Over the past decade, room-and-board costs at four-year public universities have gone up roughly 25 percent above inflation. That's according to data from the College Board, which tracks college costs.
"The bottom line is the cost of room and board at colleges have gone up far more than the cost of rooms in the private economy," says Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
For example, the total cost of living and eating at UNC Chapel Hill is almost $11,000 a year. Compare that with the University of California, Berkeley, where room and board costs more than tuition, at around $14,000.
College Board data show that the average cost for room and board at a four-year public institution is $9,804. Average tuition is a bit lower at $9,139 (in state).
Part of the reason why room-and-board charges are up is because electricity and water costs and employee salaries have gone up.
Universities also need money to make sure the buildings are in good shape, so students don't trip on broken stairwells or get stuck in elevators.
When you have a building that was built in 1793 that is still an active residence hall, obviously that takes some money to keep it moving.
Many schools require that first-years live in a dorm to help build a sense of community and encourage them to do well academically.
Many students end up migrating to off campus apartments after their first or second year for a different pace and lifestyle. But the percentage of sophomores living on campus has gone down over the years.
Competition From Private Developers
That decline has something to do with the growing number of properties off campus that house students.
"The student housing market has grown like a weed over the last 25 years," says Randy Shearin, editor of the magazine Student Housing Business.
Private developers are enticing students with flashy apartment amenities and comforts they expect to see at home.
Some of the luxury apartments target wealthier students, but, depending on the market, some of them can cost less than or as much as dorms.
Excertps - NPR.org