When checking out the cost of colleges your student may attend, you’ll find their tuition and fee charges on their websites. But understand that these charges only include fees required of all undergraduates.
Students are also subject to other fees — sometimes labeled “discretionary” or “optional” — that can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. These are “hidden” fees because schools typically don’t include them in their published cost of attendance.
Some hidden fees aren’t really optional. For example, most schools charge for summer orientation sessions to help incoming students get familiar with campus, it’s organizations, and it’s services. But orientation is often when students get their initial academic advising and schedule their first semester classes, too, do missing it may not be advisable.
Similarly, some courses required by your student’s major may have computer fees, course fees, course materials fees, or lab fees.
Still, it’s easy to avoid other optional fees. If your student isn’t interested in intercollegiate athletics, don’t pay athletics or sports ticket fees. If your student doesn’t absolutely need a car on campus, keep it at home — you’ll be surprised how many hundred dollars in parking fees (and how much gas, maintenance, and body damage) this can save each semester.
So research hidden fees. Search the school’s website for terms such as those listed at the end of this article. Call the admissions or business office and request lists of optional fees. Inquire with others attending the school about fees that surprised them.
Maybe you can’t avoid all hidden fees. But the more you know the better you can include them when analyzing college affordability, and the better you can budget for and plan strategies to minimize them.
College Affordability Solutions can help you analyze the affordability of colleges your student is considering. Contact (512) 366-5354 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes Hidden College Fees
- Academic excellence fees
- Activities fees
- Add or drop fees
- Application processing fees
- Athletic or sport ticket fees
- Building use fees
- Change of schedule fees
- Chapel fees (private, church-affiliated colleges)
- Commencement or graduation fees
- Computer or digital media fees
- Course fees
- Course materials fees
- Convenience or credit card fees
- Digital media fees
- Diploma fees
- General student fees
- Health center of health service fees
- Health insurance premiums
- ID card replacement fees
- Lab fees
- Late registration fees
- Late payment fees
- Library fees
- Legal services fees
- Library fees
- Intercollegiate athletics fees
- Internet or telecommunication fees
- Matriculation fees
- Orientation fees
- Parking fees
- Recreation center fees
- Shuttle bus fees
- Student success fees
- Student government fees
- Student services fees
- Study abroad fees
- Transportation fees
- Yearbook fees