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Prices for Room & Board

Yankeefan20Yankeefan20 198 replies6 threads Junior Member
What is a good or fair price for it? If any of your kid(s) were to attend a school that's no more than an hour away, at what price would you decide that you'd rather have them commute? How would you decide if the dorms are worth it to pay any price for room&board?
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Replies to: Prices for Room & Board

  • bgbg4usbgbg4us 1607 replies46 threads Senior Member
    R&B is pricey for sure. It's more than tuition at every state school in our state. Of kids we know, about half live on campus, and half live at home while attending the public U in our city.

    Things to consider: check into the rules with your school. Lots have rules about first time freshmen; eg: if you live 30 Minutes or farther away = mandatory on campus; or 19 or older = choice of apartment or on campus. Some meal plans may be cheaper to help with costs . And AOTC tax credits can't be used for dorm life.

    We've found that after the first year on campus, it is a bit cheaper to live in an apartment or rent a house - so remember that as you budget down the road.

    For our kids, we've paid for the dorm at a school 1 hr away. There's something fun about being in a dorm, and both of us have fond memories of it from 30 years ago when we were in college. But with everything going on right now, there's no right or wrong. good luck!


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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10193 replies119 threads Senior Member
    There is no right answer here. It’s what your family can afford and what the going rate is at the school your child picks.

    There is high variability in room and board cost depending on not just location but even dorm type within the same school.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78312 replies3528 threads Senior Member
    Crunch the numbers. Commuting an hour each way isn’t free. Will require the use of public transportation or a car (with all the associated car expenses...but add a college parking permit to that). It will be less costly than $10,000 or more per year in room and board unless you need to buy that car.

    In addition, add two hours of time commuting to the student schedule.

    And lastly, if your student has already been accepted, check the cost of attendance for commuters vs resident students. If your kid is getting need based aid, that might be reduced if he or she commutes.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    edited May 25
    An hour is a long commute. If it is by car, you have to factor in the cost of gas, insurance, and wear-and-tear on the car as well as the extra food cost (the "board" part of R&B does actually buy you something).

    And obviously the student would miss out on the live-away college experience and waste a lot of time on commuting. I forged my friendship with my best friend from college late night at an engineering computer lab after we closed it down at 11PM (we worked there). There's stuff like that and dorm life that the student would miss out on.

    College isn't just about what goes on the classroom or picking up credits for a degree. If that was the case, in many cases, an online degree would suffice.
    edited May 25
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  • tsicklestsickles 35 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Something else to consider is class schedules. My second semester of college I had a lab that met Mondays 8-11pm. I also had a class that met Tuesday and Thursday from 8-10am. Not a big deal while living on campus, but it wouldn't have been doable if I had an hour long commute each way.
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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 562 replies7 threads Member
    tsickles wrote: »
    Something else to consider is class schedules. My second semester of college I had a lab that met Mondays 8-11pm. I also had a class that met Tuesday and Thursday from 8-10am. Not a big deal while living on campus, but it wouldn't have been doable if I had an hour long commute each way.

    Agreed. My daughter's college does a LOT in the evenings. Her exams usually end about 10pm. It's not uncommon for club meetings to be held at night, etc.

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  • PrdMomto1PrdMomto1 562 replies7 threads Member
    This article is a couple years old but they say on average public schools are about $10,800 a year and private are about $12,210. But they also mention there are ranges from less than $5000 to over $16000. I assume in many cases the prices have increased a little since then.

    https://thescholarshipsystem.com/blog-for-students-families/what-is-room-and-board-what-will-it-cost-you/

    Some schools will have different options for housing with different associated costs (usually depending on how many people are sharing a room) and sometimes options for different meal plans depending on how many meals you buy a week.

    My D goes to a private school and their room and board is $14,500 a year. All students get the same meal plan of 3 meals a day (except Sundays when they get 2). Plus they get extra $ in their account to spend at other campus take-out food places. The food is really good. Like each cafeteria has a chef (some have pastry chefs) and they make real food, not just kid food. The set up encourages kids to eat with their friends - classes usually aren't held over meal times - and it's a significant part of the campus culture. BUT, obviously, this is on the high end of the price spectrum.

    All schools publish their fees. If there are specific schools you are thinking about, google that schools room and board costs. And then as others have said, compare those to the costs of commuting, food at home. take out food, etc.

