School Smarts: Five hidden costs of sending your kids to colleg - WDRB 41 Louisville News

School Smarts: Five hidden costs of sending your kids to college

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Sending a child to college is expensive. But there are many unexpected expenses beyond tuition, room and board that can blow your budget.  Financial expert Mark Lamkin from Lamkin Wealth Management 

1. Joining a Greek Organization 

Many club memberships require fees or additional expenses, and Greek life tends to be the most expensive, says Melanie Payne, director of new-student orientation at Indiana University.

For example, at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., where 51% of all students are in the Greek system, new member dues (money you pay the first semester you join the chapter) for sororities range from $335 to $647, depending on the chapter.  At the University of Michigan, a larger public college, dues for the first semester of sorority membership range from $220 (an un-housed chapter) to $1,753 (a housed, on-campus sorority).  For fraternities at small private school Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., new members pay an average of $1,567.  The new-member fees do not include housing.

In subsequent semesters, active members will generally pay even more.  At Indiana University in 2012, the average paid for per-semester dues by fraternity members who didn't live in a chapter house was $1,000.  Members who lived in chapter houses paid, on average, $5,200 per semester. (Think of living in the chapter house as room and board, including meals.  At some schools such as the University of Missouri, where renewing sorority members pay an average $4,003 per semester to live in a chapter house, that's sometimes cheaper than living and eating in the dorms.)

Ask the campus's Greek-life coordinators to give you a specific rundown of fraternity and sorority fees to flesh out your budget.  Chapters without houses may be significantly less expensive; dues are generally $200-$300 per semester.  And many Greek chapters have scholarship programs and payment plans for their members, so you may not have to pay the fees all at once.

2. Homesick

How many times each year will your child return home from college?  The average student typically goes home at least twice a year (during winter and summer breaks).  And many students choose to go home four times a year -summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break.

Depending on the distance a student's school is from home, the cost of transportation can be high. If a student has to fly cross-country, each trip home could add hundreds of dollars to a student's budget. In total, these costs easily can exceed $1,000, especially if high-priced luggage fees are included. But even students who attend school closer to home face some travel costs. Traveling by car still adds to a student's overall cost.  

3. Big Games

At many schools, attending on-campus football and basketball games is an important part of the college experience -and maybe even a reason why your son or daughter chose to attend a particular college.

Students generally get a large discount; still season tickets for popular sports teams in football alone can range from $72 to $245.  If your child's school is a powerhouse at a popular sport, expect tickets to be more expensive.

4. Student Clubs

 Student-run club sports programs, which are not affiliated with the NCAA, are popular social endeavors that enable your student to travel to and compete against club teams at other colleges. Dues can run as much as $2,500 per year, according to the Texas A&M Department of Recreational Sports. Club sports with large equipment and field rental costs, such as rowing and hockey, often have the highest fees, but even club soccer and tennis require financial commitments. Tennis on Campus, the governing organization of college tennis clubs, recommends dues of $183 for a four-month semester, or $366 per year. A portion of these costs usually goes toward travel expenses, such as food and hotels, for tournaments.

Other student organizations -- from debate clubs to advertising clubs and so on -- likely will cost less. For instance, at the College of William and Mary, the ballroom dance club costs $15 to $25 per semester. At the University of Wisconsin, dues for the speech team are $50 per semester.

5. Health Insurance

College students, already absorbing tuition bills that are rising faster than inflation, are increasingly facing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in extra and unexpected health insurance costs and medical bills.

The reason: Most campus health centers have not registered as "in network" for the biggest regional health insurers. That means students covered by their family's plan typically can't get reimbursed for many tests and procedures performed by campus health clinics.

In addition, a growing number of colleges are heavily promoting school-sponsored plans, which range in price from a few hundred dollars at Brigham Young University to as much as $2,500 a year at schools such as Brown University. While some plans are generous, others offer comparatively anemic coverage to the students but healthy profits to either the insurance company or the college. And increasingly, schools are automatically charging students for the campus plan unless they provide proof of other coverage each year. A few colleges are even requiring all students-including those who are already covered-to buy school-sponsored policies. Typically, students can't shop for better deals because the colleges approve only one plan.

The conflict adds up to big bucks, since young people generally spend $2,000 to $3,000 a year on health costs, creating a market worth billions.

Lamkin Wealth Management
5151 Jefferson Blvd., Suite 102
901 Lily Creek Drive Ste. 102
office: 502-961-6550 Office 
toll free: 866-961-6550
Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member SIPC ( For a list of states where Mark is registered to conduct business please visit 

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