College Students: Should You Live On Or Off Campus?

Two of the advantages of living in the dorms are proximity to classes and the social atmosphere.

Two of the advantages of living in the dorms are proximity to classes and the social atmosphere.

Your college student has applied and gotten into the college of their dreams. Now the moment has come for your college-bound son or daughter to think about whether they want to live on or off campus. The decision is a big one and a very individual one. It’s a good idea to sit down and think about what’s important to your student to achieve academic success. Here are a few things to consider when looking at a life on or off campus.


One of the first reasons students often cite for moving off campus is to save money. Depending on the school and area, sharing rent with several roommates and doing your own cooking can cost less than room and board in a dorm. However, that isn’t always the case. It is important that your student have a realistic picture of the costs of living off of campus.

Here are a few things students need to factor in:

  • Not only their portion of rent, but any initial deposit
  • First and last month’s rent
  • Cost of food
  • Cost of utilities if they are not included in the rent
  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Laundry costs
  • Cleaning costs
  • Transportation to and from campus

Advantages & Disadvantages of Dorms

Two of the advantages of living in college residence halls are proximity to classes and the social atmosphere. However, that social atmosphere may also be one of the primary disadvantages to living in a dorm. Students often find that there is little privacy and a lot of noise. Your student may want to get away from the noise, distractions, partying and needing to constantly deal with other students.


The positive about living on campus is you don’t have to worry about paying rent every month since most colleges make students pay for housing in full before the semester. You also don’t need to worry about commuting to campus because the student is just minutes from classes, and students don’t need to worry about cooking because they pay for a meal plan in advance.

However, living off campus also gives your student a since of responsibility. That’s because a student will have to take care of all costs involved every month for the apartment as well as the possibility of dealing with any roommate issues that may come up without the aid of a residence assistant.

Whatever your student ultimately decides about living on or off campus, this is an opportunity for parents to have a conversation with their college-bound student about goals, frustrations and dreams for the future.

Westface College Planning can help you navigate the college planning process from start to finish. To learn how we can help you call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.

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