Going to college is an exciting time. It can feel like a step into your future – a new location, the opportunity to meet new people, and learn about something that excites you and potentially offers a future career path.
However, it’s not a cheap adventure, and unless you have to go to a specific college for whatever reason, you may be looking to do some research into the costs of attending different schools.
It’s important to recognize that college costs a huge amount of money, so you should ensure that you make the right choices for you, and consider the overall experience, rather than simply opting for the cheapest course fees. If you’re struggling to make the call, then talk to a trusted friend or family member, or create a spreadsheet to calculate rough income and expenditure. Not only can this help you ensure that you can afford college, but it can help keep you on track once you do go.
Here, we look at some things you need to consider.
Whilst you might think that college costs a set amount of money across the country, that’s not true. There are multiple factors that affect the price of your course, and as a result, a degree at one college might not cost the same amount as another school, even if the course is the same.
This is because a university with a good reputation will attract a higher caliber of lecturers, and may have better facilities compared to a smaller university. They may also be able to book well-known guest lecturers or speakers too.
There are also different fee structures in place for private vs public universities. Private universities tend to rely on tuition fees and donations to function, so their fees are likely to be higher, whereas public universities might qualify for governmental support that means they don’t need to charge as much.
Housing and cost of living
As well as course fees, housing costs are one of the big college expenses. Unless you choose a local school and live at home, you’ll be joining the ranks of students who live in rented accommodation. You may be able to get accommodation directly through your university, in which case you’ll pay them a set fee, or else you’ll have to look for a private rental or a room in a houseshare. For many students, this will be their first experience of living away from home, so it’s important to make sure that you’re confident you can pay your rent – and that might mean some compromise in your expectations.
You’ll also need to consider the cost of living, as this will affect how much money you need to budget for. Living in cities can often be more expensive, so make sure you’ve thought about this before you commit.
Opportunity for part-time work
Many students choose to find part-time employment alongside their studies to boost their income, whether that’s a weekend job or taking evening bartending shifts. This can help ease the pressure that comes with college finances, and it helps you meet new people.
If working is in your plan for your college years, make sure that there are enough opportunities in the local area to support this. Smaller, rural schools might be cheaper, but if there’s only a handful of bars and cafes nearby, competition for student jobs is likely to be high, leaving you without this all-important extra cash.