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Housing options for the College Years

Aug 01, 2018

Parents taking a look at housing for their college students transitioning out of high school will notice the different options come with pros and cons. It’s best to weigh the options by considering the personal and social needs of your student while staying on budget for your family. Understanding the details will keep you from getting overwhelmed! Let’s take a closer look.

Living on campus:

Opting to live on campus places students in the middle of school. Freshman year is the time for them to evolve socially and make new connections. Living in a dorm gives students the opportunity to socialize and bond with many students who are going through the same experience.

Living on-campus is often made mandatory by many colleges as an incoming freshman. Instead of receiving a monthly bill, all the costs are in the semester bill.

Dorms also have housing offices and RA’s, which are two useful features for many students. These services also offer parents peace of mind, knowing their student will be safe and accounted for. Housing offices often have many appliances that students can borrow based on their needs. They also connect students to the maintenance department to fix common problems such as a clogged sink or a broken fridge.

RA’s live in the dorms and inform students about on-campus events, policies, and procedures. Although being an RA comes with a lot of responsibility it has its perks. The most valuable perk is the ability to live for free in a single room on-campus. Some colleges give their RAs free parking and food. Being an RA might be the right decision if you’d like to gain leadership skills while cutting out the cost of housing.

If on-campus housing fits your student’s needs then it is important to make sure it also fits your financial needs. The best way to figure out what housing option is the most practical for you is to do research. Colleges calculate the cost of housing as part of the Cost of Attendance or COA. Depending on where your student’s college is located will determine if living on-campus is the cheapest and most practical option. If it is not, look to live off-campus or commute from home depending on the proximity from your house to the college you select.

Living off campus:

After freshman year students may decide they no longer want to live on campus. They may feel familiar with their school surroundings and ready to take on the responsibility of living off campus.  One of the major benefits of living off campus is that it prepares students for the future. Students are responsible for cleaning, cooking, paying bills and buying groceries. There are no RAs watching over them or strict university policies to follow.

Living off campus grants many new freedoms that student don’t have while living in a dorm. For example, they can choose the location and layout they want, along with their roommate.  Most students who live off campus choose to have their own room, which means more privacy and space. Leading to fewer distractions and better study habits.

Although living away from campus can limit distractions, it can also lead to a sense of isolation. Students are no longer in the middle of campus and surrounded by their peers. If walking isn’t convenient, alternative transportation such a public transportation or a bike will have to be used.

The cost of living off campus depends largely on location.

Commuting from home:

If you live close enough to your child’s school they may have the ability to commute from home. Having a familiar place to return to after a long day of classes can ease the college stress. Aside from this, the ultimate perk of living at home is that it reduces the financial burden of having to pay for new housing. But keep in mind commuting to school requires you to pay for transportation, which can become expensive over time.

Living at home may save a lot of money, but may not provide the same college experience. Commuting students often don’t learn the same lessons of independence provided by living away from home.