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Hidden College Costs

Kathleen Carmichael, Ph.D.

June 05, 2009

Hidden College Costs

You've calculated tuition costs, figured in room, board and books. You've even checked out scholarships and grants, filled out the FAFSA and budgeted for day-to-day expenses like groceries and laundry money. You've covered all your financial bases.

Yet even with careful planning, you may encounter college costs that take you by surprise. These costs crop up in the form of "miscellaneous fees" charged by your school for services or as penalties. Some colleges and universities provide lists of these fees on their Web sites. More often students learn of these fees only after they have incurred them.

Here are some fees to be aware of:

,b>Application and admission: These fees don't just apply when you enter school as a college freshman. You may find them added to your tuition statement or sent as a separate bill if you take a leave of absence or even if you transfer to another "school" (e.g. from School of Speech to Journalism School) within your college or university.

Course materials / laboratory use: You might assume that these fees would be built into tuition, but frequently materials-intensive classes (ranging from art to engineering) will saddle you with additional required costs.

Card replacement: Hang onto your student ID and meal card to avoid paying replacement fees (usually $15-$20).

Late tuition payment: Penalties for late payment are stiff, generally ranging from $50 to $100.

Service fees for cancellation, adding / dropping classes and late or changing registration: A little preparation can mean significant savings in change of registration fees. If you like to "shop around" for classes, do so the semester before you plan to register.

Official documents: Just because you've completed coursework, don't think you'll get those records for free! Transcripts, diplomas and "good student" auto insurance certification all come at a price.

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