When people talk about the rising cost of college, they usually focus on how much tuition has spiked.
If you’re willing to skip the on-campus experience, you can save thousands of dollars each year by avoiding the dorms.
While you may lose out on the convenience of living on-campus, the benefits can offset the losses. Off-campus housing is often much less expensive than school-offered rooms, so you can avoid taking out more debt.
What to consider before switching to off-campus housing
While you can save a lot of money by moving off campus, there are some areas where it’s not feasible. Before making the switch, compare the cost of college housing with the average rental cost in your area.
In some expensive cities, such as New York, staying on campus is much more affordable. Do the math to ensure you’re making a wise decision.
Living with roommates
Part of the college experience is living with roommates. While it may not be ideal, rooming with someone else does cut down on your expenses drastically.
If you are planning to go off campus, price out a one-bedroom versus a two- or three-bedroom unit you would share with roommates. It may be less expensive to get a bigger place with a few friends.
If living with other people makes you wary, keep in mind that it’s easier to share a living space when you have your own bedroom, rather than the traditional dorm setup. Coexisting in an apartment where you can escape to a private place is much more comfortable.
If you haven’t lived with roommates before, it can be a wonderful learning and bonding experience.
If you switch to university off-campus housing, consider the cost of transportation. Some schools offer shuttles for off-campus students, but not all do. Public transportation can be a cheap option to get to school, if available.
If not, driving to school can get expensive, particularly if you have to pay a parking fee or get a garage membership.
Dorms include the cost of utilities like electricity and water into their bill; off-campus apartments likely will not.
The utility bill can come as a shock, so add a line item on your budget for those expenses when comparing the costs of dorms and off-campus housing. Include electric, water, sewer, trash, and cable (thought your landlord may cover some of those).
One of the biggest areas you can save money is on food. College meal plans can be extremely pricey, and much of it may go unused. By living in an apartment with a full refrigerator and stove, you can cook your own meals and save hundreds of dollars.
In many college towns, landlords are willing to work with students and offer nine-month leases instead of the standard year-long contract. That keeps you from paying rent over the summer when you’re not there.
In areas that are in demand, you may be able to rent off-campus apartments for the full year and sublet it out over the summer. Make sure to check with the landlord to ensure she allows subletting. If she approves, subletting can be a simple way to pay for a great apartment.
Where to find off-campus housing
If you discover that it makes financial sense to move off campus, there are many resources that act as the perfect off-campus apartment finder.
Your college’s resident and housing services department may have a listing of area rentals that are specifically for students. They can be a great resource for affordable housing that is student-friendly.
College news site ULoop has an extensive classifieds section full of people renting out apartments and students looking for off-campus roommates. You can search by your location or by your school.
College Rentals allows you to search by your area and use filters to narrow down your search. Find pet-friendly apartments or rentals within walking distance to your school.
While Craigslist has its share of scams and fake listings, it also has legitimate deals for college students. If you find a place that seems like a fit, make sure you bring someone with you to view it. If possible, ask for references from past tenants, and never rent a unit sight unseen.
Moving to off-campus housing
In many places, you can save thousands of dollars each year by moving out of the dorms. Off-campus housing can get you more for your money, helping you cut down on student loan debt while giving you more freedom and autonomy. Do the math to see if off-campus apartments are worth it for you.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|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 3.36% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.82% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.41% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% 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 April 17, 2019, 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 04/17/2019. 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 our student 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 SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
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.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.45% effective May 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.41% – 6.99%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.41% – 7.89%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.38% – 6.81%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.41% – 8.19%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.60% – 9.60%6||Undergrad & Graduate|