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College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:49 am
by Hillview
We are doing some longer term planning for college and I am trying to think of what expenses are that are not covered by 529. Here is my short list (to be clear I don't plan to afford all of this but just working to develop a list).
- Travel to and from
- Dorm room decor or apartment furnishings
- Utilities if living off campus
- Cell phone
- Heath insurance of child
- Car/car insurance
-

If you have a child in college who is not living at home what are monthly costs looking like? Thanks!

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:56 am
by livesoft
Monthly costs are looking like $950 for 10 months of the year.

Since high school students already have cell phones, health insurance, car insurance, but no car, I do not include these as college costs. Travel to/from is limited and say $50 for anything within 600 miles.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:02 am
by oldfatguy
Hillview wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:49 am

- Travel to and from
- Dorm room decor or apartment furnishings
- Utilities if living off campus
- Cell phone
- Heath insurance of child
- Car/car insurance
These seem like living expenses occurred by just about everyone, whether in college or not.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:09 am
by soccerrules
Hill-
I am currently smack dab in the middle of 12 years of college tuition. 6 done, 6 to go.
I think your list looks OK, although I would question Utilities. If you can cover Room and Board, I would think Utilities is included as part of that, but I have not researched it that closely.

In Texas I am spending about $900-1000 a month for Apartment, Utilities (Elec, Cable/Internet, Water), and Food Allowance. This does not include books, gas, auto insurance, apt furnishings.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:12 am
by mt
I see the first item on your list is travel to/from school. I totally underestimated the cost of flying two kids to other states. Obviously if your kids go to college within driving distance this will be much less.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:29 am
by NextMil
Thanks. I had not given this any thought, but I still have better than a decade to worry about it. If some are estimating close to $10k a year, do you just over fund 529 or use another vehicle? I am a big planner.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:12 am
by livesoft
No, we didn't overfund a 529 plan because other options were much better for us.

We pay for college with money from 529 plans, taxable investments, salaries, cashback on credit cards, student jobs, Federal education tax credits, but not from loans nor from scholarships.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the 529 plan money is not the best method financially for us. OTOH, no one single method will cover all expenses for us.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:18 am
by miamivice
I would think that having a student responsible for his/her own cell phone bill after high school graduation would be a good start on the march toward financial independence from parents. Offhand I'm not seeing exactly why a parent would need to fund a college student's cell phone bill....

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:26 am
by Spirit Rider
Utilities are certainly qualified education expenses as long as the total with rent (excluding internet services) is <= the room allowance under the school's cost of attendance. Internet services qualify on their own.

Unfortunately, most schools use their dorm costs as the basis for the room allowance instead of the local housing market. If the school is in a HCOL area you may find the rent alone exceeds this

You may make it back in that off campus food costs can be well below the college required meal plans for dorm residents that usually forms the basis for the board allowance. Therefore, some of the room and board costs are not qualified education expenses. They must be funded from elsewhere.

In my case my youngest girl's school is in N VA just outside of DC. Even with a roommate and food costs about 1/2 of the minimum dorm required meal plan, total room and board exceeds the school's allowance.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:29 am
by masteraleph
miamivice wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:18 am
I would think that having a student responsible for his/her own cell phone bill after high school graduation would be a good start on the march toward financial independence from parents. Offhand I'm not seeing exactly why a parent would need to fund a college student's cell phone bill....
It's usually cheaper to have an extra line on a family plan, even with a little extra data, than it is to have an individual plan.

As for other items from the original post:

Health insurance may or may not be an extra cost. If you have, say, kids who are 18 and in college, 14, and 12, and have family insurance through your employer, you probably won't have to pay anything extra. If you want to drop family coverage, then yes, it would likely be an extra cost.

Car/car insurance is another one that varies. If your child is at an urban campus and living on/just off of campus, they can probably do without a car. Ditto if they're at a campus with good bike lanes and a halfway decent bus system (one I'm familiar with as an example- UC Santa Barbara).

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:14 am
by livesoft
miamivice wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:18 am
I would think that having a student responsible for his/her own cell phone bill after high school graduation would be a good start on the march toward financial independence from parents. Offhand I'm not seeing exactly why a parent would need to fund a college student's cell phone bill....
Well, the student should have a family plan and the parental cell phones should be on that plan. Offhand I'm not seeing exactly why a parent should have their own cell phone plan when their kids should pay for all the phones in the family.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:20 am
by soccerrules
livesoft wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:12 am
No, we didn't overfund a 529 plan because other options were much better for us.

