The 5 Costs I Didn’t Expect When My Son Went Off to College

Find out the hidden costs of putting your kid through school.

My son graduates from college this May. As that time draws closer, I’m prompted to think about all the costs that my husband and I were not expecting when he first started. Looking back, I wish that someone would have let me know to add these expenses to our budget.

I’m excited about his next steps in life, but I don’t want anyone else to be caught off guard by unforeseen costs. Here are a few expenses that are worth looking into when it’s your son or daughter’s time to go off to college.

Read More: Why I Ignored My Son’s College Dorm Room Checklist

Fraternity or Sorority Dues

My husband and I weren’t fully aware that our son would like to join a fraternity, but as time progressed, he displayed an interest in doing so. As someone who’s also a member of a sorority, I knew there would be fees associated with the process. Something parents might want to consider is opening the lines of communication to determine if their son or daughter has an interest in joining a fraternity or sorority so they can better anticipate the costs.

Organization and Club Dues

Not only did my son join a fraternity, but he also joined both business and psychology clubs. It’s important for you to talk with your future college student to determine if they have a specific interest that would lead them to join a club or organization. I loved these organizations because they ensured my son would be productive outside of his studies while connecting with like-minded peers.

More on School Costs: From Elementary to College: Average Cost of Education in Every State

Toiletries and Other Everyday Needs

My husband and I were also shocked that paper towels and toilet tissue were not included in dorm expenses. It’s easy to forget how those everyday items add up over time. We ended up spending $1,500 on his toiletries alone. A budget of $125 per month should cover those everyday expenses.

Tools and Systems for Specific Courses

Even with tuition paid, there were many times my son had to buy the accompanying book for his class. If it’s possible, buy an older edition from someone who has already taken the class to save money. Depending on your son or daughter’s major, there could be certain books, software and supplies that are not included in tuition that they are responsible for. The price tag for us was about $850 annually.

Related: How One Mom Saved When Touring College Campuses With Her Kids

Parking Fees

Our son couldn’t have a vehicle on campus during his freshman year, but after that period, he was eager to have accessibility to his car. Parking, however, comes with fees. Each school has specific policies on whether freshman can have cars on campus. If they live off campus, there are often specific permits to address those situations. Parking fees and policies will vary from school to school, so research will be necessary.

When my son went off to college, it was not only a huge step for him but an adjustment for my husband and me. Him living away from home and learning how to navigate life on his own terms was a time full of learning opportunities and triumphs. Although the fees mentioned above aren’t exactly great news, it’s better to be prepared. You want your son or daughter to have a full college experience where they participate in activities that reveal their passion and purpose. My son made some great friends and valuable connections in college. I can honestly say it was more than worth it.

Click through to read more about whether or not you make enough to put your kid through college.