UNITED STATES—Well it’s that time of year: school is about to be back in session! For many parents, it’s a glorious time, but it’s also a time of year that can be quite costly depending on the grade the child is in and rather they attend a public or private school. I recall growing up that school supplies weren’t as pricey or lengthy as they are now. When I switched to private school in the seventh grade, my parents received a shocker.

For close to 2 years, 4 years if you count my siblings, they received list of items that distinctly needed to be purchased. It got so bad that, the school would list distinct items that all students had to purchase. If it wasn’t enough that tuition was already being paid, in addition to bringing a packed lunch each day, the school had the audacity to request the purchase of Kleenex and hand soap because they were unable to provide these items to students. Now that I reflect back on things it seems slightly crazy to think about it.

I honestly believe my parents spent $250-$300 per child for over 4 years. Yeah, that’s close to $4k and a lot of the items the school requested we never even used. What a waste of hard earned money for no reason. When I ventured back to public school, there was no list, but of course you have pens, paper, pencils, notebooks, backpacks, the essentials. I would say the younger the child, the easier it is to purchase supplies like crayons, markers, glue and other creative items that tend to be a must for learning.

Now if we transition to higher education, um, college, the price for a freshman to be properly equipped for classes is unspeakable. For starters, you have to think of those items to furnish your dorm room. Look, speaking from personal experience, the dorm is not the size of your bedroom, so prepare to downgrade things significantly. A must is that mattress pad; as much as one would like to think the university brings in new mattresses yearly that would be a mistake to make.

In addition, you need a sheet set, pillows and perhaps a rug for comfort on those hard-wood floors. That is just the initial bedding. You’re looking at an easy $100 bucks there. Now, things become a bit pricey, as a television, microwave and refrigerator are needed items. That’s another $300-$400 minimum. The larger the TV the bigger the price tag. Then you have to think about cleaning supplies, shower items (cause let’s face it, most of us were stuck with public restrooms). You also have storage items which are utilized to occupy as much space as possible.

Tack on food and actual school supplies, not to mention a laptop and items to furnish a study area and $1500 to $2000 has already been spent. Yes, freshmen year the parents and the student tend to go overboard slightly to ensure all bases are covered. The one tidbit I haven’t even tapped into is the price of books. Yep, the books you need for class are not included in that tuition bill at the end of each semester.

The price of books might have been the biggest shocker I ever encountered during my undergraduate years. Gosh, books for just one class could range anywhere between $300-$500, now imagine if you’re taking 4-5 classes per semester; it’s like paying your tuition bill for a second time.

As a freshman, I didn’t know any better, but I wised up to saving money any possible way for my sophomore, junior and senior year. Utilize the school library to get books for classes, don’t be afraid to make copies of the chapters or material you need for a particular course before purchasing a book (that probably isn’t even needed). Trust me, plenty of professors list books that they don’t even plan to utilize in the class. How about not even placing that item on the list if it not needed?

Well the costs of supplies to go back to school seems to increase every single year, nothing changes the fact that college seems to be at the top of the food chain when it comes to breaking the bank for many parents in the educational arena. But when it comes to education can you put a price tag on things?