(BPT) - If your son or daughter is a high school senior this year, you're probably in the midst of applying to colleges right now. There’s a lot for everyone to think about — where to apply, the steps involved in the application process and of course, the finances.
This year things are certainly more challenging. A recent College Ave Student Loans survey conducted by Barnes and Noble College Insights looked at how the pandemic has changed the approaches most families are taking to paying for college. Over half of the survey respondents (56%) reported that their finances have been negatively affected, with 58% of those families using their savings more than expected, 43% putting off big purchases and 29% leaning on credit cards. Financial setbacks like job loss have caused many families to seek alternatives to help pay for college costs.
While you’re planning for your child’s education, it’s important to figure these additional costs into your overall financial picture. Paying for college is not just about tuition, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for additional expenses — and know your options for reducing those costs or covering them.
1) Room and board
Paying for a dorm room and meal plan is a big part of student expenses. For freshman year, some schools don't allow students to live off-campus. Make sure to find out the rules for schools your son or daughter is applying to and discuss your family’s preferences.
Some students may choose to live off-campus and rent an apartment. Depending on the proximity to campus and the area, it can still be costly.
If room and board or off-campus housing isn’t covered by financial aid, those costs can be covered with student loan funds. And some students save money their first year or two by enrolling in a local college or university and living at home.
2) Textbooks and supplies
Books and supplies can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year depending on your area of study. You can use student loans to help cover the purchase of a computer, books, required class supplies and school-related fees.
Research ways to save on books. Most schools offer used textbooks as an option in their college bookstores, or you can often find used textbooks online. In some cases, you can rent expensive textbooks. In many cases, e-books are much more affordable than actual textbooks.
Consider the costs to commute to school every day — parking, gas or public transportation. Don’t forget to factor in any trips home throughout the year that might require a train or airfare.
It's essential to know the full cost of attending college when your family is making plans together. Adding these further costs to tuition, you may find that the grants or scholarships your child is offered, on top of federal student loans or work-study options they may be eligible for, will not cover everything for the school year. Unexpected expenses can also come up, such as unanticipated fees or supplies, or a roommate bailing on a shared apartment.
If your son or daughter needs additional funds, one option is getting a private student loan through College Ave, which offers competitive rates and a three-minute application. Families have choices about when to start making payments and how long to take to pay back the loan, making it easy for them to balance a monthly budget while minimizing the total cost.
To see how much your monthly bills could be upon graduation, explore tools like the College Ave student loan calculator to make sure the loan amount fits your family’s monthly budget.