Undergraduate students who choose to live on-campus benefit in a number of ways, and some of the most affordable college dorms in America offer opportunities to form long-lasting friendships as well as a better chance to achieve higher grades than those residing off-campus at home or in nearby apartments. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of room and board at a public postsecondary school in the U.S. was $10,743 for the 2017-2018 academic year. That rate increased to $12,398 for private institutions.
When choosing a campus a student is going to call home for the next several years, cost is naturally a key consideration. However, undergraduates need not compromise or break the bank in order to live in a charming environment The following 30 institutions boast exceptionally inviting residence halls, and many cost less than the 2017-2018 national average. Moreover, not only are these affordable dormitories pleasing to the eye, but they also feature outstanding amenities and exciting social scenes to boot, offering some of the best-value college experiences that money can buy.
The goal of the following list is to identify and rank the top 30 most inviting yet affordable college dorms in America. In order to determine which campuses to include, we consulted several sources, including the NCES College Navigator Database, each school’s website, and articles from The Princeton Review, Architectural Digest, and Business Insider as indicated below. We generated a list from the articles and narrowed down the initial pool of 60 schools into the top 30, ranking each campus and awarding points based on the following methodology. We investigated individual residence halls, taking factors into consideration such as amenities and facilities, aesthetic appeal, and the social scene of each dorm.
Annual Cost of Room and Board
In order to obtain the most up-to-date, accurate information for the academic year 2017-18, the most recent available, we turned to the NCES for data. We awarded points based on the annual cost of room and board for undergraduate students, giving the most points to the least expensive campuses. In order to be considered in the ranking, the combined cost of room and board, excluding tuition and fees, must be at or below $15,000 per year.
Under $5,000: 4 points
$5,001 to $7,500: 3 points
$7,501 to $10,000: 2 points
$10,001 to $15,000: 1 point
College Dorm Ranking
As exciting as it would be to visit every dorm room in the country, doing so would be impossible. Still, we believe it is important to provide students with information that helps them choose the most alluring undergraduate housing that won’t drain their wallets. For this reason, we turned to resources such as The Princeton Review, Architectural Digest, and Business Insider. Using information from these articles, we awarded points based on their rankings for the best college dorms in the U.S. according to the following table.
Most Inviting College Dorm Ranking:
1-10: 3 points
11-20: 2 points
21-30: 1 point
Ranking Top 30 Most Inviting Yet Affordable College Dorms in America
30. Corban University
Located in Salem, Oregon, one of Corban University’s defining characteristics is its intimacy, with fewer than 1,000 undergraduate students. The school is ranked among the best in the country for its housing options, and it is noted for its ample, convenient parking. Living arrangements range from a double to a quad, and the quality of the dorm rooms depend on which setup the student chooses. If one is dissatisfied, however, current and former students agree that changing rooms or dorms is painless, quick, and easy. Students who choose to move from on-campus to off-campus housing are likely to enjoy Corban’s proximity to the Willamette Valley and surrounding vineyards.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $10,360
#18 by Business Insider
29. University of Mobile
The University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama is more well-known for its fantastic campus housing than its academics. A private postsecondary institution, its dorms are spacious and clean, and students can take advantage of conveniently located laundry rooms. Students can choose from suite- or private-style rooms, and the school offers free Internet, free cable, a 24-hour fitness center, and 24-hour security. All full-time undergraduates are required to participate in the 19-meal plan, while juniors and seniors may opt for the 10-meal plan. Both plans offer flex dollars that students can spend at any food retail locations on-campus.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $9,600
#29 by Business Insider
28. Indiana Wesleyan University
Once known as Marion College, Indiana Wesleyan University is known for its global aspirations as well as its alignment with John Wesley’s Wesleyan Methodist Church. IWU ranks highly for the quality of its campus and housing as well as its food, drug safety initiatives, and even parking. IWU supports 12 different undergraduate Christ-centered residential communities that provide challenging yet supportive places for students to learn, live, and grow. On-campus students also benefit from the peer support and informal mentoring that can happen when students share life and learning together. Community is at the core of IWU’s commitments, and the school implements learning and faith as communal activities throughout its dorm rooms and across its campus.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $8,480
#26 by Business Insider
27. Pacific Union College
Pacific Union College’s 150-acre campus sits on 1,900 acres of prime California land. Students can bask in the beautiful weather of the Bay Area or take advantage of many opportunities for nearby off-campus adventures. On campus, each residence hall room contains two beds, dresser drawers, desks and chairs, closets, and one sink with a mirror. All residence halls feature Internet, locker storage, laundry facilities, a community kitchen, and vending machines. Other amenities such as television rooms, exercise and recreational rooms, and parlor fireplaces may also be available. Current and former students agree that there is a high level of camaraderie among students in the different residence halls, noting the feeling of family and the abundant opportunities for social experiences.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $8,310
