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The Hidden Costs of College

Paying for college may be one of the biggest causes of financial stress in your adult life. Even when you’re just considering where to apply, the cost of tuition could be a determining factor. Maybe you get financial aid, or decide that you can make it work, and attend the college that you want to most despite the financial burden you know it will place on you. Here are a few expenses you may not have thought to prepare for before attending a university like BU.

Making friends in college as a freshman is more difficult than anyone would like to admit. So, when social opportunities arise, it makes sense to want to go to every possible one you can. When girls are going out to dinner or getting their nails done, of course you want to join them and meet new people. At city universities like BU, the restaurants in the area are expensive, but you feel like you have to attend in order to make friends. And sometimes, that’s true. Especially if it’s the first time you’re meeting these girls outside of class. But, eating at restaurants while still paying for a $5,000 meal plan adds up.

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Student clubs also have hidden fees. Most clubs offered at BU require dues in order to be part of them. Sororities are known for the expensive costs of participation, but even other organizations will have a set fee to join, or additional fees to be able to participate in certain activities. For example, I was on a sports club team at the university I transferred from and I had to pay for my uniform, field time, to be a registered member of the sport, etc., and I did not know about these costs before joining the team. Someone at BU told me that she had to quit her club because she could not afford the additional costs that the club was not upfront about.

Hidden within both activities for pleasure and school is the cost of transportation. Yes, we have access to the T, but most students opt to Uber because of the convenience and the feeling that it’s safer. Ubering to different places in the city can definitely add up when you’re not paying attention to it. Speaking of transportation, depending on how far your college is from your hometown it could increase the financial burden due to the need for buses, trains, or flights home.

Credit: Google Images 

So, what should you do? Maybe you can start suggesting activities with lower price tags or staying in once in a while. Maybe you can try to apply for scholarships to the clubs you want to join. Becoming aware of these hidden costs is the first step to planning for them. If you know that any of these could potentially be an issue, you can start budgeting early. It’s okay to suggest eating in the dining hall! Do not let financial stress hold you back from having fun or attending the college that you really want. It is hard to manage money, especially in your first year of college, but it will help you in the long run.

College is four years of prioritizing fun over responsibility, pace yourself!

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Meaghan Merriman is a junior studying Behavior & Health in Sargent College at Boston University. She is an Event Coordinator for CHAARG and a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority.
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