We pay for college with money from 529 plans, taxable investments, salaries, cashback on credit cards, student jobs, Federal education tax credits, but not from loans nor from scholarships.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the 529 plan money is not the best method financially for us. OTOH, no one single method will cover all expenses for us.
+1 but we are open to scholarships (free money) 8-)

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:37 am
by Hillview
mt wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:12 am
I see the first item on your list is travel to/from school. I totally underestimated the cost of flying two kids to other states. Obviously if your kids go to college within driving distance this will be much less.
I just spoke with a neighbor who said the same -- has a child in a school across the country. Parent's weekend and then add to that move in and holidays/summer, it adds up.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:06 am
by delamer
Spirit Rider wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:26 am
Utilities are certainly qualified education expenses as long as the total with rent (excluding internet services) is <= the room allowance under the school's cost of attendance. Internet services qualify on their own.

Unfortunately, most schools use their dorm costs as the basis for the room allowance instead of the local housing market. If the school is in a HCOL area you may find the rent alone exceeds this

You may make it back in that off campus food costs can be well below the college required meal plans for dorm residents that usually forms the basis for the board allowance. Therefore, some of the room and board costs are not qualified education expenses. They must be funded from elsewhere.

In my case my youngest girl's school is in N VA just outside of DC. Even with a roommate and food costs about 1/2 of the minimum dorm required meal plan, total room and board exceeds the school's allowance.

The “cost of attendance” referred to above can be found on a college’s website.

If the “room and board” portion of cost of attendance is, for example, $5,000 a semester then you can’t use more than $5,000 in 529 funds to cover those costs even if you are actually paying $7,500 for an off-campus apartment and food.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:45 pm
by Hockey10
Here are a few items that come to mind:

- season tickets to football games for student - approx $230
- fitness center fee - $120
- fraternity / sorority fee - I have seen this as high as $500 per semester and as low as $50 per semester
- cost of attending a football game for the parents and 2 siblings - this can get very expensive if your student goes to a school with a major football program and you spend the weekend at a local hotel ; for 1 game, figure on anywhere from $1,000 - $3,000 for tickets, hotel, parking, meals, tailgate costs, etc... ; when Flagship State U plays Flagship State U from 1 or 2 states away and they are both in the top 10, some hotels will charge upwards of $600 per night and you have to pay for Fri and Sat (and book the room up to a year in advance). So to save money, see Flagship State U play one of the doormats on the schedule early in the season
- Clothing with the school logo
- Food, food, and more food ; my kids gradually stopped eating at the dining hall, so I gave them a grocery allowance that was equivalent to the standard meal plan.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:53 pm
by LiterallyIronic
miamivice wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:18 am
I would think that having a student responsible for his/her own cell phone bill after high school graduation would be a good start on the march toward financial independence from parents. Offhand I'm not seeing exactly why a parent would need to fund a college student's cell phone bill....
Heh, offhand I don't even see why a high school student needs a cell phone, though I'm guessing ten years from now my daughter will start trying to convince me otherwise. :wink:

To OP, I would say that most of the regular living expenses apply to a college student just like they'd apply to anyone else. The only real different is paying for tuition/books. Other than that, you still need a place to live, food to eat, etc.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:57 pm
by delamer
LiterallyIronic wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:53 pm
miamivice wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:18 am
I would think that having a student responsible for his/her own cell phone bill after high school graduation would be a good start on the march toward financial independence from parents. Offhand I'm not seeing exactly why a parent would need to fund a college student's cell phone bill....
Heh, offhand I don't even see why a high school student needs a cell phone, though I'm guessing ten years from now my daughter will start trying to convince me otherwise. :wink:
Cell phones are the primary means of communications for high school/college kids (and even older).

If your kid does not have one, s/he is going to be in a difficult position socially.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
by mcraepat9
Hockey10 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:45 pm
- fitness center fee - $120
I think the question on that one is whether payment of this fee is required as a condition for enrollment vs a voluntary fee?

