Talking Money with your Teen

Just about every person who breathes knows that college can be costly, but not everyone knows that tuition, room and board, and books are just the beginning. There are additional educational expenses that students need to plan and save money for, not to mention transportation, entertainment, and those late night pizzas not covered on the meal plan. It’s a good idea to prepare yourself for the additional expenses you may incur at college!

Some college classes require more than books, and you may find yourself paying for materials related to projects. For example, you might be acting out a scene from Hamlet and find yourself paying for costumes and scenery. Perhaps you need to create a trivia game to illustrate the principles of psychology, which requires materials and prizes. If your American Poverty class teams up with a local children’s shelter, you might be tempted to bring toys or articles of clothing to underprivileged children. You may be creating your own book of urban myths or a puppet show to illustrate the life of Michelangelo. The point is, you may need to have some cash on hand for these out-of-pocket expenses.

Projects aside, you may need to purchase other materials for class, such as a graphing calculator, a special app for your smartphone or tablet, and the occasional scantron. Don’t forget about personal expenses, too, such as laundry, toiletries, haircuts, and entertainment.

You will also likely need money for transportation. Whether it is the subway or bus, your car or a buddy’s car, you will need to pay to get somewhere. If your roommate always drives, you should plan to chip in for gas money. If it’s your car, you will have maintenance expenses, insurance, and gas costs in addition to your car payments (if you have those). You also need to factor in transportation costs to and from home. (Believe it or not, you will want to go home to visit your folks and those annoying younger siblings!) Consider the cost of plane, train, or bus tickets or the cost of helping your hometown friend pay for gas, especially if he gives you a lift home.

College provides numerous opportunities, many of which require participating students to pay some money. Studies abroad, service trips, activity fees, or costs associated with Greek life can add up. These can be worthwhile experiences, though, so don’t write them off just because of the dollar figure. Save up some cash so you will be prepared to take advantage of a rafting trip in Costa Rica or a study of Renaissance art in Italy or spring break at the beach. If the Winter Formal is your idea of fun, remember that it costs money to rent a tux or buy a new dress, and then plan accordingly.

Planning is really the name of the game here. To avoid feeling “blue” about college expenses, plan ahead when spending the “green” each semester.


For more information about managing your money, return to the Financial Planning section. To find customized scholarships that you can apply for today, sign up or login to the time-saving scholarship search service. It's fast, easy and completely free.