Harper College

It Cost More Than Just Tuition

Remember that tuition is only part of the cost of going to college. Students who attend a community college can probably live at home while they are attending school. Students who attend a four-year college or university may need to pay living expenses.

Five main categories of expenses influence how much your college education is really going to cost: tuition and fees**, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses and transportation. Knowing how much you’ll need for these expenses makes it easier to create a realistic college budget.

Tuition and fees** are the price you pay for taking classes at your college. This amount can change based on your academic program, the number of credit hours you take and whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. Or, in the case of community colleges in Illinois, whether you qualify for in-district or out-of-district rates.

Colleges usually offer a variety of residential options and meal plans. The charges vary depending on what plan you choose. If you decide to live at home or off-campus, you’ll have your own rent and meal costs to consider in your college costs.

You’ll need books and other course materials. The yearly books and supplies estimate for the average student at a four-year public college is about $1,298. You may be able to lower these costs by buying used textbooks or renting them.

These include laundry, cell phone bills, eating out, and anything else you normally spend money on. Figure out what you spend and add that amount to your budget.

Whether you commute to campus or take the occasional trip home, you’ll have transportation costs. Of course, these will vary depending on how you travel and how often. You may be able to find student discounts on travel costs. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of gas if you own a car.

*Source: The College Board, “Quick Guide: College Costs” https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costs/quick-guide-college-costs

**Cost of Attendance Information

Last Updated: 12/14/23