When you decide to go to college, the tuition at various colleges will most likely shock you. Yes, everyone knows that college is expensive, but once you add everything that goes into college up, it can be a shocker. You have to think about the entire cost of going to college, so that you can be more prepared.

Today’s post isn’t to scare you from going to college or university, it’s to inform and prepare you for when you decide to attend.


Of course tuition will most likely be the biggest expense! Whether you are going to a state university or private college, tuition will most likely be at the top of your college expenses list.

I attended a private university, then one summer I knocked out 12 credits at a community college (for the cheap price!), and I went to a state school for my Finance MBA.

The private university was around $25,000 a year (before any housing expenses), the community college was only around $1,000 for the 12 credit hours, and the state school cost around $15,000 for tuition for the whole MBA program. That’s a pretty big range!

The Cost of Going to College

Living: renting, buying, dorm

I never lived in a dorm or on campus, but I did rent a house my first year, and bought a house when I was 20. The house that I rented was very cheap because we rented it from a family member and was only $350 per month. We had to pay for all utilities and everything though, and the electric and gas bills were through the roof for how small the house was! They’re triple what the utility bills are for the house we own now.

If you decide to stay on campus, then your housing costs can vary. There are almost always the cheap dorms, and then the expensive apartments and homes to rent as well. I remember one of my friends paid $1,200 a month to live on campus and she split the college apartment with 3 or 4 other girls. If this apartment wasn’t on campus, it would have been no where NEAR that cost.

Of course, the cheapest way to go is to stay at home. If your parents don’t make you pay rent, then that’s even better.


Oh books, these can be so expensive when you are in college! Some of my finance books cost $300 and up. And it always seemed like the most expensive books were books that I could never find used or to rent. I always went to the book store to find exactly what I was supposed to buy, write it down and compare prices online. The university book store always seemed to have overpriced books that were at least $50 over anything that I would ever find online.

Renting books is also another option. I did this a lot in college. If you know that your book will be replaced next year or there will be a new edition created which would make your book worth a lot less than what you bought it for, then renting your text book might be a good idea. I was usually able to rent my textbooks for around $50 per book for a whole semester. Not bad! And a box and postage were always included for when it was time to return the text book as well. No hassle and super easy!


This can include many things, ranging from bills you might have to pay (cell phone, utilities, insurance, etc.) and fees at school (such as parking, lab fees, etc.). If you decide to live on campus, there might be the possibility that you don’t need a car, but if you live off campus, then there is most likely a big chance that you need a car. There are of course many other expenses that come with a car too: car payment (if applicable), car insurance, gas, maintenance, and so on.



Michelle Schroeder is the founder of Making Sense of Cents and Diversified Finances, a personal finance and lifestyle blog about budgeting, traveling, life, and student loans. Read further on her story and life.