Average College Student Spending 2023 [Monthly Allowance] (2023)

Report Highlights

  • On average, the cost for college is about $35,720 per year.
  • A full-time community college student spends around $1,760 per year on transportation alone.
  • Students spend roughly $413 per academic year on college course materials.
  • The total estimated cost of living per year for students, including food, housing, clothing, phone plan, miscellaneous, etc., is around $14,435.
  • 83% of undergraduate college students own at least one credit card.
  • The student loan debt, on average, is $37,584.
  • On average, college students borrow over $30,000 annually to attend school.
  • About 34% of students borrow money to attend college.

Tuition Costs

In the last 20 years, the cost of tuition has tripled with a yearly growth rate of 6.8%.

Average College Student Spending 2023 [Monthly Allowance] (1)

The cost of college varies based on the cost of tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies. Also, the tuition expense varies whether the student attends an in-state or out-of-state college.

Public Institutions

Institution-TypeCost of TuitionAdditional ExpensesCost of Attendance
4-year$9,580 (In-State)$16,284$25,864
4-year$27,437 (Out-of-State)$16,284$43,721
2-year$3,372 (In-State)$12,665$16,037

Private Institutions

Institution-TypeCost of TuitionAdditional ExpensesCost of Attendance
4-year$37,200 (Nonprofit)$16,749$53,949
4-year$13,475 (For-profit)$21,073$34,548
2-year$17,294 (Nonprofit)$17,262$34,556
2-year$15,974 (For-profit)$13,984$29,958

Cost of Room and Board

Not all students will live on campus. However, for college students that do live outside of their parent’s or guardian’s home, the cost of room and board depends on whether they live on or off-campus.

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  • The cost of room and board ranges from $10,216 to $11,945 for public 4-year institutions.
  • Off-campus students in these 4-year institutions pay about $10,781, and on-campus students pay $11,451.
  • For private nonprofit institutions, students who live on campus pay $12,682 per year, and off-campus students spend $9,762.
  • For private for-profit colleges, off-campus costs on average $8,027, and on-campus costs $10,654.
  • For public 2-year institutions, students who live on campus pay about $7,165, and off-campus students pay $9,316.
  • For nonprofit 2-year institutions, students living on-campus pay about $11,723, and off-campus boarders pay roughly $9,429 annually.
  • On-campus boarders pay about $10,639, and off-campus borders spend about $9,222 for private, for-profit institutions.

Course Material Average Spending

College students have spent less on textbooks and digital course materials over the years. Students now have more available options to purchase course material such as print or digital material and choose to rent or purchase them. The choice to rent and use digital material has likely caused a sudden decrease in college course material compared to years prior.

  • At 4-year public institutions, college students pay roughly $1,334 yearly on books and supplies.
  • For private, nonprofit institutions, students pay about $1,308.
  • For private for-profit institutions, students pay about $1,194 for books and supplies.
  • At 2-year public institutions, students pay $1,585 annually on average for books and supplies.
  • Students pay $1,061 on average at private nonprofit institutions, and for 2-year for-profit colleges, students pay about $1,393.

Average Additional Costs

Other student living expenses must also be accounted for, such as personal care, transportation, and entertainment. These numbers will vary yearly due to the local economy and the student’s housing status.

  • At 4-year institutions, additional expenses range from $3,201 to $4,471.
  • Students living on campus in these 4-year institutions pay about $3,493 in additional expenses, and students living off-campus (who don’t live with family members) pay about $4,253 in additional costs.
  • For private nonprofit 4-year institutions, students living on campus pay $2,758 on average for additional expenses.
  • Students living off-campus (who live alone without family members) in these same institutions pay $5,527, while students living off-campus with family members spend $4,236.
  • For private for-profit institutions, students living on campus spend $4,748 annually or additional expenses.
  • In these same institutions, off-campus students spend $4,254, and students living off-campus with their families pay about $4,497.

Average Cost of Lost Income

Many students don’t consider the potential lost income or opportunity cost of working rather than attending school. However, school is costly, and therefore, students should understand the risk and rewards to both sides.

  • For high school graduates, the average weekly income is $763, and the annual income is $39,676.
  • Almost 50% of college students can’t afford to buy balanced meals.
  • Four years after students receive their high school diploma, they earn roughly $158,704 or $108649 annually after taxes.
  • 56% of students nationwide experience housing insecurity, and 45% of students have food insecurity.
  • 44% of students attending 4-year institutions worry about running out of food, and 50% of students have the same worry from 2-year institutions.

Non-Academic Costs in California

Beyond just the tuition and fees, students will have expenses with their housing, food, books and supplies, and personal expenses. These were some of the findings specifically from the 2018 to 2019 edition of the Student Expenses and Resource Survey (SEARS) conducted by the California Student Aid Commission. This survey sampled 150,000 college students in California from varying regions, ages, and races/ethnicity.

