The Most Common Unexpected College Expenses

When you’re planning out your budget for college, expenses like tuition, housing, textbooks, food, and school supplies are usually the first to come to mind, but there are plenty of unexpected costs that can catch students off guard. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common unexpected expenses that college students may encounter and offer tips on how to handle them.

Greek Life Fees:

Joining any kind of club, organization, or student society often involves membership fees or dues, but few are more expensive than joining Greek life. Even before committing to a sorority or fraternity, the cost of attending social events during rush season can reach hundreds of dollars. Once you are accepted, you’ll need to consider registration fees, membership dues, social events, trips, and room and board if you choose to live in the sorority or fraternity house. 

You can help cut the cost of new outfits for rush or social events by borrowing from friends or thrifting your clothes.


Study Abroad Costs:

Most of your study abroad program will probably be covered by what you budgeted for the semester at your U.S. college, but you’ll still need to factor in flights to-and-from, any travel you want to do while you’re there, and general costs associated with leaving the country, like getting a passport, new luggage, and adding international data to your phone plan. The strength of the U.S. dollar will depend on the country you’re studying in, so you may also have to factor that into your budget. 

Researching scholarship opportunities or exploring fundraising options can help manage these unique expenses.


Summer Storage 

If you don’t plan on staying in your college town for the summer, try to find someone to sublet your room or apartment. Post as early as possible on your school website and ask around for any friends-of-friends looking for a place to crash. 

If you’re unable to move all of your belongings and furniture home with you for the summer months, you may have to rent a storage unit until you return in the Fall. Many storage facilities have relationships with the colleges, so be sure to ask about student discounts. 


Medical Emergencies:

Health-related issues can arise at any time and often come with unforeseen costs. From sudden illnesses to accidents, medical emergencies can quickly drain your finances. It is essential for students to have health insurance coverage, whether through a parent's plan, school-sponsored insurance, or individual policies. Even with insurance, you’ll still need to add in the cost of co-pays for doctor’s visits and your medications. 

Understanding your insurance coverage and keeping emergency funds specifically allocated for medical expenses can provide peace of mind during such situations.


Pet Care:

If you are bringing a pet to college with you or plan to adopt one once you’re there, that means you’ll need funds for a pet deposit, food, trips to the veterinarian, toys and bedding, and pet sitting or dog walking costs to your budget. 

If you’re an animal lover but not ready to commit financially to adopting one, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter, fostering animals on a part-time basis, or taking a side gig as a dog walker or pet sitter and earn extra cash while spending time with furry friends. If you do have an animal, find out which of your friends also have pets and offer to trade off caring for them when one of you is out of town or stuck in class.


Technology and Equipment:

Reliable devices like computers and cell phones are vital for college life. However, laptops, tablets, printers, or other tech can malfunction or require repairs at inconvenient times. Setting aside funds for potential repairs or replacements is essential, especially if you know you’re working on an older device, are no longer covered by a warranty, or are prone to dropping phones in toilets or spilling coffee on your devices. 

If/when you do invest in any new tech, take advantage of manufacturer warranties and consider insurance or protection plans for expensive devices for added financial security.


Transportation Expenses:

The cost of getting to where you need to be physically pops up day-to-day like commuting to an internship or job, or in future trips like Spring Break or going home for the holidays. No matter which you consider, travel expenses can quickly add up. 

If you have a car, you’ll need to factor in parking, gas, insurance, registration, and maintenance. If you don’t have a car, you’ll have to budget for how often you think you’ll use public transportation, rideshare apps, bike or scooter rentals, or other ways of getting around campus and town. 

Planning ahead, using travel rewards programs, being flexible with your travel dates, and considering more affordable modes of transport, such as carpooling or utilizing student discounts on public transportation, can help save money on these expenses.



By understanding and preparing for common financial surprises, students can navigate these situations more effectively. Building an emergency fund, maintaining insurance coverage, budgeting for unforeseen expenses, and researching cost-saving strategies are essential steps toward financial preparedness. By proactively managing unexpected expenses, college students can focus on their studies and enjoy the school year without being blindsided by financial setbacks. 

If you need help covering unexpected expenses, check out Kora - the money app for college. With KoraCash, you can borrow up to $3,000 and choose repayment terms that work for you, all while building your credit history. 


Kora has got your back!

KoraCash is an excellent option for a personal loan for students. KoraCash is a great solution for students struggling with unexpected expenses like vet bills, car repairs, medical costs, or dues for a club. Life comes at you fast, and Kora is here help you with transparent and flexible financing. Here's how it works:

  • Download our app
  • Apply (you must be over 18, a current/recent college student, live in an eligible state, and have an SSN)
  • Get up to $3,000 
  • Make flexible payments when you want 

One of the best parts of KoraCash is that it may help build credit history as you repay the loan. You contribute to growing good credit history without a credit card while getting access to needed funds. It's the best of both worlds! 

Learn more about Kora and get started on your money app journey with a company built for college students.

Back to Blog