Beyond Tuition: The Cost of Student Living Today

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With the ever-increasing cost of college tuition, it’s interesting to see where students are spending their leftover cash (what little they may have). Here is a run-down of some things on your average student’s list.

How much is spent on discretionary items?
40% of the average student spends his or her budget on discretionary items such as:

  • 6.5% on entertainment
  • 6.5% on apparel & services
  • 4.7% on travel & vacation
  • 22% on other

26% of an average student’s budget goes towards room and board.

I hear books for classes cost an arm and a leg for college.  How much do students spend on those?
The average students pays only 4% of their budget on books and supplies.

What are some of the other things students will spend money on while in college?
On average, 19% of their budget goes toward tuition & fees, 3% on transportation and 8% on other things, such as health care.

What do some of those numbers mean in dollars?

  • $600 million in music sales
  • Over $800 million in movie tickets
  • $500 million in games
  • Nearly $11 billion in snacks & beverages
  • Nearly $1 billion in purchased & rented DVDs
  • Almost $6 billion in alcohol
  • Over $4 billion in clothing & shoes

For those that have jobs, what kind of money does the average student make while in college?
75% of students have jobs while in college.  On average they bring in about $750 per month from their jobs and get (on average) about $154 per month from mom and dad, which totals $9,588 per year.

On average, a college student will spend approximately $13,000 per year.

Do many students carry credit cards?

78% of students have one credit card.  32% have at least four (yikes!).  That means the average student has about 3 credit cards!

The average debt of a college student on their credit cards is $2,700.

Seeing that many of these costs come from movies, music and other things, what types of items do college students own?

  • 90% own a cellphone
  • 76% own a DVD player
  • 73% own a TV
  • 56% own a digital camera
  • 37% own an MP3 player

The average student spends $50 per month on beer! (For those long, studious nights.)

* These statistic do not include online education schools or students.

  • Giovanna

    My university has two built-in starbuckses in two different buildings. Personally, I spend a lot more money on coffee than beer. I don’t know if that speaks well or ill of me, but I’m doing something right. I graduate next May.
    There are credit card company reps that hang out on campus sometimes. They offer huge coupons for pizza if you sign up for ther credit card. It’s disgusting. I wonder if that happens all over the country.

  • Kristin

    I don’t remember spending more money on snacks and beverages than other discretionary items (15 years ago). Colleges must have built-in Starbucks these days.

  • Joseph

    Most computers now will play DVDs. Maybe the students counted that as their DVD player. Most television shows are available to watch on your computer now too, so TV is becoming less essential.

  • Cliff

    I’m more confused about how more students have a dvd player than a television. Do they take turns using each dvd player on a television?

  • sms

    I am so showing this to my students.

  • Craig

    $50 bucks a month on beer! I suddenly have a lot less sympathy for the ‘starving’ college student.

  • Hank

    The two highest spending areas 1) Snacks and beverages and 2) Alcohol. Sounds right. A bunch of overweight alcoholics!

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Financing Education, Infographics
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