Beyond the College Bill: The Hidden Hurdles of Indirect Expenses

uAspire / June 2020

Indirect expenses, non-tuition costs like textbooks, laptops, transportation, off-campus housing, and food, make up more than half the cost of college, yet colleges fail to give students essential information about them. These unforeseen costs can create financial hardship that prevent students from earning a degree, especially those from low-income backgrounds and communities of color who face affordability gaps nationwide.

This report examines how colleges calculate and communicate indirect expenses, how students struggle to understand and afford them, and the impact on students. The study draws on primary and secondary research, along with data analysis from over 800 colleges and the lived experiences of more than 150 students.