I know that @ucbalumnus likes to frequently say the above, but I don’t think parents are “pretending” anything. They know that their child eats at home (maybe not much while commuting to college) and takes showers, has laundry, etc, but it’s hardly a similar cost to room and board.
Yesterday a parent showed a meal made from home (chicken, rice, broccoli) and the cost was about 95 cents. Milk and cereal are also a low cost at home meal. A campus meal plan meal can easily be $8-9.
When cooking for a family, cooking for one more is hardy noticeable. May just mean fewer leftovers that would later get thrown out on trash day. Lol
And throwing a few more clothes in the family laundry doesn’t make much/any difference. When I lived at home, my mom didn’t allow us to do our own laundry because she didn’t want a bunch of little loads hogging up the washer. Lol. If we needed to do some “whites” we had to do all the whites in the whites dirty laundry basket. Ha ha
There’s a reason that many/most American students commute to college. It does usually save about $10k per year.
@mom2collegekids The big expense for commuting students is car expenses. For many low income families in areas not well served by public transportation, commuting would mean buying another decent used car and paying for the additional auto insurance (not cheap for college students), maintenance, gas, and any needed repairs. For at least the first year, this cost could easily rival the cost of room and board and would be similarly unaffordable for low income families.
My kid was away for seven weeks this summer, and the difference was astounding. Twice as many loads of laundry (and fuller loads!) for three people vs two. Twice as much water (both bottled and metered). Easily three times the toilet paper. Auto usage probably increased linearly, so only 50% higher, but it was all on my car so it felt like it doubled. One ravenous carnivore teenager costs more to feed than two middle-aged moms.
What we saved isn’t nearly what we paid for room and board. But it wasn’t anywhere close to zero, either.
I will miss DS, but I will not miss a 6’2" 220 pound eating machine decimating my pantry on a daily basis. I think he’ll make good use of those all you can eat meal plans! I will be able to drop insurance on his car and maybe even sell it. Definitely won’t be putting a tank of gas in it every month like I do now so he can get to all his HS school activities.
My cousin’s son lives part time with his mother and step father —step dad doesn’t care about the expense of that extra person in his house. He happily absorbs the cost of extra utilities and the extra bedroom might as well be used. They’ve slowly boiled that frog over the years. Ain’t gonna happen to get him to fork over the $X he’ll save for kid to live at college. That’s cold hard cash. Yeah, he might loosen up and in a good mood throw some dollars his way— Got him a junker car that still runs recently, paid first installment in insurance and to get it registered and in running shape for the moment but made it clear continuing costs on the kid. Like it’s going to be dependable for an hour and half round trip commute regularly in two years? Like kid doesn’t have other places to put money from part time job, like college test prep, set up a savings account with mom or dad for expenses, etc ? Yes, I’ve seen this act too many times before and it usually does not end well. But getting pure college money out of some people, some parents, not going to happen.
Many poor, and even impoverished households somehow can make room for another person. Can find another bed, or just comforters on the floor, for that matter, and most of us can cut down on food portions for another mouth. Not like the utilities if separately paid will necessarily sky rocket. You can make do. Plus that is the normal. It’s not like you see that money rain down when you drop a kid off at the dorms, but colleges want that payment right up from for the term. Heck, they want a deposit months in advance. For many kids and parent that have posted here, coming up even with that deposit is a hardship.
I worked in area where there is shuttle bus that makes two trips from the Walmart parking lot to two community colleges that are each about 45 minutes away if kid can get a drop off to that centrally located Walmart which is near the high school from which he likely just graduated, he can get to and from either of those schools and stay there part or most of the day. That same bus stop serves many who work at several major employers , one a large chicken packing company, and have no car, can’t get a reliable car pool.
