5 Budget Factors to Consider When Picking a College

After you've been accepted to the colleges or universities of your choice, the next big step is choosing a school. While a good education can take your salary up to the next level in the future, you have to think about your current financial situation to pay for tuition, books and more.

Determine whether there are any monetary obstacles that could prevent you from finishing school and obtaining that degree by thinking about your existing college budget.

Here are five budget factors to consider when picking a college:

1. Savings
According to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for a public four-year, in-state institution is $9,139 in 2014-2015. This is higher for public four-year, out-of-state ($22,958) and private, nonprofit four-year ($31,231) schools. With the high cost of college, some families save as soon as they plan for their children to get a higher education degree. However, this is not always possible. Less than half (41 percent) of parents and grandparents began saving for their children or grandchildren to go to college, according to savingforcollege.com.

Look at the amount of funds you have in a savings account for college, and see whether you might need additional money or financing to pay for the rest. 

2. Income / Support from Family
Whether you have your family helping you pay for college or not, you should also look into all sources of income to make sure you can pay your tuition and other bills. Some financial aid offices allow you to earn a paycheck through a work-study program, where you work a certain number of hours each week.

If you believe a work-study gig is not enough, you could also seek out a paid internship, part-time or full-time job. You might want to wait until you get a good gauge of your classes and social life before choosing how to support yourself through school.

After looking into college savings, determine whether you need other sources of income or loans to pay for school.After looking into college savings, determine whether you need other sources of income or loans to pay for school.

3. Living Expenses
Depending on the school, your housing and living expenses may be a huge part of your college budget. Decide whether you will have to pay for room and board, live in off-campus housing, have to drive to campus and other factors that could add up expenditures. The U.S. Department of Education suggested listing both fixed and variable costs, such as cell phone bills, groceries, laundry, gas and car maintenance. 

4. School-Related Costs
There are also college costs to think about, including tuition, fees, books, membership dues for sororities, fraternities, clubs and honor societies. With the cost of tuition, look into the possibility of receiving financial aid from the school, either loans, grants and scholarships, to cover these expenses. 

5. Future Loan Payments
If you do end up taking a student loan, use a student loan calculator to calculate what the loan payments may look like in the future. Take into account the interest rate, whether they are public or private loans and when the repayment period starts. The Department of Education features a repayment estimator for student loan borrowers to pinpoint their repayment options depending on their income.