The high cost of a college education is a major talking point throughout this country. People across the political spectrum have varying views on how to ensure more people get to study without incurring unending financial struggles. For students who need to make decisions now, however, future political movements mean little.
Regardless of how one is paying for college, it is helpful to find ways to reduce the cost. One popular means of minimizing college fees is by staying off campus. But does this really help in the long run?
Let’s look at how staying off campus can reduce your costs to help determine if it is worth it.
Staying off campus can significantly reduce your college fees. This is because residence halls are an expensive component. There are reasons for this, even if it seems like you’re only getting a small room for your money. Campus life provides far more value than the space in which you sleep.
Included in your costs are things like meals, laundry, entertainment, utilities, and more. These are all things you have to pay for when you’re renting off campus.
There are also unexpected expenses when living off campus like renters insurance. Renters insurance is not required by law in Oregon, but if you rent a place, you might want to get a policy. It is extremely important as it covers your possessions and personal liability.
All in all, the fees you pay cover quite a bit more than just a room with a bed. This is why they’re so expensive. Taking this into consideration, do you actually save money by renting off campus?
Facilitation vs. Doing It Yourself
The math is not simple. Comparing the amount you will spend on rent, groceries, etc. is difficult since it varies from person to person. There are too many variable factors to make a one-size-fits-all assessment. This is especially true considering that inflation is currently making everything more expensive.
However, it is likely that living off campus will be cheaper for you. The fees you pay to the college do not just cover the expenses. They also cover facilitation. Your admin is taken care of, shopping and cooking of meals is done for you, and events are planned by staff.
All of this costs money, which is part of what you pay for. You can do these things yourself, saving money in the process, but you will spend a lot of time getting them done. This throws another spanner in the works, as your time is also worth money.
How Much is Your Time Worth?
When you work for a company or contractor, you rarely get paid for output. Rather, you get paid for your time. This is why time is money. When you start to think of your time as having literal financial value, you realize that doing things yourself to save money can be counterproductive.
For example, if you are considering getting a part-time job while studying, you will have fewer hours available to work if you’re taking care of your own needs. You may be saving money in one sense, but you are also losing the opportunity to make money.
If you want cold, hard numbers, you can consider minimum wage as the basic value of an hour of your time. How many hours will you spend shopping, cooking, and cleaning, among other things? Multiply that by minimum wage and see if you are still saving money by doing it yourself.
This is not a straightforward consideration. If you can’t afford to pay for the convenience, the value of your time is irrelevant. If you don’t plan on working part time, the argument is somewhat academic.
Are You Saving Money?
There’s no simple answer to whether you save money by staying off campus. It depends on a range of factors, including how much your rent and other expenses come to. It also depends on how you plan on using the time made available to you by the amenities provided by the college.
In the end, your decision may come down to what you can practically afford. In that case, you will likely spend less by living off campus.