  • Students in California spend about $2,020 per month or $18,180 annually per nine-month academic year for expenses outside of tuition.
  • 64% of respondents viewed the cost of college and balancing school and work responsibilities as the biggest obstacle to succeeding in college.
  • 35% of college students are insecure about whether they can afford to house, and 35% of students are insecure about affording food throughout the academic year.
  • 38% of students disagreed that they have the necessary financial resources to afford tuition and fees.
  • 35% didn’t believe they had enough for books and supplies, and 30% for housing and utilities.
  • Students pay about $753 per month for housing in the central valley region and $1,178 per month in San Mateo and San Francisco counties.
  • 47% of black college students indicated a high level of housing insecurity and 54% for food insecurity.

Health Insurance Rates

Below are the following insurance plan rates for students attending MIT. The table indicated the cost difference between 2015 to 2016.

MIT College Student Insurance Plan Rates

Type<20152016Annual Net Change
Student and Spouse$3,972$3,504$468
Student and Dependent$2,784$2,460$324
Student, Partner, and Dependent$4,188$3,696$492

Private Full-Breakdown of All College Student Expenses

The University of Chicago is a private 4-year institution that released its estimated cost of attendance for 2021 to 2022. This includes direct expenses such as tuition, fees, and health insurance. In addition, there are indirect expenses like food, rent, supplies, books, transportation, and miscellaneous costs.

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Categories1 Academic YearThree QuartersTwo QuartersOne Quarter
Books and Supplies$2,380$1,785$1,190$595
Room and Board$23,040$17,280$11,520$5,760
Graduate Student Services Fee$1,664$1,248$832$416
Estimated Loan Fees$1,560$1,170$780$390
Estimated Health Insurance$4,566$4,556$3,044$1,522
Total Living Expenses and Fees$40,950$32,487$21,652$10,618

Full Breakdown of 4-year Public Institution Costs

The University of Washington is a popular 4-year public institution, and they released their estimated student budget for 2021 to 2022 9-month academic year (October thru June). This includes everything such as living expenses, books, tuition, and rent. These numbers give a snapshot of what a student’s cost of living is, and tuition is, broken down by each category.

Undergraduate Students

Budget ItemsLiving with Parents/RelativeLiving on/off campusStudents with dependents
Textbooks & course supplies$900$900$900
Rent, utilities & food$4,725$14,871$18,402
Personal & miscellaneous$2,316$2,316$2,316
Resident Tuition$11,745$11,745$11,745
Resident Total Costs$20,373$30,303$34,683
Non-Resident Tuition$39,114$39,114$39,114
Non-Resident Total Costs$47,742$57,672$62,052

Graduate Students

Budget itemsLive with parents/relativeGraduate/professional
Textbooks & course supplies$825$825
Rent, utilities & food$4,752$18,402
Personal & miscellaneous$2,316$2,316
Resident Tuition$17,394$17,394
Resident Total Costs$26,607$40,257
Non-Resident Tuition$30,294$30,294
Non-Resident Total Costs$39,507$53,157

College Students and Credit Cards

Students who own credit cards have been the highest to date and appear to use them more frequently. Credit cards are one factor, along with education loans, that demonstrate the amount of money borrowed for students to fund their tuition and cost of living.

  • 54% of freshmen college students carry a credit card
  • The median debt for undergraduates carrying credit cards is about $1,770
  • The average credit card balance for students is $2,327
  • The median credit card balance for students is $1,770.
  • 21% of undergraduates who own credit cards have balances between $3,000 and $7,000
  • Graduate students have an average of $20,402 in combined debt, which lumps credit card balances and education loans together.
  • Students in midwest states carry the highest average credit card balances, while students living in the northeast carry the least.
  • Students triple the number of credits they own and double their average credit card debt when they arrive in college until graduation.
  • 6% of students have a credit card balance exceeding $7,000
  • Students across the U.S. own an average of 4.25 credit cards
  • 47% of students own four or more credit cards


  1. http://perspectives.acct.org/stories/transportation-costs-in-student-living-expenses
  2. https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-college
  3. https://www.csac.ca.gov/sites/main/files/file-attachments/2018-19_student_expenses_and_resources_survey_web.pdf
  4. https://gsc.mit.edu/about-gsc/cost-of-living-analysis/
  5. https://financialaid.uchicago.edu/graduate/costs/cost-attendance
  6. https://www.westmont.edu/~phunter/ma5/eg/credit.pdf
  7. https://www.washington.edu/financialaid/getting-started/student-budgets/
  • Tuition Costs
  • Public Institutions
  • Private Institutions
  • Cost of Room and Board
  • Course Material Average Spending
  • Average Additional Costs
  • Average Cost of Lost Income
  • (Video) the student guide to personal finance 💸 adulting 101
  • Non-Academic Costs in California
  • Health Insurance Rates
  • MIT College Student Insurance Plan Rates
  • Private Full-Breakdown of All College Student Expenses
  • Full Breakdown of 4-year Public Institution Costs
  • Undergraduate Students
  • Graduate Students
  • (Video) 18 Vs. 28 Vs. 38: Student Loans
  • College Students and Credit Cards


