As a first-generation college student, you may think that tuition and room and board are the only expenses you have to worry about. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Several unexpected expenses come with college life, and as someone who is paving the way for your family, these can be especially overwhelming. In this post, we'll take a closer look at some of these unexpected expenses and offer tips for managing them.
Laundry: Students living on campus often have to pay for laundry services, which can add up over time. As a student living on campus, the last thing you want to worry about is how much it's going to cost you to wash and dry your clothes. But unfortunately, many universities charge for laundry services, which can add up over time. So it is important to calculate this expense as you are planning.
Late-night snacks: During late-night study sessions or while studying with friends, you may find yourself needing to purchase food or drinks, which can also become an unexpected expense. Late-night study sessions are practically a rite of passage for all college students. During these times, your body needs to fuel up, and typically, the meal plan does not include accommodations for this. Try to budget for this ahead of time.
Traveling home: Traveling home for holidays or breaks can be a real hassle. Not only do you have to say goodbye to your college friends and the freedom of campus life, but you also have to deal with the logistics of getting home. This is especially true if you're one of those students who live far away from campus. Depending on how often you want to come home, traveling home for holidays or breaks can be costly.
Textbooks and Supplies: Despite having a scholarship, the costs of textbooks and supplies can still put a strain on one's budget. This is especially true if you take multiple courses, as professors often require multiple books per subject. It is important to be aware of the additional costs associated with textbooks and supplies.
Technology: Laptops are often students' primary tools to complete assignments, write papers, and conduct research. While some students may be able to use computers provided by their schools, others may need to purchase their own. The cost of a laptop can range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand, depending on the brand, specifications, and features. In addition to the cost of the laptop itself, students may also need to purchase software, which can add to the overall cost.
It is important to note that students who are pursuing majors that require more specialized software, such as engineering or graphic design, may need to invest in even more expensive software or equipment. For example, an engineering student may need to purchase a computer with a powerful processor or graphics card to run specialized engineering software, which can cost thousands of dollars.
Organization and activity fees: As a college student, you are encouraged to join clubs and organizations that align with your interests to form bonds with like-minded peers. However, many of these extracurricular activities come at a cost, with students required to pay dues or fees that accumulate overtime.
Create a budget: Create a budget that includes all your expenses, not just tuition and books. This will help you see where your money is going and where you need to cut back.
Utilize resources on campus: Consider taking advantage of student-specific coupons and discounts through the student union or student activity center. These discounts can be applied to laundry services, food purchases, and other items that may have otherwise seemed unaffordable. Many universities offer special grants and scholarships for first-generation students to help cover these unexpected costs.
Secure a part-time jobs: Many college students work part-time jobs to help cover their expenses. Try looking for part-time jobs on or near campus that fit your busy schedules. Ensure your employer supports your academic endeavors and is flexible with your demanding schedule.
Look for other creative ways to save money: There are many ways to save money in college, such as buying used textbooks. Find other students that live close to your hometown and see if they are willing to carpool when you want to travel home for the holidays. Instead of buying books, consider renting them or buying them used instead of purchasing them new.
Seek out mentors: Seek out mentors who can offer guidance and support. This could be a professor, advisor, or even a peer who has been through similar experiences.
Connect with other first-gen college students: Embrace the power of community by connecting with other first-generation students! At times, college can feel overwhelming, and navigating it alone can be daunting. However, by seeking out and forming connections with fellow first-gen students, you're building a supportive network that can help you successfully navigate through your college journey. These individuals share similar experiences and understand the unique challenges that come with being the first in their family to attend college. Together, you can collaborate and share valuable insights to find innovative solutions that work best for you. Remember, you are not alone on this journey!
Whatever you do don’t get discouraged. By using these tips and building a supportive network, you will be able to navigate through college with greater ease and confidence. Remember, you are not alone on this journey! Seek out those who share your experiences and work together to overcome any hurdles. Together, you can achieve great things and make your dreams a reality. Good luck on your college journey!
Want to help a deserving first generation absorb some of the unexpected costs of attending college? Consider donating to the CEON Foundation.