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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7377 replies34 threads Senior Member
    I would not want my kids living at home while going to college. I did it for my first 3 years. I survived but would of rather been away. Also it comes down to cost. If you can't afford it then the choice is made. Maybe explaining your situation better might be helpful?
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  • CamasiteCamasite 199 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Also remember that a 1 hour drive may produce much more than a 1 hour commute if student parking is exiled to the far edges of campus as it is in many big universities. You still have to factor in the long walks from the distant student parking lots to wherever the class is.

    I wouldn't want that sort of experience for a freshman. It's one thing to live near campus where you can bike or walk to school. Another to live that far away.
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  • HPuck35HPuck35 2140 replies17 threads Senior Member
    I recommend that a freshman NOT have a car when living on campus. You can save some money there. Food will be somewhat higher on a meal plan than living at home. But there are typically options that can reduce that cost. The big expense is the room.

    I believe that you can miss out on a lot by not living on campus. For many students a study group is important to getting good grades. So your time on campus is more than just classroom time. Friendships mean a lot and you can make lifelong friends while in the dorms.

    Both of my kids were in the dorm freshman year. They both moved to apartments the next year. They both learned how to cook and so their food budget wasn't much different than it would have been at home.

    My daughter went to college in a small City and never had a car the entire time she was in college. She also shared an apartment. Her share of the rent was only 350 a month. My son was in a more expensive area and his share of the rent was more than double that; and he needed a car and an on campus parking permit, not cheap.

    I considered these costs well worth it.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83438 replies741 threads Senior Member
    edited May 25
    What is a good or fair price for it? If any of your kid(s) were to attend a school that's no more than an hour away, at what price would you decide that you'd rather have them commute? How would you decide if the dorms are worth it to pay any price for room&board?

    Wouldn't that depend on:

    * The length and difficulty of the commute, including method used (driving is basically wasted time compared to using public transportation, but COVID-19 has made public transportation less desirable to many).
    * The total net price living at campus.
    * The total net price commuting (note that the student consumes food and utilities at home and has commuting costs, so it isn't $0, although typically lower than living at campus).
    * Your total college budget.

    ?

    Example 1:

    * Commute is a 15 minute walk to campus.
    * Net price living on campus is $35k ($15k room and board + $20k other).
    * Net price commuting is $23k ($3k food and utilities at home + $20k other).
    * Your total college budget is $25k (anything beyond would require student loans and work).

    Example 2:

    * Commute is a 1 hour drive to campus (including parking, etc. as applicable), with unpredictable traffic conditions.
    * Net price living on campus is $35k ($15k room and board + $20k other).
    * Net price commuting is $28k ($3k food and utilities at home + $5k commuting costs + $20k other).
    * Your total college budget is $50k.

    Many people's answers for the question "live on campus or commute?" will differ between these examples.
    edited May 25
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  • Yankeefan20Yankeefan20 198 replies6 threads Junior Member
    bgbg4us wrote: »
    R&B is pricey for sure. It's more than tuition at every state school in our state. Of kids we know, about half live on campus, and half live at home while attending the public U in our city.

    Things to consider: check into the rules with your school. Lots have rules about first time freshmen; eg: if you live 30 Minutes or farther away = mandatory on campus; or 19 or older = choice of apartment or on campus. Some meal plans may be cheaper to help with costs . And AOTC tax credits can't be used for dorm life.

    We've found that after the first year on campus, it is a bit cheaper to live in an apartment or rent a house - so remember that as you budget down the road.

    For our kids, we've paid for the dorm at a school 1 hr away. There's something fun about being in a dorm, and both of us have fond memories of it from 30 years ago when we were in college. But with everything going on right now, there's no right or wrong. good luck!



    "It's more than tuition"

    This is why I'm asking if you think more should be spent for R&B than tuition.
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  • Yankeefan20Yankeefan20 198 replies6 threads Junior Member
    thumper1 wrote: »
    Crunch the numbers. Commuting an hour each way isn’t free. Will require the use of public transportation or a car (with all the associated car expenses...but add a college parking permit to that). It will be less costly than $10,000 or more per year in room and board unless you need to buy that car.

    In addition, add two hours of time commuting to the student schedule.

    And lastly, if your student has already been accepted, check the cost of attendance for commuters vs resident students. If your kid is getting need based aid, that might be reduced if he or she commutes.
    thumper1 wrote: »
    Crunch the numbers. Commuting an hour each way isn’t free. Will require the use of public transportation or a car (with all the associated car expenses...but add a college parking permit to that). It will be less costly than $10,000 or more per year in room and board unless you need to buy that car.

    In addition, add two hours of time commuting to the student schedule.

