COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

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The expenses of the student commuter vs. living on campus
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/costs-of-commuting-versus-living-on-campus-1056

Posted: 2017-05-11

by Mark Simmonds

A university education doesn’t come cheap, and a large portion of that cost is associated with student living. Both students who commute and those who live on campus have expenses unique to their living situations. Here, we outline some of the most common costs for both setups.

5 costs of the student commuter

It might seem like the expenses that come with commuting to campus pale in comparison to the hefty room-and-board costs associated with on-campus student housing. But you may be surprised to find out just how expensive it can be for students living in a place of their own (or even with a roommate).

1. Gas prices are… pricey.

Even if gas prices are the lowest they've been in months, they're still high. If you commute to campus on a regular basis, fuel costs are likely to be your largest expense aside from tuition and class fees. High gas prices can be especially hard-hitting if you have to drive across town or sit in stop-and-go traffic (or both) just to get to class.

2. Car maintenance and repairs aren't cheap.

Making frequent commutes to and from campus puts a lot of wear and tear on your ride. If you're racking up a lot of miles, you're going to need more frequent oil changes, new tires and tire rotations, fluid top-offs, and other routine maintenance. And since your car's exposed to the elements (both Mother Nature and other cars) during your commute, you may be more likely to get into a crash or suffer other costly damage to your vehicle.

3. Auto insurance premiums are often steeper for commuters.

It's no surprise that students who drive their cars more often and/or for greater distances will typically pay more for car insurance. Your average annual mileage and the main purpose for which you use your car (commuting, for pleasure, business use, etc.) can contribute to your premium considerably. Plus, more driving means more risk when it comes to accidents, theft, and glass damage claims, to name just a few. And with higher exposure to risk, you'll usually see higher insurance premiums.

4. Living in an off-campus apartment can be expensive, too.

College dorms have notoriously high rent, sure, but that definitely doesn't mean that off-campus living is inexpensive—even if you're rooming with a friend or two. Apartment prices in college towns are significantly inflated compared to suburban rentals of similar size and quality. And even though your parents' homeowners insurance might cover you for certain instances while you're away at school, you may want to consider financially protecting your belongings with your own rental insurance policy, just in case.

Plus, living in your own place means you're responsible for scheduling maintenance, paying utilities, doing your own laundry, and setting up cable service, among other duties and responsibilities. On the other hand, taking care of these tasks on your own helps significantly reduce your cost of living when compared to those of a dorm.

5. Time is money.

As a student, any extra time you do have is very valuable—whether that means hitting the books before an exam, exercising to release stress, socializing with friends or family, or just, you know, relaxing. So spending your time commuting to and from campus can not only be exhausting and expensive, but it can also mean having less time to do the activities you enjoy.

RELATED: Do you need college tuition insurance?

4 On-campus housing expenses

Commuting to campus can be a costly endeavor, but dormitory living is no exception — it just has different types of expenses.

1. Room and board costs are no joke.

The cost of your college room and board depends on the student housing and meal plan you choose, but no matter how you look at it, it's pricey. For the 2016-2017 school year, the College Board reported that the average room-and-board cost was $10,440 at four-year public schools, while it was $11,890 at private colleges. And it's important to note that this cost is completely separate from the hefty price tags of tuition, textbooks, transportation, entertainment, clothing and other living expenditures.

2. Business prices are often inflated near universities.

College towns are often the cultural hotspots of a given area, and businesses know that people will pay higher prices to be amidst all the action and excitement. You can expect college towns and their surrounding areas to have higher rent costs, pricier dining and bar tabs, more expensive groceries, higher laundromat fees and even inflated gas prices. For a frugal college student, these expenses can (and do) add up very quickly.

3. College costs are higher for some students.

Did you know that a growing number of universities in the U.S. are requiring their full-time freshman students to live in school dormitories for their first school year? School officials argue that the requirement is beneficial to students because it allows them to network, focus more on academics and become immersed in college culture.

Despite all the great things that on-campus life has to offer, there's no denying the fact that freshman dorm requirements tack on a huge expense to an already-large bill of textbooks, laptops, class fees and meal plans—the latter of which can easily cost thousands of dollars per semester.

4. Personal privacy can be an issue.

Sharing communal bathrooms (including showers) with an entire floor of dormitory students can get old really fast. Having your own, quiet space is priceless, especially when you're studying to achieve your best exam scores.

There are a lot of conveniences to living on campus, too, from no frustrating commute to class, to nearby study groups and tutor sessions, to a wide variety of fun activities.

The point is, there are compromises and sacrifices you have to make in either situation. Whether you're eyeing an off-campus loft or leaning toward a university dorm room, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each before signing your name on the dotted line.

RELATED: Considering community college? Here are the pros and cons


About the author: Mark Simmonds brings 20 years of insurance industry experience to his role as managing director and chief product officer at Esurance. His diverse expertise in many areas of the business, including product, underwriting, finance, operations and more, help shape his writing.

