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When you are preparing for college costs, you need to consider more than your tuition. There will be books, supplies, housing, meals, and transportation as well. You can save money during high school as long as you have a strategy, and there are financial aid opportunities that you may be eligible for.

Why You Should Plan Ahead

Most high school students aren’t thinking about college costs, as they are focused on getting accepted and preparing for the next stage of their lives. However, colleges don’t give out financial aid at the last minute, and you may need to apply for loans, scholarships, and grants a year before you go. If you don’t plan ahead, you may end up accruing more debt than you can imagine paying off. It is a good idea to consider the following costs.

Tuition and Fees

Your tuition is what your classes cost each semester, and it is different at different schools. You will apply for financial aid when you apply to schools, and they will let you know what you are eligible for. Then, they apply this to your tuition each semester. You will have fees, such as health and activity fees, which help the school offer extracurricular programs and other services to students.


No matter where you choose to live, you will have housing expenses. You should compare the cost of living on campus versus off-campus, and add up what the college provides versus what you have to pay. The costs may not be too different, and living off-campus can end up being more expensive. The cost of room and board may appear to be high, but it includes more.

Travel Expenses

Next, you should consider any travel fees, such as buses, shuttles, or public transit. You may also need to look at the cost of flying home during breaks.

Books and Supplies

You can find used textbooks to save on costs, but often your professors will write books and require that you buy them. They can be more expensive because they are special editions. You will also need school supplies, such as a computer, notebooks, pencils, and more.


You have to eat while you are in college, and you can consider what that will cost. You may be able to get meal plans, dining cards, and more, and you will want extra money to eat off-campus. If you live on campus, you may be required to buy a meal plan, so make sure that you understand these costs.