6 Common Financial Surprises in College and How to Deal with Them

College is often seen as a one-way ticket to success, but it comes with its fair share of financial surprises. From unexpected expenses to rising costs, managing your finances in college can be challenging.

In this article, we will explore six common financial surprises that many students face and provide practical solutions to help you navigate these challenges.

1. Paying for an Internship

One of the most unexpected financial surprises in college is the need to pay for an internship. Many degree programs require students to complete internships for credit, but unfortunately, not all internships offer a stipend or pay well. This can be especially daunting for students who are already struggling to cover their educational expenses.

Solution: To tackle this situation, it’s important to prioritize your expenditures and develop basic budgeting strategies. Consider eliminating unnecessary expenses and focus on essential costs like tuition, housing, and transportation.

Additionally, you can dip into your savings if you have one or explore part-time job opportunities to supplement your income. Remember, the valuable experience gained from an internship can pay off in the long run.

2. Having to Unexpectedly Buy a Car

Living off-campus or in a city away from your campus can often make owning a car a necessity. However, unexpected car expenses can put a strain on your finances, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

Solution: When faced with the need for a car, do thorough research to find the most cost-effective options. Opt for affordable car insurance that suits your needs, and consider purchasing a reliable used car instead of a brand new one.

Buying a used car can save you money on both the purchase price and potential insurance costs. By making informed decisions, you can find a vehicle that meets your transportation needs without breaking the bank.

3. Paying for Parking

Finding parking on college campuses can be challenging, and some universities charge exorbitant prices for parking permits. This can put a strain on your budget, leaving you feeling frustrated and financially burdened.

Solution: Explore alternative parking options to save money. Some parking apps, like Parkmobile and Spothero, can help you find cheaper parking lots near your campus. Additionally, consider renting parking spots from homeowners near your college through services like AirGarage.

These options can provide affordable alternatives to expensive on-campus parking, allowing you to save money while still having convenient access to campus facilities.

4. Dealing with Car Troubles and Parking Tickets

Car troubles and parking tickets can quickly eat into your college budget, leaving you with unexpected expenses and financial stress.

Solution: The best way to avoid car troubles and parking tickets is to respect the rules and guidelines in place. Be mindful of parking regulations and always ensure you have enough time on the meter. If you do find yourself facing multiple parking tickets, consider appealing to the authorities or seeking legal advice.

Investing in alternative modes of transportation like biking or using public transportation can also help you avoid these financial surprises altogether.

5. Dealing with Roommate Issues

Living off-campus often means sharing apartments or houses with roommates. While having a roommate can help reduce living expenses, unforeseen circumstances can lead to financial strain.

Solution: In situations where you have roommates who are not fulfilling their responsibilities or causing financial troubles, it’s important to have open and honest communication. Sit down with your roommate and discuss the consequences of their actions.

Encourage them to find a job or contribute to shared expenses. This conversation might help them understand the impact of their behavior and work towards finding a solution together.

6. Paying for Textbooks and Supplies

The cost of textbooks and required supplies can add up quickly, leaving many students feeling frustrated and cheated.

Solution: Research the required textbooks and supplies for each class before the semester starts. Look for alternative options like purchasing used textbooks, renting them, or accessing free online resources.

Many textbooks can be found on platforms like Amazon, Chegg, or even in PDF or ebook formats for free online. By being proactive and exploring all available options, you can significantly reduce the financial burden of purchasing new textbooks.

Also read: How to Make the Most of Your College Financial Aid Refund

How to Make the Most of Your College Financial Aid Refund


In conclusion, college life is full of financial surprises, but with careful planning, budgeting, and exploring alternative options, you can navigate these challenges successfully. Remember to prioritize your expenses, communicate openly with roommates, and make informed choices when it comes to big-ticket items like cars and internships.

By taking control of your finances, you can focus on your education and make the most of your college experience without being blindsided by unexpected financial struggles.

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