Our goal is to pay cash for our kids’ college educations, so that neither they — nor we — have to take out loans. But we didn’t have a big education nest egg going in, so we’re doing it out of earned income or cash-flow.
Last year I broke down our daughter’s freshman year expenses item by item (see that list here). As I prepared to do the same this year, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that her sophomore year expenses were over $4000 less than the year before.
- There were no one-time expenses for a computer or for dorm room equipment and supplies. That saved us $2300.
- As it turns out, belonging to a sorority is quite a bit cheaper after the first year. $2200 cheaper, in fact.
- Fees were down almost $700, largely because there were no first year fees for orientation, etc. There was also no cost for a parking pass, because she’s living in a sorority house instead of the dorm. And technology fees were lower too.
- Book expenses were $400 cheaper this year than last. Lindsey rented a lot of her books this year, which may have accounted for the difference.
A couple of things were more expensive:
- The cost of her room was exactly the same as last year, but board was $1600 higher. That’s probably because last year there was a choice of meal plans in the dorm and we chose an inexpensive one. In the sorority, there’s one charge for everyone.
- Tuition costs were up a few hundred dollars, due to one of her scholarships being a freshman year scholarship only.
The Exact Breakdown
Tuition/Room & Board/Books: $10,824
- Room = $3350
- Tuition = $2980
- Board (Meal Plan) = $3800
- Books = $629
- Workshops/Conferences = $65
- Required Campus Fees = $858
- Technology Fees = $290
- Sports Combo Pass = $150
- Dues: $582
- Moms/Dads Weekends, Family Day, Initiation Luncheon, etc. = $467
What’s Not Included:
Spending money – Lindsey is responsible for her own spending money so I don’t have costs for things like eating out, snacks, toiletries, school supplies, clothing, laundry, gas, etc.
How to Pay Cash for College
If you’re planning to send a child to college and want to avoid student loans, here are the things that have been helpful to us so far:
- We chose an in-state school with low tuition costs. Our school – The University of Kansas – also offers a four year tuition compact so that we’re assured that tuition costs won’t rise during that time.
- Lindsey applied for and was offered academic scholarships, which brought the tuition costs down even more. She’s required to maintain a certain GPA in order to keep her main scholarship each year.
- Lindsey works during the summers and at times during the school year so that she can pay for incidentals. She’s also very frugal and a good steward of both her money and ours, which we appreciate.
- A couple of years before Lindsey started college, I started setting aside my earnings from freelance writing/blogging into a account earmarked for her college expenses. Even though the amounts I receive are often small, faithfully saving each one and getting a slight head start has paid for much of her college costs.
So that’s a real-life look at one family’s second-year college expenses. Anything surprise you? Where are you at in the college process?
Note: If you’d like to read more about the college experience from both a student’s and a parent’s perspective, Lindsey and I blog weekly at Twice the College Advice on the U.S.News & World Report website. We’d love to have you join us there.