2

Example with a context (Students Use Clickers to Help Guide College Lectures):

Unfortunately "buy" is exactly what the students have to do on most campuses. The clickers cost around $25 each, and in most cases the students purchase them along with their books. But since there are several programs available, mostly offered by text book publishers, one clicker will not necessarily fit all.

So if a bunch of profs are using different programs, it may be necessary to buy several clickers, thus running the exploding education tab up for the folks back home.

I don't think I understand what that means.

3

Here tab is tab definition 2:

noun (US, informal)
1) a bill or check, as for expenses
2) total cost or expenses

So education tab refers to the amount spent on educational expenses.

Another usage is when you do not pay (for example at a bar) for the beer you drink. The bartender would then keep a tab which tracks how much you owe, to be paid later.

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