A look at one family’s first three years of college expenses

by Grace

The Family CEO shared details of paying for her daughter’s first three years of college.  This breakdown offers insight into how many families are managing to send their kids to college without going broke.  In this case, Julie Mayfield’s daughter is attending the “University of Kansas, an in-state school with affordable costs”.


Tuition/Room & Board/Books: $10,143

  • Tuition = $3059*
  • Room = $2950
  • Board (Meal Plan) = $3800
  • Books = $334

*After scholarships

Fees: $1328

  • Required Campus Fees = $888
  • Technology Fees = $290
  • Sports Combo Pass = $150

Sorority: $2465

  • Dues & House Maintenance: $1032
  • Moms/Dads Weekends, Flowers, Musical Production = $1433

Total: $13,936

What’s Not Included:

Spending money – Lindsey is responsible for her own spending money so I don’t have costs for things like eating out, snacks, toiletries, school supplies, clothing, laundry, gas, etc.


  • Freshman year: $17,435
  • Sophomore year: $13,171
  • Junior year: $13,936
  • Total: $44,542

The first year involved some “start-up costs”, including a printer and dorm furnishings.  Go to Julie’s blog for more details, including itemized expenses for the first two years of college.

Related:  Average amount of parents’ contribution to college is about $10,000 (Cost of College)


4 Comments to “A look at one family’s first three years of college expenses”

  1. Wow, I had no idea it costs that much to be in a sorority! In this kid’s case, it is far more than books.


  2. Yes, almost 18% of her junior year costs were for her sorority, and might actually be even higher– it is mentioned that during her sophomore year, she lost a lower priced meal plan option because of her move to a sorority house. If the same premium is figured in for her junior year, that puts the sorority costs at over 29%.

    The clear takeaway is to carefully consider the costs of joining a sorority or fraternity.


  3. Living in the sorority house does not sound like an outrageous expense on those grounds:

    Dorm room and board at a private school with low-end dorms (Harvey Mudd) is almost 24% of total costs.
    At a public school (UCSC) room and board are 44% of total costs for on-campus students and 35% of total costs for off-campus students. At San Jose State, on-campus room and board comes to 51% of total costs (and 52% for off-campus).

    Of course, if the sorority costs are not including room and board, then 18% of costs just for a social club seems high.


  4. I suspect there are other sorority-related costs – clothing, social events, gifts, etc. – not included in the break-out. Sorority members have to “keep up” with a certain lifestyle, IME. Of course, some girls are already living this lifestyle and so it would make no difference if they joined a sorority or not.


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