#23 by Business Insider
26. Cedarville University
Located in Cedarville, Ohio, residence life at Cedarville University fosters unforgettable college memories and lifelong friendships. Approximately 80 percent of undergraduate students live on-campus among both upperclassmen and underclassmen, learning together from a variety of experiences, opinions, and backgrounds. Nearly all of the dorm rooms are double occupancy, and each residence hall room comes standard with desk chairs, desks, closets or wardrobes, chests of drawers, and bunk beds. Residents share a common lounge area outfitted with a television, and wireless Internet service is available throughout the building. Additionally, each building provides one or two laundry rooms that students can use at no extra cost.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $7,360
25. Auburn University at Montgomery
Auburn University at Montgomery offers on-campus students benefits such as getting involved in a community, making better grades, living and learning with friends, and being close to classes and activities. AUM’s residence halls are either recently renovated or new, providing the home-like environment that students seek. Free high-quality Internet services, free cable television, study lounges, free laundry areas, free parking, local telephone service, and in-house computer labs are among the provided amenities. Students can choose from single and double rooms in an efficiency apartment just steps from AUM classrooms or single rooms in an apartment-style high-rise with a spectacular view of campus.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $6,980
24. Alabama State University
The residential community at Alabama State University is a supportive environment in which students find a respect for individual rights and an appreciation for individual differences. Residence halls feature year-round climate control, large recreational and social areas, study rooms, wireless Internet connections, newly renovated digital laundry facilities, and all of the amenities of traditional college dorms such as beds, desks, chairs, and closets. Students who live in one of ASU’s residence halls benefit from a meal plan that is covered under the cost of room and board. Meals are available at both the Shuttlesworth Dining Hall and the Student Center Food Court.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $6,050
23. Oklahoma Panhandle State University
Although not required, approximately 72 percent of freshman at Oklahoma Panhandle State University choose to live on-campus in either private or semi-private rooms or renovated private or semi-private rooms in the school’s two traditional residence halls. Both buildings are wired for free cable television and free high-speed Internet and include central lobbies for socializing and convenient on-site laundry facilities. Other living options include apartments for both underclassmen and upperclassmen as well as student housing for married students, students with full-time custody of children, or non-traditional students 25 years of age or older.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $5,302
22. Emory University
All first-year students at Emory University are required to live in on-campus housing which creates communities throughout the school’s more than 20 residence halls. Students who reside in Atlanta with immediate family members are exempt from the on-campus housing requirement. About three in four undergraduates, including all first- and second-year students, live on-campus, fostering a sense of involvement and community in college life. Amenities include laundry facilities, wireless Internet, television lounges with pool tables and parlors, and community kitchens with vending machines. All residential students must participate in Emory’s meal plan, and several choices are available to accommodate a range of dietary preferences and needs.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $14,506
#3 by The Princeton Review
21. St. Lawrence University
Canton, New York
St. Lawrence University is a residential university that requires students to live in one of its 14 dorms, 15 theme houses, or 24 senior townhouses during each semester. Each of these places features a different personality and characteristics that make it unique. First-year residence halls come equipped with kitchenettes, multipurpose rooms, vending machines, computer labs, free laundry facilities, and shared bathrooms for each sex. Residence halls also sponsor many cultural, educational, and social activities. The school’s small size promotes a strong sense of community among its staff, faculty, and students. Although the dorm rooms are incredible on their own, students agree that it is the friendships and relationships they form that make them feel right at home.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $14,134
#9 by Architectural Digest
20. Arcadia University
Arcadia University offers many housing options that encourage independence and the development of various skills as students progress through their college education. The four traditional residence halls are designed to encourage interaction among residents and emphasize compromise, cooperation, and respect for others. Amenities found in the traditional residence halls include common bathrooms on all floors, a central location to campus resources, air-conditioned main lobbies, vending areas with pool tables and flat-screen televisions, and free laundry facilities on the ground floors. Guest rooms and single rooms are also available in several residence halls as well. Single rooms are available upon request and are offered at a higher room rate than other spaces.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $13,800
#1 by Architectural Digest
19. Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, Texas
Texas Christian University aims to create communities in which students build friendships, study, and live. No matter which residence hall students call home, many enjoy the sense of belonging and close-knit community at TCU. All residence halls with the exception of one are coeducational, and they are similar in terms of room specifications and amenities. Most rooms are double occupancy, but TCU offers triple occupancy rooms across campus. All residence halls feature lounges for socializing and studying as well as laundry facilities. In addition, all first-year residence halls provide community-style restrooms with the exception of three buildings that offer a combination of community and semi-private restrooms.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $12,804
#6 by The Princeton Review
18. Illinois Institute of Technology
The Illinois Institute of Technology aims to empower residents by providing support services and leadership opportunities that foster personal growth, academic success, and community development. There are two apartment buildings and nine residence halls in which 1,600 students can make their “home away from home” while they pursue their education. Students benefit from a dynamic and focused learning environment and other advantages such as close proximity to classes, the Campus Center, and Keating Gym as well as access to a wide variety of programs and events hosted at different buildings across campus.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $12,762
#10 by Architectural Digest
17. University of Virginia
The University of Virginia strives to maximize opportunities for intellectual growth, personal development, self-governance, and community. Centrally-located, student residential communities are in close proximity to state-of-the-art fitness centers, contemporary dining facilities, and virtually all academic classrooms. All incoming first-year undergraduates are required to live on-campus, and students may choose to live in one of UVA’s residential colleges — close-knit communities that foster intellectual and social interaction between students and faculty. First-year students pay the same rate regardless of the residential area in which they live or whether they are assigned to a single, double, or triple room.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $11,590
#4 by Architectural Digest
16. Christopher Newport University
Newport News, Virginia
At Christopher Newport University, students live in modern residence halls with all the comforts and amenities of home. Every room has electronic room access, satellite cable television, high-speed Internet, and air conditioning as well as a microwave and mini-refrigerator or kitchen access. Laundry facilities are conveniently located in each hall. First-, second-, and third-year students are required to live on-campus, and most first-year residence halls are comprised of two two- or three-person bedrooms joined by a shared bathroom. Some freshmen are housed in suite-style rooms with two two- or three-person bedrooms, a shared bathroom, and a living room.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $11,460
#9 by Business Insider
15. Union University
Student apartments at Union University are scattered between several residential complexes. Residents live in four-student apartments, with a private bedroom for each student, and residents share laundry, living room, and kitchen facilities as well as one or two bathrooms. Ranked as the #2 “Best Dorm” in the country by Niche.com, students moving into one of the school’s on-campus apartments can also enjoy many sociable traditions, a number of which revolve around food such as free cuisine during finals and the meet-and-greet-style snacking day. On-campus students also enjoy the use of Bowld Student Commons, a 30,000-square-foot multipurpose space for athletics or meetings with game rooms, an Internet lounge, music rooms, television lounges, a second-floor walking track, and areas in which campus organizations can gather.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $10,590
#8 by Business Insider
14. Wheaton College
Wheaton College offers multiple housing options, including four traditional residence halls, 25 campus houses, and four campus apartments. Freshman and sophomore students are required to live in residence halls. Williston Hall, the most charming of the four, dates back to 1895, while McManis-Evans Hall is a favorite for its community pool and ping pong tables. Smith-Traber Hall and Fischer Hall are said to be the most sociable on-campus dorms, with Fischer’s co-educational lounges and lobby area serving as ideal gathering spaces. In addition to attractive campus housing, other highly rated areas of student interest include health and safety, campus food, and academics.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $10,180
#20 by The Princeton Review
#21 by Business Insider
13. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
In addition to being recognized for its high-quality academic programs, Southwestern Assemblies of God University is also known for its campus food, health and safety initiatives, parking, and campus housing. Depending on the building, the residence halls feature micro-fridges, computer lines, and phone lines as well as laundry facilities, study rooms, lobbies, and prayer rooms. Each room features bunk beds, a chest of drawers, and a desk for each student. Students may also choose to live in on-campus two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments if they are married or responsible for small children. Rent includes access to the Garrison Wellness Center and all utilities with the exception of electric. A stackable washer and dryer, refrigerator, small kitchen, high-speed Internet, and 24/7 security are also provided.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $7,500
#25 by Business Insider
12. Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Northwestern Oklahoma State University provides four on-campus residence halls: two for men and two for women. On-campus students can take advantage of each hall’s recreation rooms and access to tennis courts, basketball courts, and a beach volleyball area. The yearly cost of room and board is significantly lower than the national average, leaving plenty of leftover cash for students to participate in all of the local events offered throughout the community. On-campus students may also take advantage of a customized dorm package that can be delivered to their rooms prior to move-in, consisting of all the necessary essentials needed at NOSU, including custom-fitted sheets, a lap desk, dining set, storage set, shower caddy, and bath set. All housing residents are required to have a meal plan.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $4,480
11. Brigham Young University – Idaho
Students pursuing a college education from Brigham Young University – Idaho may choose to room at Centre Square, a recent development on the school’s campus in Rexburg, Idaho. Featuring green spaces, generously sized apartments, and newly minted traditions like volleyball contests and complimentary pizza, the complex is inviting and affordable. Students may choose from two, three, and four-bedroom options, and amenities include multiple fridges, an in-apartment washer and dryer, a dishwasher, a microwave and range, and keyless entry. Other housing options include University Village, which consists of university-owned married student housing, and community housing, which provides housing options for married students.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $4,172
10. Loyola University Maryland
The 17 residence halls at Loyola University Maryland combine the space and comfort of top-notch accommodations with the activity of dorm life. Approximately 80 percent of undergraduate students live on-campus, many for all four years of their Loyola education. Fully furnished, modern, spacious apartment-style and double-room homes are equipped with recreation areas, vending machines, laundry facilities, air conditioning, and heating. Students also enjoy healthy, fresh, made-from-scratch meals that focus on local seasonal items with selections that change over the course of the day. Multiple meal plans are available based on a student’s needs and dietary preferences.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $14,430
#16 by Business Insider
#19 by The Princeton Review
9. Kansas State University
More than 5,000 students live on-campus at Kansas State University. With a large apartment community, 10 residence halls, one leadership/scholarship house for women, and a house for honors students, KSU has every housing option covered. Although not required, first- and second-year students are encouraged to live in a residence hall, where they have direct access to on-site laundry facilities, tutoring programs, dining service, and leadership opportunities. KSU’s Jardine Apartments are designed for upper-division, non-traditional, and graduate students as well as students who are married, with or without children, and single parents. Freshmen who can show that they are prepared to live more independently may be considered for a hybrid option, which allows for apartment living but on a 10-month lease like the residence hall contract.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $9,680
#16 by The Princeton Review
8. Florida Gulf Coast University
Fort Myers, Florida
Approximately 80 percent of freshmen live on-campus at Florida Gulf Coast University. FGCU’s North Lake Village consists of two-bedroom quads for four people that include two bathrooms, a living room, and kitchen, and residences are nestled along a gorgeous 80-acre recreational lake. Students can take advantage of a picnic spot, a beach volleyball space, and a pool. South Village, primarily reserved for freshmen and a limited number of sophomores, is comprised of five dorms that feature everything from television areas and game rooms to gyms and movie theaters. West Lake Village is reserved to upperclassmen, where students have their own private bathroom and bedroom and share a full kitchen and living room with other suitemates.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $9,672
#10 by Business Insider
7. California Baptist University
Arguably the most picturesque community on campus, The Cottages at California Baptist University offers unparalleled accommodations. Featuring courtyard-facing, charming patios, The Cottages was designed with socializing in mind, whether it is an in-depth homework session or a late-night card game. The Cottages is also located at the heart of CBU, making it an ideal choice for students looking to be close to their classes. Similar amenities are available at women-only freshman residence Simmons Hall and men-only Smith Hall, while upperclassmen can choose from living quarters in Lancer Arms, The Point, The Village, College Park, University Place, and The Colony.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $9,060
#7 by Business Insider
6. Asbury University
Asbury University offers some of the most competitive room and board rates in Kentucky. Between prayer time with other residents, Bible studies, and seasonal events, friendships made on-campus are likely to last a lifetime. The school’s primary goal is to create and maintain a God-honoring community with an appropriate mix of support and challenge, designed to strengthen relationships. Each of the school’s residential areas offers a unique living environment, including two men’s residencies, Trustees Hall and Johnson Hall, and two women’s residencies, Kresge Hall and Glide-Crawford Residence Hall. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may choose to live in Aldersgate Commons, which consists of six apartment-style residence halls.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $7,160
#17 by Business Insider
5. Johnson University
