Is it Cheaper to Live On or Off Campus?

When you are preparing to go to college, you may be questioning whether it is cheaper to live on or off campus as you consider your living arrangements. Many students picture college life as it is depicted on sitcoms and in movies, but in reality dorm life is not always the first or best option. You need to consider the rules of the dorm rooms, the cost of staying in the dorm, and even the costs that must be paid when you live elsewhere and must commute to school. If you are paying for room and board on your own or your parents are helping you cover the costs, learn about the average cost for occupancy with on-campus and off-campus housing.

How Much Does it Cost to Live On Campus?

There are many joys and also many frustrations that can come with dorm life. On-campus living allows you to completely immerse yourself in school and the campus environment. Immersing yourself in the environment does come at a cost, but that cost is much lower for students who are granted scholarships to attend the university. Some student loans may only be applied to on-campus living expenses because the payment is made directly to the school.

The cost to reside on campus depends entirely on the university. Some schools may only allow freshmen and sophomore students to live on campus because there is a shortage in their housing supply. In schools where there are dorm rooms available for occupancy, the cost for a room can range anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 per year with the average coming in at $8,535 per year.

Additional Board Costs On Campus

The cost of the room is not the only cost to consider. You should also check to see what is included in the expenses. Most dorms include Internet, cable, utilities and sometimes even three hot meals each day in the cafeteria. You must check to see if cafeteria credit is included in the cost of board or if this is paid separately.

The Costs of Living Off Campus

There are some cons to living on campus. You may have a curfew, strict rules to follow and need to share a small room and community bathrooms. If you would much rather live in a house or a student apartment, you need to really set a budget and research the costs. The cost of rent in a college town will depend on the city and the size of the city. In smaller areas where the cost of living is lower, the cost to share a rental could be similar to the cost of an annual dorm occupancy.

In larger areas, dorms are almost always the more affordable option. This is because you have to pay for meals, cable, Internet and even transportation to the campus. You must also consider the cost of gas, insurance and parking permits if you own a vehicle.

Deciding where to live can be a very difficult choice. If you are strictly focused on the financial advantages of living on or off campus, then you will need to consider where you are attending school (please see: The 30 College Towns With the Cheapest Cost of Living). In some areas, the costs can be similar. But if you are looking for an answer to the question “Is is cheaper to live on or off campus?”, the answer is typically on campus.