When it comes to college there are so many hidden costs that parents don’t take into consideration. Depending if you decide to go the in-state route or venture out-of-state, your tuition and travel bill can be considerably higher.

For time sake, we will stick to discussing in-state college along with the extra bills you need to consider when preparing your child to leave the nest. While these costs may add up, there’s no need to panic. Saving Thousands is here to help you do just that, save thousands!

To assist parents with figuring out how much college will cost you each year, we have compiled a list of the major expenses and the price tag for each. The majority of expenses comes from your tuition, fees, and room and board. According to a study by College Board, this can average out between $18,000 to $42,419, contingent upon whether or not you send your child to a public or private four-year college.

Now lets dive into a detailed look at what you’ll be paying for each year your child is in college and how you can save on each cost.


You’re probably curious to know what the difference is between tuition and fees. Shouldn’t they all be capped into one? Not necessarily. Tuition covers the cost of your child’s classes while fees cover additional expenses such as athletics, student health care, etc. These fees can vary depending on which school your child chooses to attend.

To put the price tag into perspective, a public two-year college is going to average around $3,347 per year and a public four-year college will average around $9,139, according to the study done by College Board.


So how can you save the most on this bill? You’re best bet is going to be scholarships, which do not have to be paid back. You’re child can acquire these through outstanding athletics, good grades and meeting other specific requirements. You’re next best option is to consider sending your child to a two-year community college. They can then transfer to a 4 year university.


Room and board can be defined as “housing and meals”. This cost can range depending on where you live and what school your child attends. The College Board reports that the average cost of room and board in 2013–2014 was $9,500 at a public four-year college. This cost truly depends on if your child will live in a college dorm, greek house, off-campus apartment or at home.


The best way to save money in this department is for your child to live at home. Since we know that isn’t always an option, make sure you shop around before deciding on room and board. A short commute to an off-campus apartment may be less expensive than living on campus and having to pay for a required meal plan.


Something that I was never told when I started college: Don’t buy your books, rent them. Furthermore, don’t buy your books from the college library, shop around. The average yearly cost of books for college students is $1,200.


With so many different bookstores offering the “rent” option, you are liable to save hundreds of dollars on books and supplies. Websites such as chegg.com, ecampus.com, and amazon.com will offer textbook rentals at a fraction of the price. Also check out Gutenberg.org, it’s a website that offers hundreds of novels and other books that you can download for free.

Computers and software can also cost a pretty penny as well, so we suggest Rule #1 shopping around at the big retailers such as Best Buy, Costco, and Amazon for the best education discounts and deals. You’re college should also offer a discount on any software that is required by professors.


For other miscellaneous expenses, you can plan on spending around $2,000 per year according to College Board. This includes things such as cell phone service and entertainment—you didn’t expect your child to hang in the library all day and night, did you?


The best way to save on these miscellaneous expenses is to come up with a plan and a budget. Sit down with your child before the big move out day and go over a detailed budget and explain to him or her how much “spending” money they are actually entitled to. It’s also a great idea to introduce a part-time job to your student. Working a few hours a week will help your child to grow a strong work ethic, make some extra money, and add skills to his or her resume.

Although the list of college expenses can be quite overwhelming, with a well-thought-out savings plan, dad won’t need to sell his Harley to put little Ben through school. Add in a combination of scholarships and financial aid, your child will be set to excel (and afford) college!