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Cost of College Experience

What does the total cost of the college experience include? It's more than simply tuition and fees. Check out these tips to make sure you have all the bases covered.

Quick Tips to Save Money While in College

Finding inexpensive options for books, housing, food and supplies can have a big impact on your budget.

  • Live at home or close to campus, if that’s not an option, carpool with another person
  • Borrow or purchase textbooks from other students, if not an option, purchase "used" over "new". Investigate online options such as or
  • Apply for scholarships EVERY year, both inside and outside of the college you are attending
  • Complete the FAFSA - some people assume they will not qualify for any aid without really knowing
  • Identify local student discounts. Many places offer a discount if a student ID is shown
  • Find the free events around town and go with friends to save on entertainment costs
  • Instead of buying new, purchase items needed for your home on Craigslist or check out local garage and estate sales or your local Goodwill.
  • If you decide to take out loans, be sure to discuss these options with your Student Financial Counselor so that you understand the interest rates for the various types and how they accumulate.


  • Tuition rates vary by individual institution. Typically tuition at a private institution is higher per credit hour than a public/state institution or community college.
  • Online tuition versus in-class tuition rates also vary.
  • Tuition rates may also vary by program "accelerated/cohort" versus "traditional/in-class."


  • Bellevue University has one general college fee per term. There are no separate, individual fees for parking, tutoring services, career services, WIFI, printing, or for most services offered in the library. However, depending on the program that you are enrolled in, there may be a special program fee, such as a lab fee for a science course.
  • Fees are sometimes the "hidden" costs that you might not be aware of when you look at the price tag for college. You should ask the institutions you are considering what their fees are and if they are charged once per year or each semester. Generally speaking, other institutions charge upwards of $2,000 in fees.


  • Some high schools and other college institutions may charge a fee to have official transcripts sent to each institution you are considering. This may cost anywhere from $3 - $5 each time. Students need to check with their previous institutions to determine if a cost is involved.

Books and Supplies

  • Almost all courses will require at least one textbook.
  • Textbooks can be purchased new or used. Textbook rental as well as digital textbooks are also options for some courses. You should compare which is the best option for you. Asking the professor which textbooks are required versus optional may help to keep costs down. It's important to note that some course textbooks are higher priced than others. For example: science, technology and some business courses like accounting have higher prices.
  • Renting textbooks is a great option, but make sure you are aware of return dates. If rented textbooks are not returned by the deadline indicated, fees are charged. In addition, if damage is sustained to the textbooks while rented, more fees could be charged.
  • Whether you are renting or purchasing textbooks, please review the Bookstore return policies to ensure you understand when and how you can return books for a full or partial refund. Policies are strictly enforced.
  • Other supplies to consider: calculators, flash drives, pens, notebooks, software, highlighters, computer/laptop, etc. These need to be factored in the total cost because they can add up over time.

Living Expenses (Housing Options)

  • Some institutions offer on-campus housing, which may or may not be more expensive than living in an apartment with friends or at home with family members.
  • The expenses associated with apartment living usually include: monthly rent, utilities (gas, electricity, internet, cable, phone, etc.) and do NOT forget the application fee and deposit required at the beginning of the lease.
  • Living at home with family members may or may not include any of the above mentioned expenses, but for many students, this is a much more cost-effective option.
  • Bellevue University does not provide on-campus housing options but does have an apartment list of options that are within about 3 miles of the main campus. Students can review these to determine a general range for monthly rent, deposit and location in proximity to campus. In addition, Roommate Connection is a way for students to post that they are looking for a roommate to share an apartment. Both of these resources are available to all Bellevue University students.


  • Depending on the distance you live from campus you may need a car, as public transportation options are minimal to get to and from campus.
  • Expenses for a car generally include gas and overall maintenance. This will vary depending on the age and condition of the vehicle.


  • Custom Catering, our exclusive cafeteria, provides daily meal specials at the low cost of $5.50 with a medium drink, as well as offering a large selection of other menu items.
  • A rough estimate of a monthly grocery budget for one person is $150, and must be taken into consideration when planning your expenses.
  • If you choose to go out to eat more often than eating at home, this can drastically increase the cost spent on food per month.


  • While attending college, childcare is an expense you may need to consider if you have small children at home. Taking online classes can alleviate the need to pay for childcare, but if you prefer to take your courses in-class, you might have to factor in the cost of childcare during class times. Consider seeing if a family member or close friend can watch the kid(s) while you are in class. If not, there are many options from in-home, private daycare, to nanny's, to larger daycare centers. You should always be thorough in your search if childcare is necessary so that you can find one that works with the hours you are in class, is at a price point that you can afford and is a reputable person or place. Some scholarships will even help pay for childcare as many consider it part of the overall cost of college. Be sure to ask the college or university that you are attending if there are scholarships that can assist with this cost.


  • Let's be realistic...a student’s entire college career will not be solely consumed with attending and studying for classes. Students want to engage in and attend activities with friends as a way to meet new people and stay connected. Bellevue University offers many FREE options for entertainment, including:
    • Athletic events for all 8 sports teams (home games are free with a student ID)
    • Student activities: bowling nights, movie nights, BRUIN week activities, student appreciation days, etc.
  • There are many other events that take place in the Bellevue/Omaha area for students to engage in, some of which are free.


Budget Calculator

For more information on the various financing options for college, please refer to the Financial Services area of the Bellevue University website.

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