When students move off campus they may miss the variety of dining hall meals. But even if the food options shrink, often the student’s budget won't.
Moving to a two-bedroom apartment in Roanoke, VA will offer the chance to live and eat more cheaply, and have more independence from university-controlled housing. With rent shared by friends and lower food costs, students can save more money, even after buy some second-hand furniture and dishes.
"Given the cost of tuition, a lot of students are eager to look for ways to save money. If moving off campus is a cheaper alternative than the dorms, that alone is enough to justify the decision," said the biology major.
If moving off campus is a cheaper alternative than the dorms, that alone is enough to justify the decision.
Many students at public and private colleges are facing these decisions as the average costs of room and board are rising at rates double that of general inflation. Those higher living costs are increasing student debt and, experts say, leading students to enroll at commuter schools instead of out-of-town options that might be a better academic fit.
Housing and food costs on most campuses continue to rise without the public attention given to tuition hikes. Tuition may not rise as fast, but on-campus room and board can outweigh tuition at many schools.
Room and board bills have been steadily increasing between 2.5% and 3% a year at many schools across the country.
Electricity goes up, water prices go up, union salaries go up and you have to worry about deferred maintenance," said Ellett, senior associate vice president of student affairs at New York University, where he helps oversee dorms. In addition, costs are boosted by new dorm construction and amenities, such as gyms or kitchen upgrades that colleges add to compete with other schools.
Financial aid at many colleges and universities can help cover tuition as well as room and board if students prove a qualifying need. But for those who don't get enough aid, living costs are "a real issue, a huge issue".
By living off-campus, you have more control over your food costs, and you don't have to adjust your schedule to dining hall hours.