Campus Housing vs. Commuting?

According to a study done by Complete College America, 75 percent of college students are commuters, with 25 percent completing their college education in the more traditional sense, of living and working on campus through their college years.  As the University of Cincinnati’s enrollment nears 42,000 in the 2012-2013 academic year, the number of commuter students has never been greater.  But, why is this?  

                  Now, I understand for numerous students, the college of their choice, or the college with the best education their field offers, is hundreds of miles from their home.  For many, college is also a time to experience independence in a safe environment, or to be near to campus to enjoy the benefits of new friendships and student-life involvement.  Still, others just want an excuse to be rid of their parents.  All are valid points.

                  I do not live on campus, and commute from a half-hour away to class every day.  The reason behind it is really, purely, financial.  So, I’d argue that those who already live near the Cincinnati area should unpack their car and step away from the Bed, Bath and Beyond, college, back-to-school section, because it’s time to crunch the numbers (All statistical data is based off of UC rates on and around the downtown Cincinnati campus area).

                  In this economic climate, coming off of a recession, it is hard to fathom paying the $6,000-8,500 a year for dorm space.  This is not including, the $1,000 to 3,000 meal plan for dining on campus.

                  Now, you may be thinking, well after your freshman year off campus housing drops off significantly with a cost of approximately $450-1,000 depending on how many bedrooms you acquire and how many friends you share it with.  But, from talking to friends and doing a bit of research on my own, I’ve realized it’s not that simple. 

                  Depending on where you live and whom you rent through, many do not include Internet and TV service, and some do not even include such utilities as water, and also heat, in the rent.  Internet is a necessity, with most all of our schoolwork being online.  This is what leads many students, to try and get away scrimping in other areas, such as heat, with blankets and space heaters.  As we have seen from the tragic house fire on Digby Ave., which killed two UC students, Chad Kohls and Ellen Garner, this past New Year’s Day, space heaters are tricky and can be very dangerous.                   

                  Also, many apartments/houses for rent require you to purchase all new appliances and supplies.  So, whatever you utilize when you are home, at your parent’s house, ie refrigerator, microwave, mattresses, television…etc., it is now your responsibility to obtain a whole new set of these (and don’t forget the task of moving these things in and out every semester).

                  So, at this point we’ve paid for housing, and in many cases extra for utilities.  Then there’s the matter of where you will do your laundry and how will you eat.  Does the apartment complex you pay into contain a laundry room? In some cases, not.  Concerning dining, many students prefer to opt out of dining hall meal plans, in order to have the convenience of walking to a refrigerator and pantry of groceries.

                  But, doing off-site laundry, having groceries, and eating out require a very similar means, a car.  Many friends I know who live on campus try to get away without it.  But, that proves extremely inconvenient as I am always witnessing them bum rides to the Corryville Kroger or begging someone to run errands with them.  But, let’s say you do have a car.  Some apartments/houses may have a free street to park on, but for the majority of students you can find yourself paying upwards of $100-almost $500 for parking in a garage on campus.  You haven’t even paid the rolls of coins, detergent money, grocery bills, and restaurant tabs yet. 

                  And behind all of this let’s not forget the underlying consistency of living in Clifton, on a campus that gets more Greg Hand rape and mugging emails before 8 a.m. than students going to class that early.  But, I digress. 

                  In this current economy, many students are choosing local colleges to receive their education.  Considering how close commuters live, paying for gas, occasional car maintenance, and sometimes/sometimes not paying for parking, is a manageable feat with aid from parents.  In my opinion, if you live this close, the benefits of living with your parents far outweigh the costs.  So, yes, you may not feel the unbridled freedom of a traditional college student by living near campus. But hey, every night…mom always makes dinner.