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The hidden costs of college

Date posted:  10/3/16 09:20:00 AM College hidden costs

As they settle into college life, freshmen should take a moment to research all the costs related to earning a bachelor's degree.

The upfront costs of college are not always what they seem. Tuition, room and board, and meal plans are the three largest expenses when your first step foot on campus. But ask any upperclassman how much they truly paid every semester and you might be surprised about how many other costs you have to account for.

The fees
Every student has to pay fees every semester, and these will vary. Most schools have standard fees, such as technology access, activity fees and others, depending on your campus. Your membership to the student recreational facilities is also a typical charge, and at some schools, transportation may be included, which allows you to travel via bus simply by showing your student identification.

But things start to change depending on the program you're enrolled in. Engineering programs have their own set of fees that will be different than what someone who is in a literature program will have to pay.

Luckily, you can find out exactly what these fees are by visiting your program's website or by speaking with your advisor. Notably, the fees may sometimes be flexible. For example, schools often tack on student health insurance, The Simple Dollar stated. But you may find this particular expense unnecessary if you're already on your parent's insurance plan. With proof of current coverage, you will likely be able to request a waiver and receive a refund for those charges.

Going home
Whether you're attending your state's flagship campus or going out of state, you're going to visit home at some point, even if it's only for a weekend during the semester, as highlighted by NBC News.

The earlier you plan ahead, the better prepared you'll be, and tickets for a bus, train or a flight may be cheaper if purchased well enough in advance.

These are also expenses you have to account for that aren't highlighted by the school. If the prices are too expensive for a normal weekend, you might have to limit your travels back home to only the major holiday breaks, or see if you can carpool with someone headed the same direction to split the cost of gas.

Eating out
Freshmen are often required to live in dorms for their first year, but this doesn't mean you always have to eat the food found in the dining halls. While universities strive to provide enough options to cater to all tastes, you'll sometimes find yourself craving food from local restaurants. It also helps to have some easy access to food you can make quickly, such as soup, lunch meat and frozen meals.

However, you should try to limit the amounts of times you eat out because your income may be limited. Budget accordingly so you can enjoy non-dining hall food every once in a while.

As you settle into your freshman year of college, don't forget about some of the hidden expenses that will pop up throughout the semester.