Price for Dorms

I have read posts about school-owned housing costing a lot more than other housing but why?

I think the main reason why is that college residences offer not only more facilities than other housing but also a great experience. I’m not 100% sure but I think it’s the reason why you’ll probably end up paying more if you go to school-owned housing.

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It really depends on the school. It is the case in most situations that they can live off campus for lower. Some schools it can be the same price to live off campus or higher depending on amenities.
D18’s school was 18K for room and board for 10 months. Her apartment directly across the street from her old dorm, with a private bedroom is about 9K for a full year. There is no way she eats 9K a year.
Looking for S21 it seems some schools off campus have similar costs due to amenities like pools and gyms in apartment complexes.
Be mindful some schools require first year students to live on campus. Was surprised to see a school reiterate this this week.

This varies a lot by college and region.- for some of our collegekids college-owned housing was much more affordable than locally-owned housing options, and vice-versa. Reasons vary, but drawing just on the colleges we have dealt with:

*two colleges have very limited centre-campus housing that students covet (in real life, the buildings are ancient, require a lot of maintenance, and have tiny rooms, but the prestige and convenience factors make it a top choice). The fee for that housing is higher than the farther out college housing (which is priced comparably to similarly distant local housing).

*one college had a lot of facilities in the dorm complex that are maintained by the college for student use (lounges, game rooms, music practice rooms (including piano rooms), group study rooms, kitted out kitchen facilities, etc). They also provided rooms for resident peer counselor. Those dorms were more expensive than local housing options.

*on the other hand, one college was in a town with whackingly high property costs: college housing was the only remotely affordable option unless you were prepared for a very long commute.

*two (one public / one private university) are really well integrated into their towns, and over the decades local property owners have built and expanded housing to accommodate students and faculty. As a result there is a wide range of housing options - both more and less expensive than college housing- that are comparably convenient for students.

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What are some schools that have good housing? How is the experience better?

@Yankeefan20 remember, on campus house has some advantages too.

  1. On campus housing is furnished. You won’t need to buy furniture.

  2. On campus housing is for the academic year only. So you won’t need to either sublet or pay rent in the summers when your kid isn’t there.

  3. On campus housing has one bill that includes all utilities including heat, air conditioning and usually internet costs…plus other utilities like electricity.

My kids went to college where real estate was expensive…Boston and the east Bay Area. Costs for off campus housing were as expensive as on campus. Both colleges (BU and SCU had really nice on campus apartment style suites for upper class students.

YMMV depending on the location of the college. One kid had to sublet for two summers and that was a headache. The second kid actually stayed on campus to work, so that worked out. In both cases, they needed to buy (used) furniture for the off campus places…and get rid of it when they graduated.


Good point. How much does on campus housing cost vs off-campus that could require paying for a full year?

One advantage with the room-and-meal option on campus is that food is readily available; grocery shopping and cooking can be very time consuming and inconvenient, especially for the students who lack prior experiences in such endeavors.

My kids lived in both. The off-campus housing was less expensive, but required renting through the summer. As others have said, furniture was needed. Also have to be careful as some landlords take advantage of the kids and some of the houses are very run down and may be some distance from campus. Also may have to set up billing for utilities, TV and internet. If roommates move out, have to find another one. For my youngest, we had to keep a minimal food plan because he was too far from campus to get home for lunch or even dinner.

One summer my son sublet in a newer building with expensive rent. His share of the rent would have been equal to or more expensive than campus housing.

It was a good experience for the students to have to run a household while still in college.

Currently my daughter is paying $10,000 a year to live in a very nice townhouse with 5 other girls (6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, parking, washer/dryer, walking distance to campus, 1 year lease). She was paying $14,000 to live in a nice honors dorm but in a forced triple, communal bathrooms, last year, over $6000 of that was a mandatory meal plan that she barely used. My older kids lived in cheaper but not nearly as nice off campus apartments so paid less. They were also in not so nice dorms freshman and sophomore years but room and board was also around $14,000 with the mandatory meal plan. It’s the meal plan that jacks it up.

