Figuring out tuition and dorm costs is fairly straightforward, but when it comes to budgeting personal expenses, most new college families are at a bit of a loss. How much does a typical freshman spend per month?
The answer, of course, is ... it depends. It depends on the kid, the city, the climate, the lifestyle he or she is used to, and whether or not your new freshman signed up for a full meal plan or a minimal one.
Some colleges publish estimates for what their students will spend on personal expenses in the coming year, not including books, lab fees and other non-tuition expenses. But as you'll see in a moment, those numbers are all over the map - and some are wildly optimistic. The University of Idaho and Missouri figures are considerably more realistic than UC Davis' lowball estimate, but again, it all depends on the individual.
Personal Expense Estimates by College
- University of Idaho: $3,006 per academic year, or $334 per month
- University of Missouri: $3,156 or $351 per month
- Amherst: $1,800 or $200 per month
- University of California, Davis: $1,226 or $136 per month
- Purdue: $1,560 or $173 per month
- Georgia Tech: $1,600 or $178 per month
- UC Los Angeles: $1,683 or $187 per month
- Cal State Chico: $2,748 or $305 per month