What is a good monthly allowance for a college student? ›

Some families give their students a monthly allowance, ranging from $75–$225, to supplement the student's own savings. After the first year, especially for students making good money through summer employment, an allowance may no longer be necessary.

How much spending money does the average college student have? ›

On average, college students spend $2,000 in spending money each year. Set your college student up for success by helping them create a budget early on. There are many different ways to set a budget, but remember that college student budgets aren't one-size-fits-all.

How much should a college student spend on groceries per month? ›

According to the USDA website, a typical college student will usually spend between $163 and $367 a month on food. This particular website avails different costs based on gender, as well as four distinct meal-plan estimate levels.

How much does a student need to live on per month? ›

Cost of Living in London as a Student in 2022/2023. The cost of living for students in London averages around a monthly rate of £1,500 per month. This should cover expenses like student accommodation rent, food, transportation, personal expenses, and leisure.

How much does the average college student have in their bank account? ›

A further 2019 study by OneClass surveyed undergraduates to see how much money students have in their bank accounts by major.
Average savings by education level.
EducationMedian bank account balanceMean bank account balance
Some college$3,900$23,550
Bachelor's degree$15,400$78,890
2 more rows
Dec 21, 2022

What is a reasonable amount of spending money per month? ›

When it comes to how much you should spend and save each month, NerdWallet advocates the 50/30/20 budget. With this formula, you aim to devote 50% of your take-home pay to needs like rent and insurance, 30% to wants like gym memberships and vacations, and 20% to debt repayment and savings.

What is a good monthly allowance? ›

Average allowance for kids and teens — in 2022

A rule of thumb to follow is to give your kid $1 per week for each year of their age. If you have a 7-year-old, their allowance would total $7 per week. A 16-year-old would receive more, at $16 per week.

How much spending money do you need per month? ›

The rule entails spending 50% of your monthly income on essential expenses such as rent, monthly bills, and groceries, spending 30% on non-essential purchases such as going out to eat, and putting 20% into your savings account.

How much money should a 19 year old have? ›

But based on money trends, minimum wage, etc. – $3,000 is a good starting point. That amount gives you time to find a job and live until your first paycheck.

How much should a parent spend on college? ›

The costs to send your kids to college for the average middle income and high income family is $28,668 and $31,822, according to Sallie Mae based on 2020 data. Looking at middle income families, 25% of the costs of college is covered by grants and scholarships.

How much money does the average college student make a month? ›

As of Mar 5, 2023, the average monthly pay for a Student in the United States is $3,982 a month. While ZipRecruiter is seeing monthly salaries as high as $9,000 and as low as $1,208, the majority of Student salaries currently range between $2,500 (25th percentile) to $4,166 (75th percentile) across the United States.

What should college students budget for food? ›

These cheap meals for college students are simple and healthier than fast food.
  • Chicken and Veggie Baking Sheet. Price: $1.50 per serving. ...
  • Tater Tot Casserole. Price: $2.28 per serving. ...
  • Ramen. ...
  • Mac and Cheese. ...
  • Two Scrambled Eggs and Toast. ...
  • Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. ...
  • Baked Ravioli. ...
  • Tortilla Wraps.
Jul 8, 2022

How often should I go grocery shopping as a college student? ›

Shop At Least Once a Week

Be prepared to go grocery shopping at least once a week and make that twice a week if you eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Things like bell peppers, green onions, and berries seem to go bad within a few days, so plan to buy just a few at a time and eat these asap!

Are college meal plans cheaper than groceries? ›

They are more expensive than buying your own food and cooking it yourself. The cost per meal can be especially high if you wind up selecting a plan that includes more meals than you eat in a semester as you typically pay for meals, even if you don't eat them.

How much spending money does a college student need per week? ›

Some students were given money when expenses arose rather than as a proscribed regular weekly amount. The consensus among the hundreds of parents who did send their college students spending money was that the range should be between $25-$75 a week for a student living on campus.

Is $1000 a month enough to live on? ›

Tips for Boosting Your Income. Even under the best circumstances, $1,000 per month is not a huge amount of money. Try to live on $12,000 a year and your quality of life will be less than stellar in the best-case scenario.

