The summer before heading off to college can be a time to spend time with friends and family, have some fun, and prepare for the move away from home. While a summer dedicated to relaxation and fun might be the first thing on your mind, you might also consider getting a summer job.

If you are headed to college in the fall, you’ve most likely gotten the tuition, room and board taken care of with scholarships, grants, work study and possibly some loans. You know that you’ve got to figure in some costs for textbooks, dorm accessories and possibly a laptop. But, is that all you have to factor in for expenses? It’s unlikely.

Just like anything else in this life, there will be added fees tacked on to your first college bill; and if you aren’t prepared you could find yourself in a bit of a predicament when the bill arrives. Summer jobs are a perfect way to prepare for those unexpected add-ons by saving the money you earn and setting it aside for the fall semester.

Here are just a few added costs that can tack on hundreds and even thousands to your college costs:

Health Insurance—Colleges require that you be covered by insurance. You can remain on your parents’ policy until you graduate, but if you don’t have family medical coverage, plan on spending $500-$1000 for this little extra. Be sure to notify the college of your coverage so they won’t bill you for theirs.

Gym fees—Some colleges include these in tuition, but some don’t. Michigan State and Penn State charge for the use of their on-campus facilities (up to $80 per semester).

Parking and car registration—Many campuses discourage freshmen from bringing cars to college. But if you are commuting, you are going to have to pay those fees to park while you attend classes.

Activity fees—These pesky little buggers appear on your bill every semester. They can start at $100 and go up into the thousands. What are they? Every college uses them to offset expenses without having to state specifics.

Dorm damage deposit—This fee will appear on your bill if you are living on campus. Don’t EVER expect to get it back. College students are notorious for abusing their dorm rooms. Even if you are a neat freak, odds are your roommate won’t be.

Computer insurance—If you are bringing a computer to campus (especially a laptop), I highly recommend you purchase this insurance. It covers loss, damage and theft and it’s worth every penny you will spend.

Dorm contents insurance—Although most campuses say they are secure, students tend to leave their doors unlocked and let anyone into their dorm halls (even if they don’t know them). It’s worth the added minimal expense.

College campus cards—These cards are used for on-campus necessities (laundry, snacks, copies, class supplies). It’s like a debit card and you will need to put money on it for each semester.

Technology fees—Most colleges have computer labs, Wifi access, Ethernet connections and video equipment. Colleges charge these fees to offset their costs for maintaining these services.

Lab fees—In addition to tuition, colleges charge fees for the use of lab equipment. Fees vary but can easily top off to $100 or more.

Greek life—If you are considering a sorority or fraternity, there are yearly dues involved, not to mention all the other costs that quickly add up (t-shirts, pins, formal attire, gifts for sisters/brothers).

Spending money—More than 2/3 of students report receiving funds from home each month. If you don’t want to hit up your parents for some cash, use your summer job as a means to pay your own way in the fall.

Travel expenses—If you are traveling to a college away from home, don’t forget to factor in those travel costs: gas, airfare, and other transportation costs. You can count on at least 3-4 home visits the first year of college.

You can see that $100 here and $200 there can easily add up to thousands of dollars added on to the money you are already spending on that college education. Be smart and plan ahead for these expenses by using your summer wisely and working full time. You can easily chalk up enough money during the summer months to offset most, if not all, of these expenses.

If you haven’t planned for college in the fall, it’s never too late. You can get information about undergraduate degree programs now!


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