Johnson University’s dorms provide an ideal setting for neighbors to become lifelong friends and for peers to become family. The school’s campus in Knoxville, Tennessee boasts Brown Hall and Johnson Hall, two well-equipped and modern residence halls for undergraduate students. Each two-person dorm room features a private bath, movable furniture, personal temperature controls, and Internet access. Residence halls are outfitted with laundry facilities, two full-sized kitchens, and additional storage space, and they are within easy walking distance of the dining hall, academic buildings, and the student center. Ample parking is available near the dorms for student vehicles.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $7,202
#11 by Business Insider
4. Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Regent University offers two on-campus housing options: Regent Commons and Regent Village. Regent Commons is reserved primarily for single undergraduates and offers apartment-style living with versatile floor plans ranging in size from studio to four-bedroom suites. Students enjoy cable television service, wireless internet, all utilities included, and amenities such as a 24-hour fitness center, 24-hour security, courtesy washers and dryers, and plenty of campus life activities. Students also benefit from easy access to nearby restaurants, malls, and the spectacular oceanfront of Virginia Beach. All first-year freshmen who live outside of a 25-mile radius of the school are required to live on-campus. Regent Village is reserved for upperclassmen undergraduate, older undergraduate, and graduate students, offering an atmosphere of a more traditional neighborhood with the convenience of living near campus.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $7,080
#3 by Business Insider
3. Bowdoin College
Ranked highly by both The Princeton Review and Business Insider, housing options for students at Bowdoin College range from residence hall rooms to apartment-style living to off-campus houses. All first-year undergraduates are required to live in one of eight residential halls, and each floor of these eight buildings has one upperclass student resident assistant and one upperclass student proctor. Washers and dryers are available in each building, and students pay for each load of laundry with their Bowdoin OneCard which acts as their photo ID, campus debit card, laundry card, meal card, room key, and dorm key. Upperclassmen participate in a “housing lottery” each year to either choose from the different on-campus apartment and room configurations or be approved to live off-campus during their junior or senior years.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $14,698
#2 by The Princeton Review
#2 by Business Insider
2. Rice University
Rice University’s college housing system is unique in that it resembles the house system in the Harry Potter books. Students matriculate with one of 11 residential colleges, each of which has its own dorms, public rooms, and dining halls. About 78 percent of all undergraduates and most of the first-year students reside at their associated colleges. Students typically stay within that same college until graduation, enriching their college experience through the diversity of other students’ goals, talents, academic interests and experiences, and backgrounds. This housing system generates close-knit, friendly college communities, and each college has a slightly different dormitory style, government, culture, and housing process.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $14,000
#6 by Business Insider
#10 by The Princeton Review
1. High Point University
High Point, North Carolina
Not only is High Point University known for its amazingly beautiful campus, but its housing options deserve the top spot on our list as well. High Point University offers a variety of choices for student living ranging from apartment-style single rooms to double-occupancy shared facilities for both incoming first-year students and upperclassmen. All of the dorm rooms at High Point are either brand new or recently renovated, and current and former students note that, in addition to being upgraded, the college housing is spacious and meticulously maintained. One of the most popular residence halls, Blessing Hall, features apartment-style rooms in which four single bedrooms share two baths, a living room, and a kitchen.
Annual Cost of Room and Board: $14,130
#4 by Business Insider
#5 by The Princeton Review
#12 by Architectural Digest
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should You Look For in a College Dorm?
Each year, college students must make a decision as to whether they will live on-campus or off-campus. Although off-campus living has its temptations, living in the dorm comes with perks as well. Community, price, and convenience all factor in, so once you have made the decision to live in on-campus housing, your next step is to choose a dorm.
Although dorms may be the same across the campus, it is possible that they will be different from each other. Colleges often remodel in spurts and add new buildings, causing some dorms to be radically different in amenities and size. When choosing your dorm, take into account the following four most important features.
It’s true what they say: Real estate is all about location, location, location. Selecting your dorm is no different. Every student has several places to which they require convenient access such as the buildings where their classes are and the cafeteria. Think about how close your potential dorm is to the places where you need to be. If you have a vehicle, keep in mind parking. If you have to walk a mile or two to get to your car, you may as well just walk to class instead.
Living on-campus means your mother can no longer do your laundry for you. Think about whether the dorms you are considering have laundry facilities and where they are located. Do you need to drag your laundry basket and/or bags down five flights of stairs to reach the laundry area in the basement? Do you need to pay for laundry? Is there a change machine nearby? How many students are expected to share the machines, and how many are available? You need to know in advance if you are going to have to schedule laundry in the wee hours of a Thursday morning in order to avoid the rush.
