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Damage Bills and Other Hidden Fees: Why Colleges are Money Pits

Updated on September 29, 2011

College tuition is expensive - that goes without saying. Private schools are generally more expensive than public schools. However, state-run colleges take in their share of extra revenue by charging hidden fees at will. Much of this money comes from damage bills charged to students living in the dorms, and they don't even have to have done anything to incur them. There is also a broad sense of what counts as "damage." Given the irresponsible behavior of college-age students and the ongoing policy of using peer pressure by punishing all for the misdeeds of one (which doesn't work, as I have said before), you may want to think twice before deciding to live on campus.

Janitorial expenses are usually the normal damages people are charged for. In common areas, everyone on that floor may be charged if no single person is caught or owns up to making the mess (this also includes accidental sick - no mercy, remember?). Even if you do leave your dorm room exactly the way you found it when you move out, they still might charge you for whatever they feel they are dissatisfied with. Perhaps it was only the college I attended and lived at, but it seemed like for all the damages that happened in-house, nothing was ever fixed and each new resident was charged for the same thing that they had nothing to do with. At a college in which a new dorm had been built (along with a new student center and library), it seemed like all the old dorms were left to fall into disrepair while the students living in them continued footing the bill.

For all you miscreants out there, think twice before pulling pranks. Everyone on the floor gets charged if signs go missing off doors and bulletin boards. They take that stuff seriously. Even if someone accidentally brushes up against one on a wall in a crowded, narrow hallway and one of those curlicue borders breaks off, guess who's responsible? You and everyone else in the vicinity. They don't care. They just want your money and they'll get it by any means necessary. It's the same principle that governs textbook sales - they'll buy your books back at a low price or not at all because new editions keep getting cranked out with the exact same information so they can keep selling them at a higher price. The application process is the same way - I once had to resubmit my application because my high school had an outdated form and the only thing that changed was that the fee had gone up, so all I had to do was fill out the same information a second time and pay them more money. What a load.

If you love knowledge and want a career that would require some sort of advanced degree, a college education is the right choice. The best part is the most essential, that being the actual learning. Everything else from applying to actually paying for every little last thing they can think to tack onto your bill is where it all can go wrong. It's the bureaucracy of it all that can drive a person insane if the stress of earning a college degree and having to live in this crazy world we call society doesn't get to you first. Living on campus can be fun, but do so only if you must and at your own risk.


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