So if you add up all the college costs that students and parents probably didn't plan for — the stuff that isn't tuition and room and board — how big is that number? The National Retail Federation estimates that, this year, it will total $43 billion. That's a hard number to grasp, so let's break it down to one family — mine.
With our daughter now beginning her fourth and hopefully final year in college, here's one thing I've learned: No matter how much you plan to spend, it won't cover everything. Not even close.