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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Cash, Convenience, and College”

    As fresh dorm rooms are broken in and students adjust to the rigors of the fall semester, freshmen notice early that campus expenses amount to much more than just tuition and food.

    So what does college really cost for the first year?

    “”On the average, it’s about $14,400 for someone living on campus in a residence hall,”” said John Nametz, director of student financial aid. “”That’s for tuition, room and board, books, food, supplies. Depending on the person – and this isn’t new – but you’re probably talking another $3,000 in miscellaneous expenses that people have.””

    Nametz said those costs usually cover items such as toiletries and clothing – items that one might consider personal expenses. However, students should not be concerned with this seemingly hefty expense.

    “”It’s no different from the last few years of high school,”” he said.

    Nametz explained some of the ways in which students can alleviate the initial spending shock that can occur in the first few semesters of college. He suggested that students should have all of their classes and living arrangements scheduled prior to arriving at school. Students can take advantage of using their student accounts to purchase books and other items at the UofA Bookstore starting Aug. 4. This way, he explained, students can take advantage of early deals on used books, for example.

    Another way in which incoming freshmen can quickly become acclimated to university life is to open local bank accounts, which helps to establish students in the community, Nametz said. With the sync-up of the UA CatCard and Wells Fargo branches, convenience can now play easily and efficiently into student life.

    Also, with a variety of locations on or near campus, students have the ability to access money quickly and easily.

    Another way in which students can keep a little extra money is by purchasing a meal plan – a great choice for students spending their first year on the UA campus.

    Caitlin Beckett, a Meal Plan PIP worker, said it is difficult to determine just how much the average college student eats in a single year, because there are both commuters and non-commuters. Beckett explained that people on campus will generally spend more money than individuals who are living somewhere else, and that there is no direct answer because everyone eats so differently.

    She did note, however, that having a meal plan could help students put cash aside.

    “”They’re really important, because they save you money,”” she said. “”CatCards are convenient in the long lines at lunch. Some of the credit card machines take literally five minutes, and you’re not having to pull out cash. The meal plan is convenient, because you always have money on hand.””

    While deciding on a meal plan can seem daunting, Beckett said that the easiest method is to choose the lowest plan and add additional money when necessary, as meal plans do expire at the end of the academic year. She often recommends the “”Plus 10″” plan for female students and the “”Plus 12″” plan for male students. The only time she recommends the largest plan is when she discusses plans with football players.

    Nametz said he believes incoming freshmen are also responsible enough to begin using credit and debit cards.

    “”Some people aren’t going to like this, but I think having a credit or debit card just insulates students from stuff that happens,”” he said, citing emergency situations with family members as an example.

    “”I believe that our students are the best clients that any organization in the world can have – they’re smart, savvy consumers. I believe they can not only be trusted, but also be expected to get the best deals and be judicious about how they spend money,”” he said. “”We’ve got some really smart people here, including the brand new students.””

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