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Reasonable monthly allowance for a college student

UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1031 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
With all the fixed college costs, tuition, apartment rent, utilities, gas for the car, books, university fees, etc., paid for, what monthly allowance do you, as parents, think is reasonable monthly amount for a college student to live on for meals and entertainment in the Los Angeles area or any high cost large metropolitan city? S, attends college in LA, is a moderate eater, but sometimes likes to go out with friends. Is $600, $700, or $800 enough or some other amount? For example, $700 per month is about $23 per day.
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Replies to: Reasonable monthly allowance for a college student

  • doschicosdoschicos 20850 replies216 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Will the student be on a meal plan separate from this allowance?
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1300 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For Los Angeles, I would start out around $400 a month and see if this is enough and then adjust accordingly. IMO, everything is more expensive than you budget for and there are those special trips throughout the school year (i.e. skiing in Big Bear, concerts, Uber trips to Hollywood, misc items like occasionally eating out at a nice restaurant, coffee at Starbucks, and sundries that you didn't plan for.
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  • cshell2cshell2 408 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    Does he have to buy all his own meals for that? Otherwise $800/month seems like a fortune to me. But, we don't spend that as a family in a month for food and entertainment.

    I'm not giving my son any allowance in college, but he'll have a meal plan. Any extra money is on him. He should start out the first year with a couple thousand in savings from his job and can get an on campus job for personal spending if he wants more.
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 3935 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There are lots of posts about this.
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  • gpo613gpo613 322 replies21 threadsRegistered User Member
    One idea is to use the baseline of a school meal plan for an amount to give him.

    Sounds like the kid will have a fun college experience.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77690 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What does the college's suggested student budget say?
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  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom 1171 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Agree with @toomanyteens. S17 is off campus this year; we bought a $500 meal pass that get him 30 swipes and about $150 in school bucks; his summer money is for his eating outside of that and buying groceries/beer/whatever i don't know about won't hurt me!
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  • Darcy123Darcy123 255 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    If he's in an apartment, I'm assuming all meals are on him. My son easily eats $400 a month of home cooked meals - keeping in mind he's an athlete - so not really a "moderate" eater. I'd probably budget $500 a month.
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  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1031 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    He is not on a college meal plan like last year when he was in university housing. This proposed monthly allowance is to cover all his meals while he is living with roommates in a privately run apartment plus any entertainment.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 20850 replies216 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Then, I think you are in the right ballpark given what you want to cover IMO, $600-700 or so. You can start on the low end and increase if needed.

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  • NCKrisNCKris 208 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    A good rule of thumb is to budget the same amount as the college meal plan. It may turn out to be slightly below that. DS at another big city college typically spends around 500 for 2 meals eating out (bfast is usually cereal). It is higher than what I spend for my family, but students don't have as much time for meal prep and planning and grocery shopping other than the basics.
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  • thumper1thumper1 74227 replies3248 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Does this student have a job?
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 38093 replies2086 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    This year my D, a senior, will be living in school housing but it’s a townhouse. I will reimburse her for grocery store bills and give her $30/week to go out a couple of times.
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  • eb23282eb23282 515 replies16 threadsRegistered User Member
    $23 per day? That's gonna buy a lot of beer and pizza
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 1823 replies6 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 16
    Wow. There’s a New York parents thread where $200-$250 seems to be considered a decent allowance, many get less, and I’m sure LA is not significantly more expensive than NYC to have fun in. The general feeling seems to be that if that isn’t enough the kid should get a part time job.
    $23 a day sounds like going out just about every night, given all normal expenses are already covered. I don’t think that’s reasonable for a college kid.
    Edit: ok, I just saw the follow up post that this pays for food as well. That’s hard to tell without knowing preferences (red meat? Vegan?) and ability to bulk buy etc. I give my kid a credit card for necessary groceries along with school stuff, and an allowance/make up job for the fun stuff. ( If the grocery bill starts showing caviar and champagne, we’ll have a chat.)
    edited August 16
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  • ChillDadChillDad 230 replies20 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Hopefully, our pampered progeny will repay our largesse when we are retired. As other posters have said, I would tie any "allowance" along the lines of what the college meal plan total is. Other discretionary spending (entertainment; leisure activities) is on the student. We insisted that both our kids have "skin in the game" - summer employment or a part-time job.
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  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum 1031 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    S does not plan to work to maintain a high GPA for law school. He has a full schedule outside of college. He will have a non paid internship with a law firm, tutor middle school students near campus and participate in a couple of school clubs and church.

    We decided to start him at $650 per month and monitor his spending. A full meal plan at school averages about $785 per month. In theory, apartment living, when shopping at the market for groceries, is cheaper than dining out for meals everyday. Anyway, he'll have use of my credit card for gas, haircuts, emergencies, etc.

    Thanks everyone for responding.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22655 replies15 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    He will have a non paid internship with a law firm,

    Private firms are supposed to pay workers, unless he's getting credit through the school.
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