first semester

How Much Money Do I Need to Start the Semester?

cost of college
You did it. You received that highly anticipated bigger rather than smaller envelope in the mail stating you have been accepted into a college. You’re ecstatic. Then another piece of mail comes and it’s your tuition bill. That’s when it hits you. College is expensive, but just how expensive is it and what will you need to fork over for your first semester?

Tuition
Your first order of business should be calculating your tuition costs, which vary greatly from state to state and are a huge factor in determining how much student loans you may need. According to the College Board’s 2012-2013 Trends in College Pricing survey, the average cost for tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year institutions was $4,327 a semester, while the average at private nonprofit four-year institutions was $14,528 a semester.

Room and Board
The average cost for on-campus living for undergraduate students attending public four-year institutions is $4,602 a semester, and $5, 231 a semester if you attend a private nonprofit four-year school. If you live off campus without roommates, your living expenses can double.

Books
Renting textbooks is becoming increasingly popular among college students. Your total book costs depend on your major and other factors, but on average, if you rent your books, you could spend $300 a semester, which is significantly less than if you were to buy your textbooks.

And when you rent your textbooks from eCampus.com, you may save even more money. Not only can you spend less on your books, but you can receive cash back when you sell your books to eCampus.com, so other students just like you can buy them at a lower price. It’s fast, easy and saves you money!

Transportation
Depending on whether you own a car, use public transportation, live on- or off-campus and how far you travel, your average semester cost for transportation is about $700 and parking may cost $70 a semester.

Social Life and Miscellaneous Expenses
Depending on how much you spend on eating out, you could spend  $1,000 a semester just to keep your social life intact.

Financial Aid
After you calculate all your expenses, consider how much financial aid you might receive. According to College Board, in 2012-2013, undergraduate students attending public four-year institutions received an average of $2,875 a semester in grants and federal aid, while students attending private nonprofit four-year institutions received $7,840 a semester.

Estimated Cost for Your First Semester of College (with financial aid):

  • $8,124 for public four-year institutions
  • $13,989 for private nonprofit four-year institutions

Estimated Cost for Your First Semester of College (without financial aid):

  • $10,999 for public four-year institutions
  • $21,829 for private nonprofit four-year institutions

Keep in mind, there are many factors that determine your actual cost of attendance. For a more exact cost, you may want to contact your college’s financial aid department.

Kaitlyn Fusco is a content writer for Debt.org. She combines her interests in writing and overcoming debt to inform the public about issues related to credit, debt and personal finance.