No, commuting is not the ideal solution a lot of times ( though sometimes it is). But it’s all that is available sometimes. You can get some state and federal money in loans and grants maybe to cover some of the commute and the tuition. Get a part time job for some pocket money and to cover a bit more. Yeah, it’s a scramble if the family isn’t pitching in actively but without some upfront chunk of necessary change whether from financial aid or parents or savings or something, anything, it’s the ONLY option In the area where I worked , those kids had a lot of company. Scrounging for rides is just a part of life there. Most people have unreliable cars and they hit up family and friends regularly when they can’t drive. They also give out rides when they have an operational vehicle
Yes, for most, it is cheaper to live at home and commute. But it does not cost $0.
So if room and board costs $15,000, but living at home and commuting costs $5,000, the difference is $10,000, not $15,000 that is the usual assumption.
But also, many of the costs of the student living at home are scattered around various parts of the household budget, i.e. “hidden” in terms of associating those costs with the student living at home (and the savings of such when the student is not at home is also “hidden”). Whereas writing a check for the room and board is a more obvious cost associated with the student.
I have a few nieces and nephews who currently commute to their local CSU or UC. the cost isn’t $5k. yes, they have a car, but they’d have that either way. many kids who “go away” to college end up living off campus and often bring their cars with them.
It’s not zero, just like when kids go away to college, magically they no longer cost their families anything at home.
the thing about having kids commute is that family costs are more controlled. if there’s a tight month, the family can purchase less expensive foods.
Taking cars to college is a choice though, and if they’re living off campus and buying their own food they’re probably saving enough over the cost of room and board to cover the car anyhow. I don’t see a reason for my DS20 to take a car with him to any of the schools we’re looking at. They all (except the one furthest away unfortunately) have amazing public transportation options. Two schools are 4 hours away and bus fare is $32 to get home. He’d pay that in gas to drive himself, so what’s the point? Might as well save the $500/year for a parking spot and the $800 or so for insurance and go without a car.
I’m pretty certain over half of our family food budget is going to my DS20, which equals about $2400 for 8 months.
Cousins all commuted to college. Very tight budget. Not PELL eligible so it was all loans and part time work. No savings in the picture. Parents just continued paying living at home cost for the kids. Kids drove when their junkers were drivable, caught rides with friends, family and classmates. I think. Catch as catch can. That an extra car was in the works some of the time helped things because it was not like even the parents or anyone in that circle had cars within 3 years old. The bus option still required a car to the bus stop as it was over a mile, maybe even two away and took a very long time to get there. An hour and half—and it’s a good 40-45 minutes drive by car.
Here in NY it’s $5.50 each round trip. Where I worked earlier this year $6. My one cousin pays over $120 to get to and from work and he doesn’t make that much money. Considering it takes him 13 hours to get door to door, prep at work and after walk to and from bus stops, each day, work, eat, take required breaks, he is not getting federal minimum wage. But he’s msking money. A student is paying for the privilege of that commute.
Cshell- beware the fallacy of “it’s cheaper to live off campus”. In some places it is, in others it is not, and in many- it’s a wash.
why? Leases typically run a calendar year, not the academic year. So your kid has to pay for June, July and August rent even if the apartment is empty because he/she got a great summer job somewhere else (if they can’t find a subletter, of course). Landlords demand a hefty security deposit from college kids- and in my experience, you can kiss most of that good bye. Wear and tear, even if they are very careful, and even if they never host a party or break a door lock. And speaking of locks- you lose your key at a dorm, it’s what- $10 to replace it? It can be $150 for a service call for a locksmith. Paying for internet, utilities… it adds up very quickly.
If you have a kid who likes to cook and has access to a real supermarket- yes, it’s cheaper to cook than to eat in a cafeteria. But if your kid is counting on fast food, Starbucks for breakfast every day, even diner meals for dinner is going to ratchet up that food bill pretty quickly. And if the kid is not near a supermarket- they need a free afternoon to uber to a real grocery store, or take the campus van, or rent a zipcar once in a while.
