Some college costs are not covered by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. They may not be on your radar screen unless you do some research first, so consider these costs as you plan your college budget.

The kids are growing up fast and are ready to graduate from high school and enter college. Being proactive, you as parents have done what you think is a good job of preparing your child for college financially. Between saving money and making a transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, you should be in good shape…or so you think.

But what many parents find out (and often too late) is that there are certain “hidden” costs of college that many not be as visible as they should be. These unprepared costs can raise havoc on a budget that may already have little room for error.

What the gi bill Pays

The new GI Bill has two different pay rates when it comes to tuition. At a public school, it can pay up to 100% of the in-state tuition rate. For attendance at a private or foreign school, it can pay up to $22,805.34 per year.

In both cases the Post 9/11 GI Bill also pays mandatory fees – fees applicable to all students But there is the catch, “applicable to all students”. As we see next, there can be a host of optional fees not applicable to all students and therefore the responsibility of the student to pay.

What It Doesn’t Pay  

What many parents find out is that optional fees can tack on as much as $250 to $500 per month in fees that are not covered by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. For example, the Parking Permit Fee at Ohio State University that costs $28.75 per month for non-garage parking for a commuter student; up to $64.04 per month for garage space for students living in student housing.

Or how about a Change of Schedule Fee at Baylor University – $40. The charge is applied to class changes made after the Drop Date. Another unanticipated fee, especially if using the Montgomery GI Bill, is a Credit Card Convenience Fee. While paying tuition and mandatory fees by credit card online is convenient, the University of Texas – Austin charges students 1.75% to pay online. On a $5,207 tuition rate per semester, that amounts to $91.12 or around $22.00 per month.

Studying abroad is another area that can add unexpected charges. While the customary charges are usually covered by the Post 9/11 GI Bill, some schools charge a Transfer Term Fee to transfer in credits from study abroad. For example, Dartmouth charges $2,200 to transfer in credits earned in a non-Dartmouth sponsored foreign study program.

And to make matters worse, some schools charge you to graduate! California State University charges a Diploma Application Fee of $47.00.

This is just a small sampling of fees charged by some schools. The point being, research your proposed school to see what “hidden” costs they may have that are not covered by either GI Bill.

And sometimes it can be a cost unrelated to the school itself. For example, that $4.00 per day cup of latte easily turns into a $120 per month expense. Teaching kids how to manage money and budget expenses is a life hack that will serve them well when they are out on their own … and it is one not taught in school.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.