Housing, fees and, saving on books

ASPIRE Tips: What is The Real Cost of College?

What to Consider When Budgeting for College and How to Save


There are many costs associated with attending any college or university. Of course, the easiest is to identify the biggest – cost of tuition, but there are other expenses to consider when thinking about your financial future.


These costs can include:

  • Education Expenses – Tuition, fees, books and materials, and supplies.
  • Transportation Expenses – Car expenses and insurance, parking, public transportation, trips to home, or commuting.
  • Living Expenses – Dorm or apartment rent, utilities, telephone, furnishings, food, and laundry expenses.
  • Personal Expenses – Entertainment, restaurants, sports, medical expenses, gifts, and emergencies.


Saving on books is an important skill to learn before college. The cost of books can easily add up to hundreds of dollars each term. Sure you need to have the right books for your classes, but here are a few tips to help save you from breaking the bank:

  • Is the book a required text? Many professors are required to list all books they use as reference throughout the term. Many may just assign just a small section, or sometimes the book will be available at the library.
  • Buy used. Generally, textbooks are updated every year with the latest edition. Sometimes, the newest edition only has slight changes from the previous. Compare editions and see if you can buy an older one for less.
  • Buy online. Many times you can find the same books available at your campus bookstore online for less. Sites such as com and Textbooks.com are good places to search for your books.
  • Rent your books. For most, the freshman year consists of taking general academic classes. For these classes, you might consider renting your books. Renting a book is cheaper than purchasing to own and is fairly easy. Check out com for more information on renting textbooks.
  • Sell Back. Each term, decide what books you’d like to keep as future reference and sell back those you will no longer use. Generally, your campus bookstore will hold special “buy-back” days for you to turn in your books at the end of the term.


For more information, ask your ASPIRE mentor to help you determine your costs and identify money-saving tips.


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