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Also for off campus places…some will require a guarantor (that would be you parents) to guarantee there is sufficient income to pay rent. We had to provide income info, and also sign the lease.

Also, do not forget about security deposits (my kids had to have first and last months rent up front), and the cost for renters insurance (check your homeowners which might cover this cost).

When including the summer, did the off-campus housing cost more? Were they forced to stay for the summer even if they were not taking summer courses?

Broadly, the advantages of on-campus housing, especially for 1st years, is that they everything is there – furniture, utilities, internet, friends, food, dorm advisors etc. All that eases the transition for the 17-18 year old who has lived at home.

My kids had different housing experiences because of the type of school they attended. The one at major public flagship lived in a high rise, 1st year dorm, then moved off campus for his remaining years in college because that’s what everyone did. There was some savings in moving off campus, though the hassle of furniture, year long leases etc. was real. And, as he got older, he was less willing to live in a pit of an apartment so the costs crept back up. There was no culture of most students living on campus all four years, so his experience wasn’t any different than his peers. My other kid went to a 4 year residential school where dorm life taught all kinds of lessons in diversity, respect, and flexibility. While rooms were generally fine, upper class students could get nicer rooms, and seniors can all live in on-campus apartments, to begin the transition to post-college life. Housing costs were tied to the type of room – a basic double cost less than a 4 person apartment (with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths). Two different approaches, each connected to the type of educational institution and experience.


They don’t have to stay, but still have to pay for rent and utilities.

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In our area it depends; on campus dorms/apartments can run $5.5-11k/school year, depending on the dorm. Housing is only guaranteed for freshman year. The nicer the dorm, the higher the cost. Off campus apartments run $400-1,100/month/bedroom for 12 months including furniture and utilities. The more amenities, the higher the cost. Walking distance to campus is higher as well, although not necessarily nicer. We have a lot of luxury student apartments in town; they have pools, fire pits, beach volley ball courts, massive gyms, well equipped lounges, planned social activities and private shuttles; they run $800-1,100/month/bedroom (usually 3-5 bedrooms with private baths). You can get a nice clean apartment, 2 miles from campus with fewer amenities for $425/month/bedroom; that includes a private bath, utilities, smaller pool, small gym, furniture and is on the bus route.

Depends what you mean by ‘good’! For first years, it usually includes being reasonably centrally located (esp for food & classes, but if there is a relevant sport facility that can make a difference also), with other first years. Warm but not hot. Fire alarms that don’t get set off often. etc. First year on campus housing is typically the worst at any college- seniority has it’s privileges!

Some places (OSU comes to mind) offer lots of fun options (do you want a private bath in your suite or a huge plasma tv?), but imo housing is not a key decision metric when choosing a college.

Definitely very regional!

And at my D’s school, there is a lot of variability even for dorm pricing depending on which dorm, type of dorm room, meal plan, etc… I believe the prices range from $3200-$9500 for the entire school year for housing (quad with no a/c up to single w/AC with private bath).

Off campus housing can vary just as widely based on things like if it’s furnished and proximity to campus. Proximity being the most critical cost factor.

My D is subletting an apartment when she returns from co-op. She’s in a fully furnished 4 bed/4.5 bath apartment but it’s a drive to campus. She’s paying $500/month. She and the girl who she’s subletting from agreed to split the summer rent because it is a 12 month lease. She would easily pay twice that if she was within walking distance of campus.

No one is ever forced to stay in an off campus apartment, but if you sign a 12 month lease, you need to pay the rent and utilities whether you are there or not.

And some leases specifically prohibit subletting.

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You say housing should not be a factor. Why select a school with lousy housing though?

Ohio State? Is the TV a joke?

It will vary by location. My son’s school has beautiful new on campus apartments that are about $12k for 10 months. He moved off campus to an older complex, right across the street from freshman dorms. We pay $4500; complex offers 10 months leases, then we paid $350 for June - August to keep his stuff in his apartment and he moved back in in September. The lease will run out in May, when he graduates. Not nearly as fancy as the on campus apartment which has 2 fridges, granite countertops, 45" flat screen in the living room, etc… But he didn’t really care and we saved a fortune.