06/29/2011 08:46 am ET | Updated Aug 28, 2011

College Costs You're Not Considering, But Really Should Be

The cost of college is often considered to be some combination of tuition, room & board, textbooks, and a basic food plan. Inevitably though, a coffee here, a new shirt there, a lab fee for some goggles and a tablecloth-white jacket, and students are quickly finding themselves scrounging for some extra cash. Hear some of the under the radar costs that can add up quickly for incoming freshman.

This week's question asks:
"What are some of the most unexpected costs for incoming freshman?"

Rachel Winston"Little things add up" One student explained that going to Starbucks was a daily ritual that energized her in the morning, relaxed her in the afternoon, and provided the energy she needed to pull all-nighters. The problem? When she tracked her expenditures she found she had a $20/day habit, $140/week, about $600/month, which was the same amount she paid for fraternity/sorority membership/activities. That $1200/month cost combined with other unconscious costs for texting, student fees, paper, software, blue-books, Scantrons, school supplies, toiletries, entertainment, transportation, could bring additional monthly costs up to $1,500 to $2,000. Budgeting college expenses is an important lesson!

- Rachel Winston - President, Educators with a Vision

Enid Arbelo"I really want this, but do I really need it?" College is full of wants versus needs. So the first test is to distinguish what you can live without and... live without it. The second trick is to be very careful of little everyday expenses. These quickly add up! Picture this typical day on campus: Coffee brewed by a fancy barista: $4.25. Potato chips from student union vending machine: $1.25. Water bottle from sandwich shop: $2. Try this instead: Packing your own lunch, making your own coffee and bringing a refillable water bottle to school -- priceless (OK, not priceless, but definitely cheaper). So plan ahead and practice some restraint and you'll be able to save for the necessities and maybe a few "wants" too. 

- Enid Arbelo - Editor in Chief, NextStepU

Maura Kastberg"Some unexpected costs you don't want to forget" Health insurance for your child is a good idea; policies can range from $50.00 per month and up. There may be parking fees if your child brings a car to school. Some parents expect their child to earn their money for food and social activities but if you plan to foot the bill set a limit on the amount they can spend monthly. If your student plans to join in the Greek life there will be fees associated with that too. Then there are extras such as a gym membership or school pride gear.

- Maura Kastberg - VP of Client Services, CFAS