Calculating Your Cost of Room and Board in College
The cost of college is a much discussed topic these days. Soaring tuition costs, stagnant wages, and the cost of living all contribute to how much you’ll be able to pay and the amount of debt – if any – you’ll be saddled with after attending college.
While tuition is certainly a large factor in determining your college’s final price tag, calculating your room and board expenses in advance will help you understand the true cost of attending college. Depending on a number of factors such as location and the cost of living, room and board costs can easily double the cost of your education.
Room and Board Expenses: Location, Location, Location
The costs of living while in college depend largely on the same factors as the costs of living after college. Just as in post-college life, the final amount you will pay over the years you attend college depends on your location more than anything else. Living in a private apartment in or near a big city will cost far more than living in a shared dorm room on campus.
- Room and board on campus. A part of the true college experience, living in shared dorm room on campus will save you a lot of money. You will also be immersed in the community of your classmates, have easier access to educational resources provided by your school, and have greater support during the transition from living at home to living on your own. Being surrounded by peers to study with and learn from may help with your studies and keep you focused on your education rather than be bogged down by bills, grocery shopping, meal planning, and other concerns of basic life, which can be overwhelming when added to your course load.
Having a cafeteria and meal plan means you not only don’t have to shop, cook or clean, but you don’t even have to think about it. Don’t forget the added savings and peace of mind of not being responsible for utilities, cleaning supplies, transportation costs, and many of the other unforeseen or hidden costs of regular life outside of your parents’ nest. You will, however, have to abide by community rules, which can feel restrictive for some.
- Room and board off campus Living off campus can be fun and liberating. There are no rules off campus for quiet hours, pets, friends, and visitors in your living space or how you spend your time at home. But with greater freedom comes with greater responsibility. While living off campus affords greater freedom, the freedom of living off campus often comes at a higher price, both in cost and responsibility. You will have to be responsible for paying directly for utilities, food, rent, security deposits, transportation, insurance, and many other costs that come with adulthood.
As in post-college life, your room and board expenses will depend on your location more than any other single factor. Your expenses will vary widely based on whether you live in an urban or a rural area. Urban areas are usually more expensive because of rent and bills, of course, but you might end up spending more money socially as well. The closer you are to a city, the closer you will be to all the things cities offer. When it comes to entertainment options like concerts and restaurants, cities offer you more choices, which might mean you wind up going out more than you can afford to.
Most schools will give you an estimate of what room and board cost. Duke University puts its room and board estimate at $14,690 for the 2015-16 school year.
Since the cost of room and board in college can clearly be substantial, it’s important that students seek out scholarships and loans to help make their college experience financially feasible.
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