Aug 17, 2017

College Costs During and After Graduation

By Jarrod Upton

We all know that the price of a college education continues to climb. On average, college costs have increased 6% annually year-over-year so that today, according to collegedata.com, annual tuition costs have reached the following thresholds:

  • Private colleges and universities - $33,480
  • Public colleges and universities (in-state) - $9,650
  • Public colleges and universities (out-of-state) - $24,930

And that’s just the average cost of tuition. It doesn’t include room and board, textbooks, meals, travel, transportation and recreational expenses.

Travel expenses can be especially burdensome, depending on the location of the student’s home and how involved family members are in the student’s college life. Travel back and forth for holidays and summer vacations; parental trips to campus for visits; in-person support of student achievements and extra-curricular activities; and attending graduation ceremonies – all of these costs need to be accounted for when a decision is made about which college to attend.

In addition, as a student nears graduation, there are also costs associated with looking for a post-college job. Some students might travel to recruiting events in the area or they might attend corporate-sponsored industry conferences. Also, it might be necessary to invest in proper business attire for interviewing purposes.

Needless to say, pursuing a four-year college degree is very expensive and paying for it is typically accomplished in several different ways – parental financial support, college scholarships, financial aid, work-study programs and student loans – or some combination of all.

For those students who have parents that are able and willing to fully pay for their college education, they are indeed fortunate. They are able to begin their post-college lives without the crushing burden of student debt.

According to Student Loan Hero, the average college graduate in 2016 left school with a debt of $37,172, a staggering number which will impact and influence their life choices for many years to come.

Post-college Expenses

Once a student graduates from college and hopefully lands a job in their profession of choice, the necessity to assume real-world responsibilities can quickly ensue. Typically, a young person fresh out of college will – perhaps for the first time – set up their own household and be responsible for all the expenses it takes to manage that – rent, utilities, insurance, furniture, auto expenses, cell phone bills, etc. And six months after graduation, young people with student loans will have to begin to pay them back (on average, $135.00 dollars per month for every 10,000 dollars owed).

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In addition, a young person starting out in their first job will have to make a decision regarding participation in a 401(k) plan or other savings plans. Often, retirement plans and savings accounts are the furthest thing from a young person’s mind but it is very much in their best interest to participate in these kinds of programs as early as possible in their career.

To help recent graduates with their financial matters, CollegeBoard offers a helpful budget worksheet that young people can use to plan for and track their expenses. And there’s also a great blog created exclusively for recent college graduates called aftercollege, which is a terrific resource for all kinds of issues that newly-graduated young people face.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

We live in a complex, complicated world and one of the best ways to successfully manage your life is to plan effectively for it. One of my Dad’s favorite expressions was, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. I think he was right about that.

Most colleges and universities have a Career Center which offers career guidance to their students but they also offer real-life skills development so young people are prepared to meet all the challenges that are waiting for them after graduation. One of those skills is learning how to construct and adhere to a monthly budget.

I would recommend to all college juniors and seniors to spend some time at their Career Center and take advantage of all the post-college programs that are available to them. It would be time well spent to prepare for their coming future lives.

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