Tuition, room, and board costs are just the beginning of paying for college. Those "incidentals" (if you can consider a $300 text book an incidental) can really add up. For those of you about-to-be college "freshpersons" (observing the proper gender-neutral PC protocol here) who may not understand what all is involved in the incidental category, here's a little exercise.

Imagine a bare college dorm room inside of which you will live from September (maybe even sooner) into May. Now, to make your portion of that bare room into your own domain, you'll have to personalize it. What will you need to personalize it, you ask? Well, look around your own room at home. What kinds of things do you see there? Sure, there are key items, such as your computer and maybe a TV or 'fridge, but look closer. There are a lot of smaller items you may be taking for grated. How about sheets and other bedding materials? How about laundry supplies? (You do intend to wash your clothes now and then, don't you?) How about lamps, and printer paper, and ink cartridges, and wall decorations, and . . . Get the picture, so to speak?

Keep reading Show less