Brighter Futures

Cost of College

College isn’t cheap, and the cost of college might scare you but we are here to help you understand the expenses that come with attending college. When we break down the expenses that go into attending college there are two categories; Expected and Unexpected Costs. Expected costs like its name states are costs that we can expect to pay, these can be things like College Tuition and FeesRoom and Board, Transportation, and lastly Books and Supplies. These are costs that tend to stay relatively around the same price every semester, and you can expect to pay every time you signup for new classes or a new school year begins. Unexpected typically fall into the category of Personal Expenses. These expenses are expenses that vary every time, or come out of the blue, for example your phone breaking and needing to buy a new one, or going out to a celebratory dinner with friends.

College Tuition and Fees

Tuition will vary based on what kind of school you attend, as well as the major you pick, and whether you have an assistance or scholarships. Colleges and Universities will typically charge a lower price of tuition for those students who are eligible to in-state tuition. In-state tuition, like it sounds, is offered to students who live in the same state or in one of the surrounding states as the school’s location. For Minnesotan residents, certain schools in Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, as well as Iowa will offer in-state tuition prices for Minnesotan residents. While this is very common for almost all schools, some schools will charge the same tuition price whether you live in state or reside in other states, an example of this being community colleges. Community colleges like Normandale Community College offers in-state tuition rates for every single one of their students, regardless of where they reside. Tuition will also vary on the school you pick as well as the major you pick. Bigger schools or private schools might be more expensive than those smaller public schools. The major you pick can affect your tuition cost as every major requires different needs. There are certain majors that require specific tools that the school offers to all students, a great example being lab equipment for majors involved in the science field like nursing, biology, and chemistry. In order to make equipment accessible to all students each student might be charged a small fee each semester in order to have access to those tools. Schools tend to also charge general fees that apply to all students like technology fees which make technology like computer and printers accessible to all students. Fees like these might be lower than those fees that are specific to your major.

Room and Board

Room and board is a cost that can vary student to student, as well as school to school. If you are going to a school further away from home it might make more sense to move to the city in which the school is located, meanwhile if the school you attend is close to home, it might make more sense to live at home and save money. In certain situations schools offer on campus housing for their students, although this might be convenient for some students it might be a an unnecessary expense that you can avoid. If you do decide to live on campus, it is a great way to meet new people and make connections as well as avoid a commute to classes. It is also important to know that certain schools require students to live on campus either their freshman year or all four years, in certain situations schools that require students to live on campus might allow students to break this rule if they have a valid reason. If you’d rather live off-campus your school might be able to help you find off-campus housing. Off campus housing is a great way for students to pick housing that works for them, as well as save money by not living directly on campus but still stay close to their school. Certain schools also make it easier for students to find off campus housing by associating with certain apartment communities so that students receive cheaper rent and ensure that you are living amongst peers.

Book and Supplies

Book and supplies is another expense that varies based on student needs and their major. While some classes will require little to no books or supplies, some classes might require students to buy a few books and supplies in order to be successful in class. It is always smart to check in with your teacher or check on the syllabus to know what books and supplies are needed and which are provided or optional to buy or rent. Students typically get a list of books and supplies before classes start but one of the biggest mistakes students make is to buy everything before the class begins. While this seems like a good idea, unless your teacher specifically asks the class to buy the supplies before classes begin, it is always better to wait until the first week to figure out what supplies you might need in class, this also gives you time to ensure that this class is the right one for you. Another great way to save on supplies is to look online. Your school’s bookstore might price their books a little more than other retailers because of the convenience, however, certain websites like amazon might have your class required books for less. It is always good to do your research and compare retailers on their prices for books.

Personal Expenses 

When we talk about personal expenses we mean the needs and wants that are specific to you. As a student we know that school can be stressful at times and sometimes you want to treat yourself for all the your hardwor. One way that students can save on these expenses are student discounts! There are many stores out there that offer discounts to students, all you need to do is show your student ID or create a profile in which the store verifies that you are a current student.


Transportation expenses vary on your school and your living situation while in school. If you live on campus or go to a big school you might be charged a small fee in order to use buses, trains, or subways associated with the school. Typically this fee is small and allows you to use these forms of transportation for free, as long as you show your student ID. Even if you live off-campus you might still be charged this fee as these resources are for all students to use. If you attend a larger college or university you might need to buy a parking pass in order to park on campus, meanwhile smaller schools might include parking with your tuition. If you do need a pass to park one way you can avoid this is by using the forms of transportation that your school provides for you.