How much "allowance" for college freshman living in the dorm

I have a college freshman going off to college who will be living in the dorms on campus with a full meal plan.  She will not have a car.  I would like advice from other parents about how much spending money she will need for items such as laundry, toiletries, occasional outings, public transportation, snacks, and other items.  She was actually in boarding school prior to college and we gave her $200 per month, which seemed to get spent on snacks, Starbucks, laundry, using uber for transportation when in the city, a few items from amazon, and gifts for family members for the holidays.  I'm thinking she will have more expenses in college, but I also want her to get used to managing money more closely and recognizing that she has to "live within her means" and should choose not to buy coffee at Starbucks if she can get it at the dining hall or make it in her dorm room.  She has worked this summer in a minimum wage job, so will have a small amount of savings (if she doesn't spend it all!).  I have friends who say they don't give their college age kids any allowance and they let them know their summer earnings are to be used for spending money during the school year.  On one shopping excursion my daughter recently went on, she bought  2 pair of sandals and a small purse (Tory Burch and Kate Spade), and for a cost of $540 (even as sale items)!  I asked if she spent her entire first paycheck on these items!  I grew up with parents who experienced the depression, were generally frugal by nature, and we rarely bought brand name items and Starbucks didn't exist back then.  I am seeking advice from other parents who have experience with helping their young adults learn to manage money, especially during the college years.

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Why not stick with $200 until/unless she indicates she has more expenses than that -- and explains what they are?  It sounds as though your daughter may need some limits to learn what is feasible.  When she graduates and has a job (you hope) and is paying rent and buying groceries, she's not going to be buying Kate Spade (except maybe at an outlet store). 

Our kids got no spending money from us.  We helped with tuition; the rest was on them, to cover with their earnings from work.  They had a credit card attached to our account, which they occasionally used -- but always with advance approval.  We never had an issue and they both learned to be responsible with their money.  They are boys, and not into stuff, so it was easy.  But if your daughter is in a position to help herself to $540 designer items on your dime, you need to wean her of that -- fast.

She's living in the dorms with a full meal plan: food and shelter are covered.  Time for her to get a job and learn how to manage her money. 

You'll be doing her a huge favor if you show her you expect her to learn to support herself and make wise decisions. 

Holy cow! She spent some $500 in ONE shopping spree? That seems like an outrageous amount of money. My freshman in college spent that in 4 months. Really, you want your child to feel like she can spent that much? While homeless people sleep all around her, and she made minimum wage?

My son is the same age as your daughter and I have the same question. I posted the question to the Dean of Student Affairs of his university when he came to town for the parent/student meeting. He also mentioned $200/month after room/board and books. He has a daughter who goes to the same school in a major city of the east cost, things are generally more expensive there. According to the dean, most students at the university have part time jobs (his daughter was a tour guide) to supplement college expenses. My son will be the first in our family to attend the university so i am looking for guidance too. Like your daughter, my son has a minimum wage job for the summer, but he blew it off on useless but fun things. He claims that he can make money in college if needed. I cannot wait to send him off in only 20 more days.

We allot our daughter $75/mo. spending money at her expensive private liberal arts college. That's in addition to the basics of room and board and health coverage and travel home for intersessions and $600/semester for books and supplies (which is not always enough but sometimes more than). About $25 of the $75 goes for her laundry (the machines in the dorm are expensive!) which leaves her $50/mo. for toiletries, haircuts, extra clothes, food when she can't get to the cafeteria (that does happen because of some class schedules), gifts, and local transportation & entertainment; she has to be quite frugal about all of these things. One disadvantage of an expensive private school is that most of the students there have a lot more spending money; if they didn't, I'm sure she could get away with somewhat less because she wouldn't feel obliged to pay for occasional movies and pizza just to be able to hang out with friends. (On the other hand, she gets a lot of nice discarded clothes for free.) 

She does have a job on campus, but all the money she makes is counted towards her overall budget (which means she has to keep track of the balance, and we seldom actually transfer money to her). We do it this way because she has a workstudy award so what she makes is already calculated by the school as part of her financial aids budget, intended to cover basic expenses - but I believe the reasoning is sound and that she should be contributing what she can for college in any case, keeping the overall budget in mind and not wasting her income on unnecessary extras. She's almost always too busy with school to shop, anyway, and she knows we are doing what we can, so she does not complain (well, not very often). So that's our situation - good luck figuring out yours!