Budgeting for College? Leave Room for Extras

April 18, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — Before sending her daughter off to college in Virginia, Sharon Pohlmann knew she’d have to budget for flights between Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond. But the $60 taxi rides to and from the airport were an unavoidable surprise.  Her daughter would wear a University of Richmond sweatshirt on the plane in hopes of finding someone to split the cost of a taxi ride back to school, Ms. Pohlmann says. It worked sometimes.  Her annual college-related travel expenses: about $1,600, $400 of it for cab fare. When it comes to paying for college, tuition and room and board are just the beginning. To set a realistic budget, parents need to account for a host of miscellaneous expenses — and leave some room for the unexpected.  There’s travel, transportation, supplies beyond books and lab fees, parking permits, laundry and midnight food runs, just to name a few. You can easily expect to spend an additional 5% to 10% of the college sticker price a year, experts say.

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