This was originally published on Monday, April 15, 2019, in the Pacific Daily News. Click here to subscribe to the PDN.
College or career school costs can vary significantly and there are many schools with affordable tuition and generous financial assistance. Make sure to research all schools that may meet your academic and financial needs.
Set a budget and stick to it. Determining a budget will help you compare anticipated college or career school expenses against your potential available income and financial aid. You also can use a budget to compare costs between different schools.
- Tuition and fees:Tuition is the cost of the classes and can vary depending on the school you attend and the number of classes (or credits) you plan to take each semester. The major you are perusing can also influence the price of tuition.
For example, resources and supplies used in engineering or computing may be more expensive than the needs of business majors.
Tuition fees may include student parking, library access, lab fees and other campus services.
You may be required to put a down payment to enroll you in your classes. Most colleges will offer a payment plan.
Tuition costs will also be higher if you are an out-of-state student.
- Living expenses: Besides the costs of books, tuition, room and board, you will incur other incidental costs. You should enjoy your college experience, attend games, enjoy a night out on the town and take in the local attractions. Balance studies with fun.
Create a budget to help you stay on track. Whether you are living in the dorms or renting an apartment, you will have to purchase necessary items to furnish your new living quarters. Many rentals around the campus have fully furnished apartments to rent.
Other costs may include a computer, printer, microwave, small fridge, bedding and towels. You may also need other equipment for certain classes.
Don’t forget to add mobile phone and seasonal clothing.
To offset some of your living costs, you may want to get a part-time job. Many local restaurants around the campus hire college students. You can also find part-time employment on campus.
- Health care: Most young adults can stay on their parents’ family health plan until they turn 26, even if they are married or not living with their parents. Some schools offer a student health plan which can be an affordable way to get basic insurance coverage.
According to the healthcare.gov web site, a student health plan will count as qualifying health coverage. This means you are considered covered under the health care law and won’t have to pay the penalty for not having insurance. Be sure to check with the plan to be sure.
If you are under your parents’ family plan, be sure to find what local hospitals and clinics will accept your insurance and how much will be your co-pay.
- Travel:You may want to include a yearly flight back home. If mass transportation isn’t available, you may also want to think about how you will get around. If you purchase a car, remember to add insurance, fuel and maintenance to your budget.
If you live off campus and public transportation is available, you will want to add that into your budget as well.
Bicycles are a great mode of transportation while in college. The added benefits using a bicycle is you get a little exercise, you can lock your bicycle near your classroom and you avoid parking fees.
Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 25 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at http://www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.