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Budget Planning for College
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Budget Planning for College

College is a pretty expensive time of life for most students. It's also the time when they're likely to have the least amount of money, as keeping up with classes doesn't leave much time for a full-time or high-paying job. A student can keep on top of his finances by building a budget and understanding where his money is coming from and where it's going out.

Tuition Costs and Fees
Figure out how much your school actually costs each semester. If you're a full-time student, you would most likely be charged a flat rate for tuition, while you may pay per credit if you're part-time or in graduate school. Many colleges also charge a range of fees, such as a technology fee, that goes towards computers and a campus-wide Internet connection, an activity fee for school dances or publications and a freshman orientation fee. You may also have to pay for parking and health insurance.

Room, Board and Everything Else

If only the cost of college stopped at paying for school. You'll also need to take any other expenses into account, though, including the cost of living in a dorm or an off-campus apartment, your meal plan, the price of books and any other materials you need for class, quarters for the laundry and the cost of personal items. Unless you plan to spend your college days exclusively studying, you should budget a bit of money for fun, such as going to the movies, concerts or going out for a nice meal now and then.

Financial Aid and Other Incomes
Ideally, a good portion of your college income will come from financial aid. Total up any grants, scholarships and student loans you receive. If your parents are chipping in too, put their money in this section, unless they'll distribute it to you in bits and pieces over the semester. Also include any money you are using from your college saving accounts in this section. If you have work-study or a part-time job, estimate how much you would earn from working and include it.

Making It Last and Precautions

The beginning of the semester is usually the priciest. You'll be paying the tuition fees and will have to purchase your books. Try to spread your expenses out over the course of the semester if you can, though. You don't want to arrive at finals time without a quarter to your name. Lucy Lazarony at recommends giving yourself a set amount to spend each week. Buy the books you'll need right away and wait to buy the books you won't need until the middle of the semester. It may be a good idea not to use a credit card during your college years, as you can easily blow your budget and wind up in debt.