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:20 pm
by soccerrules
Hockey10 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:45 pm
Here are a few items that come to mind:

- season tickets to football games for student - approx $230
- fitness center fee - $120
- fraternity / sorority fee - I have seen this as high as $500 per semester and as low as $50 per semester
- cost of attending a football game for the parents and 2 siblings - this can get very expensive if your student goes to a school with a major football program and you spend the weekend at a local hotel ; for 1 game, figure on anywhere from $1,000 - $3,000 for tickets, hotel, parking, meals, tailgate costs, etc... ; when Flagship State U plays Flagship State U from 1 or 2 states away and they are both in the top 10, some hotels will charge upwards of $600 per night and you have to pay for Fri and Sat (and book the room up to a year in advance). So to save money, see Flagship State U play one of the doormats on the schedule early in the season
- Clothing with the school logo
- Food, food, and more food ; my kids gradually stopped eating at the dining hall, so I gave them a grocery allowance that was equivalent to the standard meal plan.
Hockey10-
these are definitely extra expenses associated with having a college student, BUT other than food- I do not believe any of them would be eligible to be paid with 529 monies.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:25 pm
by miamivice
soccerrules wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:20 pm
Hockey10 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:45 pm
Here are a few items that come to mind:

- season tickets to football games for student - approx $230
- fitness center fee - $120
- fraternity / sorority fee - I have seen this as high as $500 per semester and as low as $50 per semester
- cost of attending a football game for the parents and 2 siblings - this can get very expensive if your student goes to a school with a major football program and you spend the weekend at a local hotel ; for 1 game, figure on anywhere from $1,000 - $3,000 for tickets, hotel, parking, meals, tailgate costs, etc... ; when Flagship State U plays Flagship State U from 1 or 2 states away and they are both in the top 10, some hotels will charge upwards of $600 per night and you have to pay for Fri and Sat (and book the room up to a year in advance). So to save money, see Flagship State U play one of the doormats on the schedule early in the season
- Clothing with the school logo
- Food, food, and more food ; my kids gradually stopped eating at the dining hall, so I gave them a grocery allowance that was equivalent to the standard meal plan.
Hockey10-
these are definitely extra expenses associated with having a college student, BUT other than food- I do not believe any of them would be eligible to be paid with 529 monies.
This thread is focused on college expenses NOT covered by a 529, so his addition was perfectly correct.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:32 pm
by soccerrules
miamivice wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:25 pm
soccerrules wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:20 pm
Hockey10 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:45 pm
Here are a few items that come to mind:

- season tickets to football games for student - approx $230
- fitness center fee - $120
- fraternity / sorority fee - I have seen this as high as $500 per semester and as low as $50 per semester
- cost of attending a football game for the parents and 2 siblings - this can get very expensive if your student goes to a school with a major football program and you spend the weekend at a local hotel ; for 1 game, figure on anywhere from $1,000 - $3,000 for tickets, hotel, parking, meals, tailgate costs, etc... ; when Flagship State U plays Flagship State U from 1 or 2 states away and they are both in the top 10, some hotels will charge upwards of $600 per night and you have to pay for Fri and Sat (and book the room up to a year in advance). So to save money, see Flagship State U play one of the doormats on the schedule early in the season
- Clothing with the school logo
- Food, food, and more food ; my kids gradually stopped eating at the dining hall, so I gave them a grocery allowance that was equivalent to the standard meal plan.
Hockey10-
these are definitely extra expenses associated with having a college student, BUT other than food- I do not believe any of them would be eligible to be paid with 529 monies.
This thread is focused on college expenses NOT covered by a 529, so his addition was perfectly correct.
Yes true, my mistake. I lost sight of the original post as the thread was zig-zagging to non-covered/covered.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:39 pm
by goodenyou
I found out the hard way that costs in EXCESS of published cost of attendance costs were not 529 qualified expenses. This became an issue when apartment costs in a HCOL area and food costs far exceeded the pubished dorm fees with board. I had to reimburse myself the costs from the 529 that were far lower than room and board. Also, be careful on the calendar year and academic year payment issue. They are (or can be) out of phase and you can run into IRS issues if you withdraw from a 529 to pay for college expenses in a different calendar and academic year. I learned the hard way! :?

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:55 pm
by DIFAR31
mcraepat9 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
Hockey10 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:45 pm
- fitness center fee - $120
I think the question on that one is whether payment of this fee is required as a condition for enrollment vs a voluntary fee?
No, that's not how it works. There are certain fees that the school says are mandatory, but even so these are not 529 qualified fees. Besides a fitness center fee, this could include a health center fee or a mandatory fee for health insurance (if the student is not otherwise covered by an acceptable health insurance policy).

