Lifestyle, Money saving

5 Common College Student Expenses That May Surprise You

It’s no surprise that college is one the the greatest expenses in every parent (or student’s) lifetime. But many people are surprised that in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars spent every year on tuition, students face many additional expenses at college. Here are some of the common expenses that are often overlooked.


Notorious for their ramen noodle bites, college students are now sacrificing cost for convenience. Students on campus rely on late night cafeteria runs and fast food shops to plow through those 15 page papers. In 2012 over half of college students ordered take-out, with fewer than 9% going grocery shopping the old fashioned way, reported the Huffington Post. Students also need to factor coffee into their budget, as the average $2 cup of Joe can total a whopping $60 dollars per month. What other beverage is “eating up” the tab? Beer. According to the U.S. Department of Health, college students spend nearly $5.5 billion per year! Together with revamped Vegetarian, Vegan, Halel, Kosher, and Gluten Free options across college campuses, students are swallowing their debt now more than ever.


Most professors post the required books for their courses a month or two before Fall semester, expecting students to come to class ready for the first reading assignment due that night. Anywhere from 2-20 books can be required per class each semester. In addition, professors can require supplementary online resources and course access codes, taking on additional spending. College Board found that students spend on average $600 for a semester of books and that’s even with the various used and textbook rental options like Amazon and Ebay! Your best bet is to hit up your college’s Facebook page to find students eager to sell their old versions at a bargain, or find friends who took the course last semester and will let you borrow their books.


College Advisors advocate that students bolster their resumes with internships, but what they neglect to mention is the considerable expense of traveling there. Before shaking hands and accepting the intern position (which is more-times than not, unpaid), factor in the weekly travel expense of gas if you are a car owner, or the six-dollar-a-day bus fair, if you are not.

Collegiate Apparel

Sweatshirts, jerseys, socks, backpacks, track pants, and even earrings and underwear, campus shops are capitalizing on school spirit. Walking around campus, you will find nearly everyone decked-out wearing their home team emblem. Buying into the peer pressure, students will pay nearly double the item’s retail price in the campus-bookstore. Don’t be alarmed if you see a tag for a sweatshirt reading “69.98,” it’s not a mistake.

Lab Fees

Most colleges require each student to take a set of core curriculum classes. This means even those non-STEM majors will inevitably need to participate in at least one lab throughout their 4 years in order to graduate. These courses call for unavoidable lab fees not covered in tuition, which tack on an unassuming 50-150 dollars per pop. Yikes for the Biology undergrad.

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