thinking, “How much money is she going to need this fall?” C’mon, admit it. While yes, you are all excited about the pomp & circumstance that comes with high school graduation for your child, it’s time to think about budgeting for their Freshman year.

According to collegeboard.org, the average estimated full-time undergraduate budget for a public four-year in-state on-campus experience is $24,610. This includes tuition and associated fees, room and board (obviously), books and supplies (estimated), transportation, and “other” expenses. It’s the “other” expenses that you really should plan carefully for.

While you may have paid for the main expenses (tuition, fees, room, board and even books/supplies), don’t forget about these:

Décor for his/her Dorm Room or Apartment 

Whether on campus or off, your child is going to want to add their personal touch to their living accommodations. Besides, that’s the “fun” of getting ready for Freshman year – shopping for new bedding, matching rugs, cute totes for their shower supplies, pictures/posters for their walls, etc.

New Clothes at the Beginning of the Year AND during the Year

You’ll probably get the bulk of clothes shopping done prior to moving your child into his/her dorm, but you can anticipate that during the year they just might like to buy something else new. Perhaps that winter coat they’ve been wearing for four years is so yesterday, and it’s time to upgrade? If they’re attending a winter or spring formal, they’re going to need the proper sophisticated attire for it. Perhaps, your daughter just wants to buy that cute sweater as showcased on the mannequin at her favorite boutique. Of course, whether male or female, you know they’re going to want something with the school logo on it. They’ve got to represent after all! Whatever the reason, expect they are going to spend money on clothes.


You also know they are not going to spend ALL their time on campus. They’ll head to the movies, mall, local restaurant, or a concert with their friends on occasion. They’re going to need money for that too!

Other Expenses you Might Also Want to Consider

Cell phone charges, car insurance, gas for that car, etc. Of course, you and your college-bound child will know best what to budget for, but you’ll definitely want to budget. Financial journalist, Jean Chatzky, has created a nice sample semester and monthly budget template on her blog. Check it out!

Paying for college is one of the highest expenses your family will ever have, second to owning a home (and in some cases – first; it depends on your child’s major). Be prepared for all the costs involved.


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