    And lastly, if your student has already been accepted, check the cost of attendance for commuters vs resident students. If your kid is getting need based aid, that might be reduced if he or she commutes.


    Need-based aid would cover most of tuition. Any loans taken out would be to pay for R&B.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30759 replies197 threads Senior Member
    You need to run your own numbers for the costs of R&B and other expenses left after the need-based aid. Can you cover the costs? Would you need to take a loan to cover all/part of them? Who would borrow that money? Parents only? Parents and student?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10193 replies119 threads Senior Member
    I wouldn’t take out a loan just to live on campus.
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  • EmptyNestSoon2EmptyNestSoon2 115 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Of course you know this depends on many things. But some things I would think about. If R&B at your child’s school is, say, $13,000. And the costs of commuting (parking, car payment, insurance, gas, etc) would be $3k, and the costs of food if not on meal plan would be another $3k, then the extra cost of living on campus is $7,000 per year.

    You are saying tuition will be free, but the student would need loans for these living costs. The total “extra” cost will be $28,000 for 4 years (although as posters above pointed out, they may decrease after freshman year if they can secure a cheap apartment and cook for themselves), so maybe the “extra” cost will really be more like $20,000 over 4 years.

    Is your child planning to work during the summers and school years? I myself lived on campus, but picked up waitressing and babysitting gigs, and did some on-campus work during the school year, plus saved a ton of money during the summers. So if your child works, they may not have to be saddled with all of that extra $20,000 as debt—maybe they can whittle that down to $10,000 at the end of 4 years.

    If they plan to go into a lucrative field after graduation with high probability of securing a job (and the pandemic economy should be over 4 years from now, and who knows but could be decent by then), the $10,000 in debt would probably feel minor and well worth it. Lots of computer science kids/engineers, etc coming out of strong schools earn over $70,000+ in their first year. But if they are coming out of a weaker school with poor job placement history in a field that is notoriously difficult to earn a living wage, then that extra $10k in debt will be a bigger burden.

    In my mind, living on campus is a very valuable part of the educational experience, but it certainly makes sense to take into account these costs (and also your child’s personality—there may some kids who would value it less). Good luck deciding; none of this is easy!
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    ^ That's another good point: Commuting from far away makes working on campus tougher if not impossible (or certainly more stressful). Lots to consider, and commuting may not be the best option when you take out all of the costs.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13628 replies32 threads Senior Member
    bgbg4us wrote: »
    R&B is pricey for sure. It's more than tuition at every state school in our state. Of kids we know, about half live on campus, and half live at home while attending the public U in our city.

    Things to consider: check into the rules with your school. Lots have rules about first time freshmen; eg: if you live 30 Minutes or farther away = mandatory on campus; or 19 or older = choice of apartment or on campus. Some meal plans may be cheaper to help with costs . And AOTC tax credits can't be used for dorm life.

    We've found that after the first year on campus, it is a bit cheaper to live in an apartment or rent a house - so remember that as you budget down the road.

    For our kids, we've paid for the dorm at a school 1 hr away. There's something fun about being in a dorm, and both of us have fond memories of it from 30 years ago when we were in college. But with everything going on right now, there's no right or wrong. good luck!



    "It's more than tuition"

    This is why I'm asking if you think more should be spent for R&B than tuition.


    It kind of doesn't matter, though.

    Tuition is tuition and will be what it is.

    But there are costs and benefits to both staying on campus and commuting and that's what you have to consider.

    As an extreme example, uni in Germany is tuition-free. Uni in Belgium is ridiculously cheap (a few hundred Euros a year). So in both cases, students will always be spending more on either room and board or commuting/food costs at home than on tuition.

    No German wonders if R&B is "worth it" compared to tuition (because tuition is zero). Rather, they compare R&B with the costs and convenience of other living and eating arrangements and choose accordingly. You're essentially in the same situation with tuition being covered by fin aid. And some Europeans do take out loans so they can live away or closer to uni.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83438 replies741 threads Senior Member
    Need-based aid would cover most of tuition. Any loans taken out would be to pay for R&B.

    You need to run the actual numbers.

    * Total cost for living on campus?
    * Total cost for commuting (including live-at-home costs and commuting costs)?
    * How much can you actually pay (with the remainder having to come from student loan and/or work earnings)?
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1971 replies25 threads Senior Member
    I think that the norm for the rest of the school also impacts the value of staying on campus. If the population was heavy commuters with a few on campus, I would be willing to pay less than if most of the students lived on campus.
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