What does the average 18 year old have in their bank account? ›

How Much Money Does an Average 18-Year-Old Have In Their Bank Account? Now that assumes full-time work and little to no financial responsibility. In reality, the average teen likely has far less than 1,000 in their savings. For comparison, the average adult has around 5,300 in savings³.

How much should the average 21 year old have in their bank account? ›

The general rule of thumb is that you should save 20% of your salary for retirement, emergencies, and long-term goals. By age 21, assuming you have worked full time earning the median salary for the equivalent of a year, you should have saved a little more than $7,000.

How much money do most 22 year olds have in their bank account? ›

How much do most 22 year olds have saved? Younger people are no exception. Of “young millennials” — which GOBankingRates defines as those between 18 and 24 years old — 67 percent have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 46 percent have $0.

What is a realistic monthly budget? ›

The basic rule of thumb is to divide your monthly after-tax income into three spending categories: 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings or paying off debt. By regularly keeping your expenses balanced across these main spending areas, you can put your money to work more efficiently.

Is $3000 a month good? ›

Is $3000 a month enough? If you're single and don't have a family to take care of, $3000 is enough to get you through the month comfortably. And, if you keep your expenses to a minimum, you can save a few hundred dollars from your paycheck.

Is $2500 a month enough to live on? ›

With the exception of Manhattan and San Francisco, you can live — and live well — on $2,500 (or less) per month. Consider my situation.

Should you give your college student an allowance? ›

For some students, getting a job and earning their own spending money is the only way they can make ends meet. But if you're willing and able to help your college-aged kids, a monthly allowance can often be the best way to go.

Should allowance be tied to chores? ›

If the allowance is tied to chores, kids learn the relationship between work and pay. Using an allowance as an incentive motivates kids to get their chores done. Kids can earn extra money for extra tasks, beyond regular daily or weekly chores, just as they might when they are teens with summer jobs.

How many allowances should I put? ›

If you are single and have one job, or married and filing jointly then claiming one allowance makes the most sense. An individual can claim two allowances if they are single and have more than one job, or are married and are filing taxes separately.

What is the 70 20 10 Rule money? ›

The biggest chunk, 70%, goes towards living expenses while 20% goes towards repaying any debt, or to savings if all your debt is covered. The remaining 10% is your 'fun bucket', money set aside for the things you want after your essentials, debt and savings goals are taken care of.

How much money should I have at 25? ›

By age 25, you should have saved about $20,000. Looking at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the third quarter of 2022, the median salaries for full-time workers were as follows: $690 per week, or $35,880 each year for workers ages 20 to 24.

What is the 40 20 10 rule? ›

40% of your income goes towards your savings. 30% of your income goes towards necessary expenses (food, rent, bills, etc.). 20% of your income goes towards discretionary spending (entertainment, travel, etc.). 10% of your income goes towards contributory activities (donations, charity, tithe, etc.).

How much is the average 23 year old worth? ›

The next survey on Family Finances from the Federal Reserve will come out in late 2023.
Average Millennial Net Worth By Age.
AgeAverage Net Worth
24 (Class of 2018)-$28,706
23 (Class of 2019)-$33,984
22 (Class of 2020)-$39,915
15 more rows
Feb 19, 2023

What is the 50 30 20 rule? ›

One of the most common percentage-based budgets is the 50/30/20 rule. The idea is to divide your income into three categories, spending 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings.

How much does the average 19 year old have in their bank account? ›

Younger people are no exception. Of “young millennials” — which GOBankingRates defines as those between 18 and 24 years old — 67 percent have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 46 percent have $0.

How does the average college student spend their time? ›

Students were asked how much time they spent per week on various activities. Here is what the majority of those surveyed reported.
How College Students Spend their Time.
ActivityHours per week
Attending Classes11-15 hours
Studying/homework6-10 hours
Socializing with Friends6-10 hours
Exercising/Sports3-5 hours
7 more rows

How should I budget my money as a college student? ›

Here are seven college budgeting tips with insight from financial experts.
  1. Track Your Spending. ...
  2. Set Long-Term Financial Goals. ...
  3. Build Credit Into Your Budget. ...
  4. Create an Income Source. ...
  5. Spend Below Your Means. ...
  6. Keep Searching for Scholarships. ...
  7. Set Aside Savings.

How to do the 50 30 20 rule? ›

One of the most common percentage-based budgets is the 50/30/20 rule. The idea is to divide your income into three categories, spending 50% on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings.

How much does the average single person spend per month? ›

The average expenses for a single consumer unit in one month in 2021 were $5,577. Meanwhile, average spending per year came out to $66,928. Keep in mind that the cost of living can vary by region -- some cities are cheaper to live in and others are more expensive.


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