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August 27, 2008


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Only $500 for social life? That is quite a misconception

I just graduated while my husband is still working on a master's. Many peripheral college "expenses" are not need-based, but peer-based.

I know WAY too many students who expect to live as comfortably as their parents without paying for any of it themselves. Or who blow their entire food budget on car speakers and then mooch off of friends for a month. Lame.

Focus on teaching your kids financial responsibility and creativity and you'll do them a much bigger favor than saving even more money for their college fund.

The most successful people I know didn't have college paid for by their parents, but worked hard and had solid financial reasoning skills.

The problem with these numbers is that they include many costs that would be incurred if the child was not attending college also (ie social life). The cost of college is the incremental cost between what it costs the child to stay at home with their parents and what it costs them to attend school. For instance, nobody with a child attending a local community college and living at home is going to factor room and board into college expenses. Additionally, the article mentions items like video game consoles. Yes, that is something that many college students do spend money on, but only an idiot would consider it part of the cost of getting an education.

WTF? Who came up with the costs noted in the post? They're certainly not "college" costs as most people would think of them. Books and supplies are certainly required, but I don't get why "electronics" would be required to attend college. Buying an iPod or a stereo is not a "college" expense.

Insurance? For a college student in a dorm or apartment, the most they should need is tenant's insurance, which shouldn't cost more than $30/month or so.

Transportation? Buy a bus pass. In my city they cost about $60 per month - under $500 for an 8-month school year. Or, live on campus and walk.

If you're a college student, you're SUPPOSED to be broke. Since when should attending college have "lifestyle" expenses associated with it?

Other than books and supplies, I don't know that any of the other costs called out here are really incremental. You pay for electricity, furnishings, insurance, transportation, food, and social activities regardless of whether or not you are in college.

The true costs of college:
1. Foregone wages and benefits (overlooked by most people)
2. Tuition
3. Books
4. Supplies - both the obvious ones if you are in certain areas (i.e. if you are going to study art you need art supplies, if you are going to study math or engineering you need a calculator, etc), as well as the not so obvious (i.e. you may find that your 5-year-old computer doesn't run all of the applications that you need, or it may be incompatible with others who you will need to do group projects with)

The article seems to be talking about some 'costs' that are completely optional and not something I'd ever budget for.

The article says the electronics they are talking about are "an alarm clock, a cell phone, a digital camera, a DVD player, an MP3 player, a television and/or a video game player". Most of that stuff is definitely optional and not at all a requirement for college.

For 'social life' they list "Passes to football games, fees for fraternities and sororities, movie tickets, keg rentals" Again these are all optional.


I agree with rest of the people that these costs are not education costs, they are living costs and some costs will be shared if people share the advantages of one resource or another like living in the same room makes furniture and insurance costs divided.

Even some of the lifestyle costs can be shared like owning one tv, one console, one set of games etc. but that's another story since I fully agree these are not costs of education unless you're in the army school and you play FPS-type games every day.

Hm... Other than books, transportation, and insurance, that sounds like discretionary spending to me, and probably things that EVERY young adult buys, whether or not they are in college.

My parents paid for most of my education and necessary expenses in college, but everything on that list (other than insurance) I was expected to pay for myself - either out of my $20/week "allowance" or by working.

A few people have touched on my pet peeve - since when were regular LIVING expenses, considered college expenses? YEs, college costs a bajillion dollars when you add regular living expenses. But those are paid regardless. Even if you don't want to work in school you can certainly work summers and/or breaks to come up with the money to pay for the above.

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