Is It Cheaper to Live on or Off-Campus?

Price of dwelling in a Dorm

Faculties use the time period “room and board” to calculate the price of housing and what they actually imply is meals and shelter. Room and board contains the price of a dorm room plus the common priced meal plan. Utilities are additionally included in that value; web ought to be coated by the free campus Wi-Fi and cable is normally free, although typically with a one-time connection payment of about $50.

Common value of room and board:

  • $8,887 per faculty yr at public faculties and universities
  • $10,089 per faculty yr at personal faculties and universities

Remember the fact that is just for the autumn and spring semester. Residence halls are closed for holidays. Thus, common room and board solely covers housing prices for about 9 months. That works out to $987/month at public universities and $1,121/month at personal universities.

If that value appears somewhat excessive and you continue to need your son or daughter on campus, have them apply to turn into a resident assistant (RA). Relying on the college, RA’s can get free room and board and in some circumstances a month-to-month stipend. The disadvantage is that it’s a must to police a complete flooring of school college students and tackle just a few different obligations that get time consuming.  Verify with campus housing for credit score and GPA necessities in case you are .


Laundry Amenities

Homestead, Meadow and Prairie Halls supply laundry amenities that combine with an app to pay-as-you-go. The app additionally gives notifications when your laundry cycle is full. Cash can be utilized for many who don’t need to use the app. Coin-operated washers and dryers can be found within the different residence halls for pupil use.

Selecting the Greatest Choice

When you contemplate each dwelling choices, contemplating the price of lease, meal plans, and different payments, in addition to the comfort of every, it’s time to decide. In lots of circumstances, it’s simpler to dwell on campus as a result of you may spend most of your time targeted in your schoolwork. It's additionally typically a good suggestion to dwell on campus your first yr as a result of it’ll allow you to type friendships, and it’s simpler to regulate to varsity life that manner.

However in case you are paying for college by your self, you might want to decide on essentially the most cheap possibility. In case you are working while attending school, your job might affect the place you reside and what sort of meal plan will work the most effective for you. The prices could also be shut sufficient that you could make the choice based mostly on comfort.

The prices of on-campus housing

On-campus housing is usually cheaper than renting a home or an condominium off campus — however not all the time. Relying on the housing market across the school, college students can typically discover nice offers. And like off-campus housing, there are prices to picking to dwell on campus that are not instantly apparent. 

Paying for housing

Whether or not it is cheaper than renting an condominium or not, staying within the school dorm prices cash. If in case you have the choice to dwell with household or associates and never pay lease in any respect (or simply pay a really small quantity),  you may drastically scale back the price of your school schooling.

See additionally: How Other People are Paying for College


Meal plans present you three sure meals a day, however you is perhaps paying for greater than you really eat. In case you by no means make it to the cafeteria in time for breakfast, you then’re paying for an additional meal day by day of the week.

You may additionally discover that the meals do not enchantment to your tastes or your wants, particularly when you’ve got particular dietary necessities — so you purchase meals on the grocery retailer or exit to eat anyway.

Be trustworthy about your habits, and analysis your choices. Some faculties mean you can do partial meal plans — like simply lunch or meals solely throughout weekdays. 

Educational schedules

At many faculties, you can not proceed dwelling within the dorm throughout faculty breaks or in the course of the summer time.

In case you’re not planning to dwell at residence throughout these breaks (for example, when you’ve got a neighborhood internship or job), you will want to search out short-term housing, which may typically be dearer or tough to search out than longer-term housing. 

Is it all the time cheaper off campus? No

New York Metropolis is without doubt one of the priciest and best rental markets, so college students attending school at extremely aggressive and costly establishments similar to New York College or Columbia College might breathe a sigh of aid figuring out they’ve on-campus dwelling choices. The truth is, the weekly room charge at Columbia’s freshman dorms is a few hundred {dollars} cheaper than one particular person’s share of lease on a median-priced two-person, two-bedroom condominium in Manhattan, in accordance with the June 2021 Elliman Report, a month-to-month rental market report. Nevertheless, the distinction is negligible between a number of of NYU’s freshman dorms and that very same median lease.

