Planning for College Expenses

By Laura M. Frey, LMFT, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Family Sciences, University of Kentucky and Jennifer Hunter, Ph.D., University of Kentucky Family Finance Extension Specialist

Roughly two-thirds of students enroll in college the fall after graduating from high school. For many of us, planning for college expenses often gets put on the back burner while trying to pay for other expenses that occur during high school.

As parents, we often have to pay for extracurricular activities, sports, or possibly a car when our teenagers begin driving. Managing these expenses means we often forget or simply do not have the resources to save for college.

Students may choose to apply to a wide range of colleges and universities. Some choose to attend smaller, community colleges while others choose liberal arts colleges or large universities. Students must also decide whether to enroll full-time or part-time. Regardless of which option a student chooses, one thing remains true: college is expensive. Preparing for college expenses can be stressful, and this stress can cause some students to feel as though they cannot afford to attend college. However, there are several steps you can take to estimate college expenses and develop a plan for how to pay for them.

How Much Will Your Teen Need?

The first step in estimating college expenses is to narrow down the possibilities of school choices. After making a list of places where your child wants to apply, consider the key factors that will influence the cost of each.

Develop a Plan for College Expenses

Additional Resources

Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education. (2014). Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2014). Fast facts: Back to school statistics.

U.S. Department of Education. (2014). Federal student aid: Frequently asked questions.