When I started school, I was so excited to move into my college dorm. I knew it would be cramped, but I still had this idea of a quirky but fun living space.
When I got there, my room was a 100 square feet, shared with a roommate. The bathroom was shared with the rest of the hall — 30 other people — with four showers divided by mostly sheer curtains.
It wasn’t the inspirational, exciting vibe I was imagining. Considering that dorm living added thousands to my education costs, living in a tight, old space was an expensive luxury.
Despite the costs, living in the college dorm is a big part of the college experience. Dorm life can help you meet new people and engage in activities more easily. Whether or not it’s worth the cost to you is dependent on a number of factors.
1. Cost of a college dorm
My experience with university housing is typical. The average cost of room and board is $10,440 for a public school and $11,890 at private colleges.
Over the course of four years, living in a college dorm can add over $40,000 to your total cost of attendance. The additional cost can mean having to take out more in student loans to fill the gap.
When you add interest charges to the additional loan amount, dorm life can become even more expensive. Interest fees can add hundreds or even thousands to your balance over the length of your repayment term.
2. Financial aid conditions
While opting for the college dorm can be pricey, it has some trade-offs. When it comes to student loans and 529 savings plans, you may have limits on your housing choices. Some plans and loans have stipulations that require you to live on campus.
I found myself in that situation. While I could find an inexpensive apartment off-campus that was within walking distance, my scholarship and loans wouldn’t cover it. The documents specifically stated that I could only use my funds for on-campus housing, so I was stuck.
If you want to live off-campus, you may have to pay for your rent and living expenses out of your own pocket. Trying to find the additional money through a part-time job or private loans can add a significant burden, so sometimes campus living is the easier choice.
3. Average rental off-campus
Depending on where you go to school, dorms can be a downright bargain. For example, New York University has college dorms starting at just $7,922 for the academic year. By comparison, a tiny studio off-campus in the same area runs about $2,000 a month — nearly $18,000 for a nine-month lease.
Also consider that if you live off-campus in a traditional apartment, you often are responsible for a 12-month lease rather than a lease that only covers the school year. Even in a cheaper apartment, paying for an additional three months can make the off-campus options more expensive than a college dorm.
In an apartment, you are also responsible for utilities like electric, water, internet, and more. With a dorm, schools normally roll those costs into your fees.
Before making a decision, compare the cost of rentals off-campus with the cost of dorm living and lease terms. Depending on the school you’re attending and the city where you live, college dorms may be the better alternative.
4. Social opportunities
Another factor to consider when deciding whether or not to live in the college dorm is the social life. Dorm living can provide unique opportunities to meet new people and expand your social group.
Commuting to school or living at home doesn’t mean you won’t get to participate, but it does mean you’ll have to work harder to be part of the college community.
5. Living at home
If your chosen school is near your family and staying with them is an option, consider that route carefully. Skipping the dorm or off-campus housing can save you thousands every year. That can reduce the amount of debt you need to take out, decreasing your burden after graduation.
While living at home may not give you the same freedom as dorm living while you’re in school, it can pay off once you have your degree. With fewer loans to repay, you can afford to move into your own home faster. Sacrificing now can help you have a more secure future later.
Deciding whether or not to live on-campus
While room and board can add to your college costs, it can be a worthwhile experience. In some situations, it may even be the cheaper option. Use these factors to consider your options and make an informed decision.
For more information about reducing college costs, see why you should skip the college meal plan.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.57% – 6.98%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.80% – 6.22%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.57% – 8.17%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|