Hidden College Expenses and How to Budget

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Attending a four-year public college as an in-state student can cost around $20,000 and twice that amount for a private institution. Certified Financial Planner Kimberly Foss is talking with Paul and Bethany about ways to budget to make life much easier.

  • Prepare for four years but plan for five years of costs -- Many schools front-load financial aid packages, meaning that they offer their best packages to freshman, and often scale back the packages in future years or shift the mix of aid from grants to loans, which need to be paid back. About 55 percent take 5 years to finish their degree, and 40 percent still haven't graduated after six years of school.
  • Health insurance and penalties -- All college students must have health insurance or pay an Obamacare penalty. There are several options available, including buying a plan through school, staying on parents' plan, or buying a plan on your own via the Obamacare marketplaces.
  • Cost of living factor  --  All schools must factor the cost of living into the net price calculators used to determine your financial aid, and used by many families in planning for college.