The Hidden Costs of Higher Education

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by collegelife on August 22, 2011

The truth- in-lending act ensures borrowers know upfront exactly what all their risks, costs and expenses are before signing on the dotted line.  However, higher education isn’t that simple.  We know how much the big education loans are going to cost but not all the other hidden fees tacked on when we walk on campus.

  • According to a recent post by Noah S.  Bernstein in the New York Times, one of the largest hidden higher education costs are the interest charges and additional fees charged when you pay with your credit cards.  Sure, the monthly payments make college easier to pay for by the working class, but the wealthy, who can pay upfront, actually receive a discount by not paying these hidden fees.
  • Non-traditional students are in a rush and your time is valuable.  The hidden costs of fast food is usually nutrition.  Fast food is a fast way to gain weight, not to mention the additional expense.  Plan ahead, cook extra servings at home and package leftovers for the whole family to enjoy.
  • Obviously we’re big fans of renting textbooks.  Renting takes away the hidden costs and risks of buying and trying to sell back at the end of the semester.  You should also consider being a collaborative consumer on other items, rent what you need when you need it.  You can rent anything these days instead of owning things that are used very little and sit on a shelf.
  • Huge student loans can saddle you with so much debt it may make paying just the interest difficult.  It sounds flattering when you find out how big of a loan you’ve qualified for this year.  Don’t think you’ve got to spend all of it, be frugal and graduate with as little debt as you can.  It may take awhile to land the “dream job” and you’re going to want to buy a nice car and a home someday.
  • “When you coming home dad?”  “I want to be like you”.  Time is certainly a hidden cost for the working mother with two kids and going to night school to get her accounting degree.  But remember, they’re only young once, and they want to grow up to be just like you.  Stop and smell the “little princess”.
  • Other hidden costs includes computing, transportation, clothing, entertainment, social functions, cell phone, sporting events, lab fees and if your lucky, spring break.

The hidden costs are all around you and your campus.  Be aware of them, plan ahead, budget and be frugal.


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