Other than room size, bathrooms are one of the most important features to consider. Sure, bathrooms are not terribly exciting, but remember that you will be using a bathroom throughout the day. Whether it is located down the hall or right in your dorm room makes a world of difference. Also, consider how many people you will be sharing the facilities with. A good rule of thumb is: The farther away or less convenient the bathroom, the further down that room or dorm should be on your list of prospective housing options.
4. Room Size
It goes without saying that you will spend an enormous amount of time in your room, doing everything from sleeping to studying to eating. Size matters. Although the floor plans and dimensions may be listed in the brochures, it would still be in your best interest to see the rooms in person and get a “real feel” of the space. Remember to keep in mind the number of students with whom you will be sharing the space. In most cases, the larger the room, the more students will be living there.
Is it Better to Live On-Campus or Off-Campus?
The decision to live on- or off-campus is one of the biggest decisions that college students must make. Although some universities and colleges require four-year freshmen to spend their first year in a dorm, there can be exceptions. Check out the following lists of advantages and disadvantages for living on-campus and off-campus.
- Built-in community
- Can be easier to furnish than apartments
- Students are more plugged-in to happenings around campus
- More social opportunities and chances to meet new people
- No monthly utilities, rent, or hidden fees
- Rules such as curfews, required meetings, and socializing
- Less independence
- Less privacy
- Less space
- Can be more expensive
- Students may feel stuck in the “school bubble”
- More space
- More independence and freedom
- May be cheaper
- More flexibility in terms of roommate choices
- Less moving to do as students can keep their housing during the summer months
- Feeling part of the greater community
- Commuting and hassles associated with traffic, parking, and gas
- More responsibility as there is no residential life office to help
- More stressful in keeping up with rent, utilities, Internet, repairs, and maintenance
- Less sense of community
- Costs of monthly bills plus maintaining and furnishing the space can add up
- Students may become out of touch with campus life
Dorm living can be appropriate for undergraduates and those who have never been away from home for extended periods of time, but off-campus living may be the better choice for established students looking for privacy and independence. Students must ultimately weigh all of the pros and cons of dorm rooms as well as apartment living to determine which housing situation best fulfills what they are looking for in their college living experiences.
What Other Expenses Can You Expect While Living On-Campus?
Living on-campus often means students can avoid the hassle of budgeting for utilities, dealing with a landlord, and paying rent every month. However, there are still a number of costs associated with affordable college living. As someone living in low-cost student housing, there are many expenses that you can control. For instance, a meal plan may be required, but you can buy the smallest one available and keep snacks on-hand in your room for times when you’re hungry. Similarly, if you take care of your room throughout the year, you won’t face charges for damage repairs or cleaning when you check out. Finally, taking care of yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep, and finding time to exercise can help eliminate unexpected costs on things like medications and doctor’s appointments.
Below is a sample budget for on-campus students. Keep in mind that your costs may be lower or higher depending on your lifestyle, your personal choices, and where you live. Consider the budget a template that you can revise based on your individual situation.
- Food (pizza delivery, in-room snacks): $40/month
- Personal items (laundry soap, makeup, deodorant, razors, soap): $15/month
- Clothes: $20/month
- Entertainment (seeing movies, going to clubs): $20/month
- Cell phone: $80/month
- School supplies (printer cartridges, pens, USB drive, paper for printer): $65/semester
- Books: $800-$1,000/semester
- Travel (trips home during holidays and breaks): $400/semester
- Transportation (gas if you have a car, bus pass, bike lock): $250/semester
- First-aid kit, over-the-counter medications, prescriptions: $125/semester
- Miscellaneous (new bike tires, computer repair): $150/semester
Some of the above line items can be subtracted or added as needed. For instance, your cell phone bill may differ than what is listed depending on your budget and your needs. Other things such as transportation may also be significantly different depending on whether you drive, walk, or bike around campus and the community. The nice thing about budgets is that you can always rework them to fit your own needs, so move things around until the numbers add up in your favor.
If you are looking for low-cost student housing that offers amenities, aesthetically pleasing rooms, and opportunities for social events, we hope that our list of the 30 most inviting yet affordable college dorms in America gives you a starting point as you set out to choose the right dorm for your upcoming college experience.