A university education doesn’t come cheap, and a large portion of that cost is associated with student living. Both students who commute and those who live on campus have expenses unique to their living situations. Here, we outline some of the most common costs for both setups.

5 costs of the student commuter

It might seem like the expenses that come with commuting to campus pale in comparison to the hefty room-and-board costs associated with on-campus student housing. But you may be surprised to find out just how expensive it can be for students living in a place of their own (or even with a roommate).

1. Gas prices are… pricey.

Even if gas prices are the lowest they've been in months, they're still high. If you commute to campus on a regular basis, fuel costs are likely to be your largest expense aside from tuition and class fees. High gas prices can be especially hard-hitting if you have to drive across town or sit in stop-and-go traffic (or both) just to get to class.

2. Car maintenance and repairs aren't cheap.

Making frequent commutes to and from campus puts a lot of wear and tear on your ride. If you're racking up a lot of miles, you're going to need more frequent oil changes, new tires and tire rotations, fluid top-offs, and other routine maintenance. And since your car's exposed to the elements (both Mother Nature and other cars) during your commute, you may be more likely to get into a crash or suffer other costly damage to your vehicle.

3. Auto insurance premiums are often steeper for commuters.

It's no surprise that students who drive their cars more often and/or for greater distances will typically pay more for car insurance. Your average annual mileage and the main purpose for which you use your car (commuting, for pleasure, business use, etc.) can contribute to your premium considerably. Plus, more driving means more risk when it comes to accidents, theft, and glass damage claims, to name just a few. And with higher exposure to risk, you'll usually see higher insurance premiums.

4. Living in an off-campus apartment can be expensive, too.

College dorms have notoriously high rent, sure, but that definitely doesn't mean that off-campus living is inexpensive—even if you're rooming with a friend or two. Apartment prices in college towns are significantly inflated compared to suburban rentals of similar size and quality. And even though your parents' homeowners insurance might cover you for certain instances while you're away at school, you may want to consider financially protecting your belongings with your own rental insurance policy, just in case.

Plus, living in your own place means you're responsible for scheduling maintenance, paying utilities, doing your own laundry, and setting up cable service, among other duties and responsibilities. On the other hand, taking care of these tasks on your own helps significantly reduce your cost of living when compared to those of a dorm.

5. Time is money.

As a student, any extra time you do have is very valuable—whether that means hitting the books before an exam, exercising to release stress, socializing with friends or family, or just, you know, relaxing. So spending your time commuting to and from campus can not only be exhausting and expensive, but it can also mean having less time to do the activities you enjoy.

RELATED: Do you need college tuition insurance?

4 On-campus housing expenses

Commuting to campus can be a costly endeavor, but dormitory living is no exception — it just has different types of expenses.

1. Room and board costs are no joke.

The cost of your college room and board depends on the student housing and meal plan you choose, but no matter how you look at it, it's pricey. For the 2016-2017 school year, the College Board reported that the average room-and-board cost was $10,440 at four-year public schools, while it was $11,890 at private colleges. And it's important to note that this cost is completely separate from the hefty price tags of tuition, textbooks, transportation, entertainment, clothing and other living expenditures.

2. Business prices are often inflated near universities.

College towns are often the cultural hotspots of a given area, and businesses know that people will pay higher prices to be amidst all the action and excitement. You can expect college towns and their surrounding areas to have higher rent costs, pricier dining and bar tabs, more expensive groceries, higher laundromat fees and even inflated gas prices. For a frugal college student, these expenses can (and do) add up very quickly.

3. College costs are higher for some students.

Did you know that a growing number of universities in the U.S. are requiring their full-time freshman students to live in school dormitories for their first school year? School officials argue that the requirement is beneficial to students because it allows them to network, focus more on academics and become immersed in college culture.

Despite all the great things that on-campus life has to offer, there's no denying the fact that freshman dorm requirements tack on a huge expense to an already-large bill of textbooks, laptops, class fees and meal plans—the latter of which can easily cost thousands of dollars per semester.

4. Personal privacy can be an issue.

Sharing communal bathrooms (including showers) with an entire floor of dormitory students can get old really fast. Having your own, quiet space is priceless, especially when you're studying to achieve your best exam scores.

There are a lot of conveniences to living on campus, too, from no frustrating commute to class, to nearby study groups and tutor sessions, to a wide variety of fun activities.

The point is, there are compromises and sacrifices you have to make in either situation. Whether you're eyeing an off-campus loft or leaning toward a university dorm room, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each before signing your name on the dotted line.

RELATED: Considering community college? Here are the pros and cons


About the author: Mark Simmonds brings 20 years of insurance industry experience to his role as managing director and chief product officer at Esurance. His diverse expertise in many areas of the business, including product, underwriting, finance, operations and more, help shape his writing.

 

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