10 Ways Colleges Trick You Into Spending More

College isn't cheap. In addition to the various costs for tuition, books and living expenses, there are also ways colleges trick you into spending more. Review this list to avoid these excessive costs.


Tricks Colleges Use That Cost You Money

Tuition is high. There are fees for lab usage and health and student services. Some of the items that appear on your bill may frustrate you, but until you fall into one of your college's money-traps, you don't know frustration. The following are tricks that colleges don't want you to know - tricks that eventually cost you more money.

1. In-State is Cheaper

This one isn't a secret, but it may not be known if you're relatively fresh in the college game. Also, many students don't know that if you live in a state for a certain amount of time prior to matriculation, you're considered a resident. So if you know someone who lives in the state where you want to attend college, consider living with them for six months. For the large sum of money you'll save, it'll be worth the hassle.

2. Uncommunicative Counselors

Freshmen are usually completely out of the loop when entering college. When you go for orientation, they'll hand you a large course catalog and you'll decide the classes you want to take your first semester. Some courses are required for first-years, but you'll likely have one or two electives to choose. Unfortunately, many counselors are not forthcoming with information - in fact, counselors may just be professors, not trained professionals dedicated to easing your transition.

Because of this, many students find themselves taking courses that interest them but that aren't related to their field. Sure, the psychology of personalities may sound interesting, but if you know you want to major in history it likely won't meet your course requirements. This sort of mess-up happens often, and it causes students to pay for an additional semester to make up wasted credits.

3. Alternating Course Offerings

Frustratingly, many colleges only offer courses every other semester - or worse, every other year. If you've looked through your course catalog and have decided the educational path you'll take, you're one step ahead of some others. But you could still register for a course only to find out that it's full and that you'll need to take it the next time around - when you're a junior. If you aren't accepted for the course that time, you'll need to find another course to replace it (better hope it isn't a requirement) or take an additional semester the fall after you're supposed to graduate. Plan your program path and stay on top of things so this won't happen to you!

4. Waitlisted

A waitlist is one of the worst things you can hear in college (besides the word 'fail'). Some colleges waitlist you for admission, which is a cruel way of saying 'you likely won't get in, so look elsewhere.' Of course, students are also waitlisted for courses. If that happens, a teacher might tell you to sit in so you don't fall behind if you can register at a later date. If you buy the books for this course to keep up with homework, you'll be disappointed when you're turned away.

You'll need to find another course (quickly!) so that you don't drop down to part-time status. You'll also need to buy additional books and supplies for the new course, and you may have ended up with a course you didn't want (see numbers two and three). If you do become a part-time student, financial aid may not cover you, and then you'll need to pay the school out-of-pocket.

5. Overlapping Course Times

Similar to alternating courses, overlapping course times affect the classes you need to register for. Unfortunately, some universities have departments that schedule many courses at the same time and on the same days, so you've got to decide if you want to sign up for, say, short story writing or poetry writing. Which will benefit your program more? Are either required? Which will be offered again quickly? If both courses are required and you need to wait until the next time they're offered, just consult the above number three.

6. Bookstore Accounts

All colleges have a bookstore that houses the texts you'll need for this semester. Besides books, you'll find supplies, clothes, school memorabilia, dorm decorations and food there. Some accounts are connected to your tuition and are covered by financial aid. With the ability to walk in and buy anything you want, you'll likely be adding on to those loans.

Also, many bookstores push course books on you so they can make a profit. They don't typically advertise going to Amazon.com or Half.com for your books, which can save you a lot of money. In fact, some bookstores don't even let you see the books you're buying - you just tell them your courses and they go into a back room to get your reading material. This ensures that you won't be able to peek at the edition or ISBN number so you can look online for cheaper options.

7. Endorsing Professors

Professors are required by colleges to take a sabbatical and do research in their field. Often, this research is published in journals or books. Professors love to have their egos stroked, and that's why they put their books on your syllabus. You need to get these books out of the bookstore, because some are self-published or bound by the professor. So while it might be cool to say that your English teacher is a published author, be prepared to buy his or her book for class.

8. Hidden Fees

With so many fees and high tuition costs, you would think that everything you'd need would be covered. The truth is that some colleges ask you to pay for a parking space for the entire year - even if you live on campus! While it may not seem like much, registration can add up over the course of four years (five if you've been caught by other traps).

Also, if you live on campus, most colleges ask that you put down a deposit for your keys. If you lose your dorm key, you lose the deposit. The library may also ask you to get a card to make copies. You'll need to put money on the card and pay per page. So just take the time to read books in the library, and don't waste the cash making copies. We know your dorm is more comfortable, but don't give your school the benefit.

9. Traditions

Schools have traditions that make the campus feel like a community. The problem with some of these traditions is the tradition itself! It's tradition for all students to wear a school shirt and scarf to the first home football game. So, if you want to be a part of the community, you'll need to buy a shirt and scarf from the bookstore to fit in. And don't forget a school ring - something you'll wear to job interviews, and then most likely never again. And these rings cost hundreds of dollars!

10. Required Study

Some, but not all, colleges require you to do something productive over your January recess. You may be forced to take a course on campus, intern, take a workshop, travel abroad or attend a lecture. Some of these options come with a price tag. Since you need to complete something each semester, you're likely to pay for such a program at least once.

Colleges are sneaky organizations. See what hidden costs colleges don't want you to know about!

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. Next »