Saturday, June 18, 2011

College By the Numbers, Year I

For those that are curious, I've compiled some numbers from my freshman year that may be useful. This info has been gathered from each of the quarters (Fall, Winter, and Spring), so you can click the links for more quarter-specific numbers.

Edit: It has been requested that I reveal the numbers on living expenses in the dorms. According to this WWU document, dorms (w/o meals) cost $5,571.
Each student is given a Laundry Card to use the washer and dryers on campus. Initially the cards have $1.75 on them, and then each student is responsible for reloading their card by going to the dining halls and paying cash at the converter. While doing laundry this year, I spent $19.50 from the card ($17.75 of cash onto the card), and found $8.39 in the machines, hidden in wet piles of lint, hair-ties, lipstick, and paperclips.

In total, I spent $960.80 on 13 textbooks. Most of them I was able to sell back to the bookstore for some cash, but I'm going to try and do more student-to-student transactions when possible, to keep costs down and cash-back a little higher.


Each quarter, students with certain meal plans are given $150 Dining Dollars on their ID cards. This money is for buying food and beverages at the on-campus diners and markets. The leftover money is carried over each quarter, except for summer, where it disappears. Of the $450 given to me, I easily spent it all.

I paid for an Unlimited Meal Plan for three quarters, with the combined cost of $3,179. The unlimited plan allowed me to eat whenever the dining halls were open, without worrying about using up all of my meals.  I've been keeping track, and I've used 161 meals which equates to $1,233.75 if I had paid for each meal myself. Each quarter there were 10 guest passes available, and I used all 30.
Meals, 146 (1,125 of 1,208), 176 (1327.5 of 1049), (1233.75 of 922)

Each student is given $25 a quarter for printing off of the school's printers. With black and white costing $0.05 and color $0.25, that's 500 and 100 pages, respectively. Out of the $75 available to me, I only used $38.10, and all in black and white (762 pages). If students run out of this free account, printing cards can be purchased and reloaded in the library.

At the beginning of the year I had a $100 gift card to the Associated Students Bookstore to buy things other than textbooks. All of this money was used to buy pens, pencils, paper, CDs, surge protectors, and a few other things I needed throughout the quarter. I found it was really good to have the card on me, as I didn't have to spend my cash--which could then be used to buy other things, like bowling or hot dogs in Bellingham.


  1. How much did you spend (per month) on discretionary items? (bowling, hot dogs, entertainment, etc.) Did you have a bank account that you made regular withdrawals from an ATM?
    If so, was the ATM on campus? How often did you make withdrawals?

  2. I wanna say like $50 a month? Things were pretty cheap, and if I didn't have a few dollars on me someone would spot me--a large group of friends helps.

    There are ATMs on campus, and from what I hear they are without fees.
    I was home or someone from their visited often enough to bring me cash. I also had a very handy AS Bookstore Gift Card. This was so helpful for little things I needed, like pencils, paper, folders, etc.
    This year I'll have the ability to draw from the ATMs, so we'll see how this changes my habits.