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:57 pm
by MnD
NextMil wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:29 am
Thanks. I had not given this any thought, but I still have better than a decade to worry about it. If some are estimating close to $10k a year, do you just over fund 529 or use another vehicle? I am a big planner.
We just spent less on other things when the kids were in college.
Money is fungible - you don't have to have special earmarked accounts with 100% of every possible cost for that activity put away.
We did save the total cost of attendance for 1 kid for two years in 529's for the two overlap years.
Now that the kids are out of college we are spending more on things we cut back on during the college years.
We spent way less on miscellaneous/extra college expenses than we thought. But my kids are cheap.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:09 pm
by Spirit Rider
Well one good thing of this thread. It caused me to remember I need to pay the third payment of the spring semester on 3/15.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:15 pm
by renue74
LiterallyIronic wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:53 pm
miamivice wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:18 am
I would think that having a student responsible for his/her own cell phone bill after high school graduation would be a good start on the march toward financial independence from parents. Offhand I'm not seeing exactly why a parent would need to fund a college student's cell phone bill....
Heh, offhand I don't even see why a high school student needs a cell phone, though I'm guessing ten years from now my daughter will start trying to convince me otherwise. :wink:

To OP, I would say that most of the regular living expenses apply to a college student just like they'd apply to anyone else. The only real different is paying for tuition/books. Other than that, you still need a place to live, food to eat, etc.
When my kids hit middle school a few years ago, the cell phone debate started. I held them off until the 7th grade...and by that time it seemed like all their peers had cell phones. It does help us communicate with them about picking up, sports practice cancellations, etc.

I'm not a fan of them having it, but it has helped us...I don't think the cost/benefit analysis would show the benefit (for the parent) was more than the cost.

4 people on a Verizon plan = $215/month :(

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:24 pm
by Hockey10
mcraepat9 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:04 pm
Hockey10 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:45 pm
- fitness center fee - $120
I think the question on that one is whether payment of this fee is required as a condition for enrollment vs a voluntary fee?
In this case, it was a voluntary fee. I think the OP was looking for any costs related to college that would not be covered by a 529.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:47 pm
by LiterallyIronic
renue74 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:15 pm
When my kids hit middle school a few years ago, the cell phone debate started. I held them off until the 7th grade...and by that time it seemed like all their peers had cell phones. It does help us communicate with them about picking up, sports practice cancellations, etc.

I'm not a fan of them having it, but it has helped us...I don't think the cost/benefit analysis would show the benefit (for the parent) was more than the cost.

4 people on a Verizon plan = $215/month :(
Ouch. That's more expensive than our ten lines with T-Mobile. I didn't buy myself a cell phone until I was 23. You might argue that it's a different time now, but my brother is 15 and doesn't have one. Where do 7th graders go without their parents? School? Call from the school's office. A friend's house? Just bike back when you're done. I guess I'm a man of simple tastes. Wish my daughter luck when I introduce her to the NES when she turns three. :D

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:31 am
by Taz
Don't forget typical supplies such as paper, notebooks, engineering graph paper (pricey).
Cost of copying at the library
Laundry (daughter came home & raided the change jar for quarters)
Interview clothes.
Club costs.
Weekend retreats/conferences (although my son's expenses as a volunteer research assistant were paid).

Our general philosophy has been that we (+ FL Bright Futures Scholarship) will pay tuition, books, fees, room & board expenses. If living off campus, we give them the school's room & board rate. Daughter has the 15 yr old van & we pay the insurance. Every trip home she gets a gas card or two as a bribe. We split the cost of RUF retreats as we value her continued participation. She is also blessed with a grandparent who sends her a few hundred dollars for "educational expenses" so I think she has more than enough. If not, she has money saved from summer jobs.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:57 am
by 3funder
My wife and I contribute approximately $12k/year to our son's 529 (he is three years old). In other words, I fully believe it funding it, but I'm not all that excited about the prospect of having a sizable surplus, so I don't think we'll ever attempt to substantially juice our contributions beyond the annual gift tax limit, for example.

Re: College costs not covered by 529

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:12 pm
by ThePrince
miamivice wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:18 am
I would think that having a student responsible for his/her own cell phone bill after high school graduation would be a good start on the march toward financial independence from parents. Offhand I'm not seeing exactly why a parent would need to fund a college student's cell phone bill....

+1