The COVID pandemic introduced with it slowed lease development and even declines in lots of city facilities, in accordance with knowledge from As of Might, some expensive metro areas together with New York Metropolis, San Francisco and San Jose are nonetheless seeing rents decrease than final yr. College students capable of freely take part in native rental markets might have been capable of lock in rents decrease than what they’d pay within the dorms, even in large cities.

These large cities typically have excessive housing costs, and college students in additional consultant school cities throughout the nation would doubtless discover extra comparable costs when weighing dorm prices in opposition to native leases.

App State is a public four-year school nestled within the mountains of Western North Carolina. It’s a beautiful place and a welcoming establishment. The mascot is a Mountaineer named Yosef sporting a flannel shirt and a beard, for crying out loud. And their soccer is a number of the finest. Go ‘Neers! The freshman dorm my daughter was assigned to in 2019-20 opened to college students in 1970 and doesn’t have air-con. The weekly charge there may be roughly $50 greater than that of 1 particular person’s share of a two-bedroom rental, in accordance with Census knowledge. Her sophomore yr, she managed to discover a shared four-bedroom residence, the place her portion of the lease is about $140 per week, and contains parking and all utilities.

Contemplate the Prices of Extras

One other factor to contemplate when deciding whether or not to dwell on or off-campus is the additional prices of dwelling for which you can be accountable. Usually, the dorm will cowl your entire utility prices and web charges. Your off-campus condominium will in all probability not. Contemplate how a lot every of those bills will value when evaluating the prices of those two dwelling choices.

Moreover, you might want to determine if you’ll need to pay further for transportation if you will dwell off-campus. If in case you have a automotive, you’ll need to pay for gas, insurance, and parking costs. In any other case, you might must pay for bus charges, until you might be inside strolling distance of the campus. Remember the fact that rents in residences nearer to campus will doubtless be increased since college students discover it a extra fascinating space. You may additionally must safe renters insurance coverage if dwelling in an off-campus condominium or home.

Pupil Mortgage Guidelines About Pupil Housing

If you have already got pupil loans, like a 529 plan or one other school financial savings plan, this may increasingly restrict the place you’re allowed to dwell. Some pupil loans have guidelines that govern the place college students dwell or how a lot cash is allotted to off-campus housing.  Typically the principles permit solely on-campus housing.

It is a difficult trade-off: you would possibly discover less-expensive housing off-campus, however you’d be paying out of pocket for it. Or you could possibly incur penalties by breaching the phrases of your pupil mortgage. That’s when it’s a must to determine whether or not or not it’s value it to scrape collectively the additional money for off-campus dwelling.

Typically, it’s simply simpler to swallow the phrases and situations of the scholar mortgage and dwell on campus in a dorm.

Getty Images | Ian Waldie
Getty Images | Ian Waldie

Does monetary assist cowl off-campus housing?

In case you plan to dwell off campus, you’ll want to point that when filing your FAFSA. The monetary assist calculations are completely different for college kids that dwell in off-campus housing.

You must also examine to verify your financial aid and tuition plans cowl off-campus housing. Direct pupil loans, 529 plans and pay as you go tuition plans have sure guidelines about how the cash is allowed for use.

Direct pupil loans are deposited immediately right into a pupil’s checking account, and the cash can be utilized for any bills associated to schooling together with off-campus dwelling.

A 529 plan can be utilized for off-campus housing for college kids which are enrolled in at the least half the hours that outline a fulltime pupil. However there’s a catch. For off-campus housing, the scholar can solely withdraw as much as the quantity the faculty or college budgets for within the room and board part of its value of attendance.

Some pay as you go tuition plans supplied by states even have dormitory plans that solely cowl the price of dwelling in dorms. Analysis your tuition plan to see if it covers off-campus housing. If it doesn’t, it’s best to be capable to request a refund.