Back to school: Breaking down the cost of it all


If you’re thinking of going back to school, you’ll need to project costs in five areas:

1. Tuition and fees.
Generally, these are charged at either a flat, full-time rate or a per-credit rate for part-timers. Public institutions have different rates for residents and non-residents, so consider staying local.

2. Living expenses.
If you’re going to stay in your current home, you should have a good idea what you’re paying. If you’re going to live on campus, room and board charges can vary widely based on room type and meal plan.

3. Books and supplies.
In addition to budgeting for books, think about equipment needs. Is your current computer going to meet your needs, or is it time to upgrade?

4. Transportation.
If you’re going to commute by car, remember to calculate  parking costs in addition to gas and mileage. SEPTA has special rates for students at Temple, Drexel and Penn; but even if you’re going to a different school, a weekly or monthly SEPTA pass might make sense. Students living on campus need to budget in traveling home for weekends and breaks.

5. Miscellaneous.

Cell phone, laundry, cable/Wi-Fi, entertainment, etc. Some of these are fixed costs, but you can save on others with student discounts. Check for coupons and a calendar of events.     


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