I bought into the “it’s so much cheaper” line many times before I realized- nope. In a small town where apartments are cheap and landlords are happy to get the rent? Yup, you can save money. In a city with a tight housing market and landlords can demand all sorts of cash up front even for a dive of an apartment in a sketchy neighborhood? Those dorms with the free internet and security guards who patrol 24/7 and the blue emergency lights and someone to replace a broken window in the entryway or lounge sure starts to look like a bargain!!!
Ha, ha, et tu, @blossom? Yeah, with my spoiled kids that’s what happened too. But at some schools, it truly is possible to really knock off a good portion of R&B expenses. I did as did DH in our day. I saw kids do it at Pitt and at UB. Two of my kids sublet their units over the summer and got a good chunk, not 100% of that cost covered, and some of mine just stayed there during the summer so, really that in this family, that we didn’t make out in the positive I’d because my kids eat out and spend out too much, much more when they live off campus.
My kids weren’t spoiled, and they lived in some cruddy places in questionable neighborhoods. But the extra costs add up really quickly. And it took me a few go rounds to realize- you are NEVER getting that security deposit back. Even with Blossom taking photos during move in to document what was in rough shape at the beginning-- nope. Landlords factor that extra money into their budgets-- THEIR budget, not yours! The city garbage service dents the cans so they can’t close- landlord says “You can pay $50 now for new cans, or I can take it out of your security deposit”. The washing machine in the basement has been broken for three weeks- landlord keeps saying “new machine is coming”. Meanwhile, your kid is dragging dirty laundry to the local wash and fold (costs 5 times as much an ordinary coin laundry, but that one would require a bus ride). This stuff is sort of funny when it happens (welcome to being a grownup) but the costs add up pretty quickly.
Well , mine flat out spent too much. They lived in some gruesome cheap digs but we never saw any savings and in fact, they’d run tight on money. We gave them the room and board on a monthly basis, so any savings would have been apparent. Two actually got security deposits back, one partial.
Also, other than with one of them, one time, we didn’t put down much in the way of money in the way of household stuff and furniture. Other housemates and parents did, plus what they acquired on the economy. But they definitely spent more while in outside housing.
Are your cousins in NYC?
I know living in NYC(which is a whole different animal compared to living other places) I commuted to undergrad at CUNY and to grad school (was an adult with a full time job and a child). If your cousin is paying the $5.50 a day vs purchasing a weekly/monthly unlimited, then se maybe throwing away money. $120 per moth for an unlimited metro card is not onerous with the NYC minimum wage now at $15/hr . It is unfortunate that your cousin has chosen to work at a job that is not paying minimum wage (fast food is now $15/hr Starbucks, shake shack pay a little more).
I have students who now attend college full time and work full time because they have no other options.
Everyone has a commute and chooses where they want that commute to be.
I commute from about 2.5 hours a day, which is nothing compared to people coming from westchester, parts of Jersey or LI t get to the city and are paying $300-400/month in commuter costs. However, people feel that the trade-off is worth it.
While we know the cost to live at home may not be 0, the cost of living at home also does not suddenly increase overnight because the child who had been previously living in your home for the past 17-18 years is now made the transition from high school to college and your expenses are now increasing by 10K (which is usually not going to happen unless you are buying a car or a big ticket item). For students who may not have the best transportation system, many of them are probably already driving
Hoopties or ridesharing with friends because they don’t want to be tied to the school bus
Cousins don’t live in NY. Though suburbs in NY and commuting to NYC can be very expensive even with monthly passes. My son buys a metro north pass $240 and a MTA pass. Plus needs to. pay for parking at the train station. I know kids who commute to NYC school in Manhattan that have to do the same. Available mass transit does not mean inexpensive or even affordable.
Sometimes you feel Ike you cant win: my D is 15 minutes from, her job (moving to a new position that will have her about 7 minutes from home). Her trade-off is the crazy rent she pays to have this short commute