• I was really surprised when I read this. I assumed it would be cheaper to stay on campus than renting. I lived 20 minutes away from my school and I commuted to school so I had no idea how much it cost.

    • The other thing about meal plans is that they make you buy so much more than you need. I always saw students in school that used to give meals away at the end of the semester because they had way too many meals left and didn’t want the school to keep the money.

  1. Like you, I believe college is a necessity for most, even though a lot of people question that wisdom because of the costs. However, the question isn’t “should I attend college?” the questions should be, “What is the best way to finance it and avoid taking on significant debt?”

    I always suggest people consider the following options to avoid/limit student loan debt: military service, college savings plans and community colleges.

  2. Interesting. I lived on campus for 3.5 years and enjoyed that time. I moved off campus the last 1.5 year and found the cost to be about the same. Maybe things have changed now.

    • I’m not sure how much has changed and I can’t comment from personal experience because I commuted to school (lived at home). Even though the researchers found this to be true 99% of the time, they only show the top 25 schools. There’s probably not that much difference in other places.

  3. Makes sense that you can cut costs buy living on your own. As a freshman I would have found this tough. I was dealing with so much change as it was just by leaving home, I’d have had a tougher time had I needed to manage an apartment. In addition, I think it would be easy to miss out a bit on building relationships. Dorm life really can move that facet of college along. It would be tougher to connect if I was headed back to my apt. by myself each night. Good stuff Aldo!

    • Yes, as a freshman living on your own would be tough. But after you get to know the area and have a small idea of what you need to do, you can do it and you’ll be fine.

  4. I always lived off campus when I was in college, and I found it much more affordable. At first we rented a house, and then we bought one. Either way, it was still cheaper. I know someone who paid over $1,000 a month for her dorm. INSANE!

  5. I’m not surprised by this. I was lucky and lived with my parents through undergrad. My mistake was that I worked all throughout college but just spent all my money because I didn’t have to pay rent. D’oh! I also lived off campus for grad school, as the NYU apartments are crazy expensive.

  6. This is a great and enlightening infographic, and it’s important to compare housing costs especially with the rising tuition costs. I went to school a million years ago (18) and it was cheaper to live on campus than off for me, but that was because there were not many rentals around my school and you needed to pay all year to keep them vs just school months.

    • That’s a good point. People should see if they could rent for part of the year and not the whole year. Unless they plan to go to school in the summer as well.

  7. I didn’t live on campus and I’m sure it would have sent me into even more debt. However, I did use a lot of gas driving back and forth 3 days a week.

  8. Interesting!! I would have definitely thought it would have been cheaper to live on campus. Wow!! The difference is HUGE, too. Thanks for sharing!!

  9. I lived at home through university so I missed out on all this bonding stuff everyone keeps bringing up.

    Another point is that here in Ontario, you get a tax break for off campus housing, so it’s an even bigger difference here.

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