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Decisions- Pay for the on campus experience? Or save and commute.

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Replies to: Decisions- Pay for the on campus experience? Or save and commute.

  • shortnukeshortnuke Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    Have you compared what your costs will be with her commuting versus living on campus? In addition to continuing to provide food, you'll also have expenses for utilities, transportation and entertainment that will not apply if she lives on-campus. For example, how much will your car insurance drop each month if she doesn't bring a car to SDSU?

    Let's assume that you determine that if she lives at home and commutes you will spend $500/month that you will not spend if she goes to SDSU. I would then say that she needs to account for $14K rather than $20k per year.

    Schools generally publish average room and board costs (I'm assuming your using the school's estimates). Is she willing to accept a more budget-friendly housing option such as a triple room in a traditional dorm vs. a double in a suite-style dorm? Can she go with a lower cost meal plan?

    If she can go with a lower-priced housing/meal plan, she may be able so save ~$1K over the rates published by the school, dropping the amount that she needs to account for down to $13K.

    Can she work to make up the difference? Plenty of students take on part-time jobs during the school year as part of their "Campus Experience". I worked about 10 hrs/week when I was in school (full time over the summer) and although it wasn't fun, it definitely beat living at home and commuting!

    Let's assume she can work 10hrs/week during the academic year, and full-time over the summer at $10/hr. She would net ~$7K each year, leaving ~$6K per year to borrow. I think that's a reasonable amount.

    Living on campus is more than just an experience. It's a matter of convenience and flexibility that I definitely think can impact success and opportunities. For example, she can expect to have group assignments in classes. If the group wants to meet later in the evening and needs to work past midnight to get an assignment completed, it's a rather trivial issue if she lives on campus. If she's commuting, this means a late night drive home possibly followed by an early morning drive back in the next morning.

  • greenbuttongreenbutton Registered User Posts: 2,289 Senior Member
    edited April 20
    This is a practical decision. If you wanted a Mercedes really really badly, but only had money for a nice Ford sedan, would you consider debt for that? If she commutes, she will still live a full and happy life. I would agree together that she will commute with as much independance you can give her -- and revisit the idea each year. I live in a college town where it is very common for locals to commute for a year, or two, and then get an apartment to acquire life skills. It doesn't seem to impact their social life or group projects unless they want it to.

    Debt is a big burden, to be avoided when possible. I would invest in upgrades for her living space at home, to signify her new status as a college adult, and give her free rein as she would have in a dorm. But with another student to go, and grad school for thhis one? commute makes the most sense, even if it feels disappointing. You are a good mom.
  • 1art1science1art1science Registered User Posts: 51 Junior Member
    On campus freshman year to meet friends. Commute all other years to save money.
  • shortnukeshortnuke Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    Another possibility would be for her to become an RA after her freshman year. RA's typically get free room and board (a private room) along with a small monthly stipend.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,990 Senior Member
    edited April 21
    Dorm RA jobs can be competitive, so there is no assurance that she will get one.
  • ConsolationConsolation Registered User Posts: 21,643 Senior Member
    I find the numbers at these helpful links provided by ucbalumnus somewhat surprising and somewhat puzzling.

    In both cases they seem to estimate the "additional costs" for someone living at home *without a car* at roughly $10K. That seems high to me. If your kid is occupying the same bedroom they always have it isn't magically going to cost you hundreds more per month in additional costs. They seem to be assuming that the kid will start paying their parents a substantial rent. Unless the family was planning to rent the room out if the kid went away to college, this really isn't a cost to the family. Food, maybe.

    I'd be intrigued by Purple Titan's suggestion in #15: 2 yrs at CC living at home followed by 2 yrs living at a UC?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,990 Senior Member
    In both cases they seem to estimate the "additional costs" for someone living at home *without a car* at roughly $10K. That seems high to me. If your kid is occupying the same bedroom they always have it isn't magically going to cost you hundreds more per month in additional costs.

    They are probably assuming some of those costs as continuation of costs that parents spend to support the student while in high school (food, utilities, transportation including use of car / car insurance, clothing and similar items, spending for sports and social/extracurricular activities, etc.). These costs are non-zero, although since they are scattered around various categories of household budget, it is not necessarily obvious what their total is. Of course, they can also vary greatly from one family to another.

    But also, some of these additional costs include books for college, which SDSU assumes will be $1,854. SDSU lists "room and board" at $4,316 for commuter students living with parents; presumably, this means food and utilities. Transportation and misc are listed at $1,542 and $1,450 respectively.
  • shortnukeshortnuke Registered User Posts: 248 Junior Member
    @Consolation Food is definitely part of the $10K. I'd guess that our D's share of our grocery and dining spend comes to over $400/month, which lines up with the SDSU estimate for food/housing.

    I think SDSU grossly underestimates transportation costs, which CSULB maybe addresses better in their generic "Additional Costs" number. Unless you happen to live in a location where access to public transportation between home and school is a viable option, or you can carpool with other students, I think a car will be a must.

    When D got her driver's license, our insurance went up $175 a month (and we did not change or add any vehicles). If she goes to school more than 50 miles from us and doesn't bring her car, our insurance will drop $150/month. If she were to commute, she would need her own car. Add in additional insurance for the car and the cost of fuel, parking and maintenance and you're easily looking at spending $500 or more each month that you wouldn't be spending if she lived on campus (with no car).
  • ConsolationConsolation Registered User Posts: 21,643 Senior Member
    edited April 21
    I saw that. I still think it's high. ( IME cost of books is often overstated, possibly depending on the major.) I think there is a possibility that parents can be unrealistically frightened by those figures if they don't closely examine the assumptions. BTW, it doesn't help that the CSULB table includes a double asterisk without a corresponding item below. One is left to wonder whether the single asterisk explanation is intended to apply. :)

    ETA: cross posted with shortnuke
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