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 could 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 could save thousands of dollars each year by moving out of the dorms. Off-campus housing could 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 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 5.99%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.84%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.91% – 5.25%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.53%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.17% – 4.47%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews! |
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.
2 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 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% 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 October 26, 2020, 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 10/26/2020. 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 [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 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.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. 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 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
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.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.