Tag Archives: Dorms

The Great Debate: Living On-Campus or Off-Campus?

11 Jan

Where you live and who you live with can be one of the most important decisions you make each year. There are benefits and drawbacks of each option, but the best choice varies for each person. Taking stock of what you want in your housing, how you’re paying for it and the various perks it offers can help you find the right spot to call home for the next year.

While residence halls (dorms) are often the go-to for first-year students, they are not mandatory to live in. Apartments and houses are available for incoming students off-campus too, but often you’ll need roommates and finding them when you’ve only been to campus once for a tour can be difficult. But no matter how long you’ve been in school, it’s a decision you have to make every year and a little comparison can only help you make the best choice for you!

living on campus or off campus22.jpg

One of the main differences between living on-campus & off-campus is the distance from your classes and buildings you need to visit. Living on-campus puts you in the closest proximity for getting to your classes, going to the co-rec, or making it to meetings with your advisor. Depending on how far you live off-campus this may or may not be an issue. If you live across the street from campus this is basically on-campus. However, if you’re a ways away you’ll have to rely on the buses, biking in, driving (if you’re quite a distance away), or just hoofing it. Unfortunately all of these options become a lot less fun when the weather goes cold.

Comparing prices between on-campus and off-campus can be difficult since there’s a wide range for both choices and difference in how you have to pay for them. On-campus residence halls and apartments are generally going to cost you more than living off-campus. However, the big difference many people neglect is how you pay for them. Payment for your housing (and meal plan) is due at beginning of the semester along with your tuition if you live on-campus. If you live off-campus in a house or apartment you will be making a payment each month. These monthly payments are typically much easier to pay out of pocket rather than having to come up with a whole semester’s housing all at once.

If you’re living off-campus, you’ll also want to pay attention to your utility bills in addition to your rent – a problem that living on-campus doesn’t have as it’s a fixed rate. Paying for things like heat, electricity and internet can bust your budget if you had not factored them in. Additionally your laundry situation can involve many things including nothing in your place, having coin-operated machines, or even the mythical free-to-use machines in a place where you don’t have to pay utilities.

One cost that you’ll have to pay for whether you live on or off-campus is your food. There’s no difference in the rates for meal plans where you live, but if you don’t live close to campus your plans to eat every meal in a dining hall probably won’t end up happening. As previously mentioned, your cost for a meal plan is due up-front at the beginning of the semester. Even if you have a meal plan it definitely won’t be your source for 100% of your food as you’ll probably buy snacks, go out to eat at a restaurant or grab food to go from another source at some point.

Possibly the biggest make-or-break part of anywhere that you live is your roommate. Rooming with someone you never met, or even your best friend, can be extremely difficult. Whether it’s sleeping a few feet from them in a dorm room or just sharing a kitchen and living room in an apartment, roommate issues are a frequent source of contention. While you do have the option to have your own place, it comes at a considerable cost both on and off campus. The showering situation in the residence halls might get a bit of flack but sharing a shower with a few of your friends and not cleaning it properly or often enough can make its own frightful situation.

The last major consideration is whether you plan on being around during the summer for classes, internships/ jobs, or just because. Most off-campus contracts are year-round so if you’re splitting back to your family’s home once classes end you’ll still be paying for your place at school. However, living in a residence hall and having summer classes can put you in a spot in having to find a sublease too. While it’s not usually too hard to find options since so many students would rather have someone sublet from them than have to pay their rent during the summer it’s not always the easiest to find a perfect situation to slide into.

Remember, you can use your financial aid to pay for living both on and off-campus! If you live on-campus you’re billed for housing along with tuition and it is due when classes start. This makes it extremely important to have your aid lined up for the beginning of the semester. If your aid doesn’t cover everything that you owe, you’ll need to find a way to cover the difference or create a payment plan with the Bursar’s Office. Any extra aid above what you are billed (whether you live on or off-campus) will be refunded to you. If you’re living off-campus it’s usually a good plan to put this toward your rent. Paying ahead can be great for lifting any worries for a while, just be sure to get a receipt if you do!

Where should I live?

14 Aug

Denver Bailey, Purdue Student Studying Film
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Are you having trouble deciding to live on or off campus? This is one of the most important decisions you will make for the academic year.  Where you choose to stay for the year will decide how much loan or aid you will need for the year, but you don’t want to choose your housing based on price.  You want to make sure to choose the proper housing for your budget and your lifestyle.

Residence halls are typically the first choice for first year students. They are typically on campus and within a short walk to your classes. This means you can sleep in later, and as most college students know, every minute of sleep counts. The dining courts are open periodically throughout the day and having your food prepared saves more time for studying. Before selecting a resident hall, do some further research to find out which one is going to best suited for you.   Click here  for a closer look at the resident halls on Purdue University’s campus.

apartment living room

apartment living room

Purdue lounge

seating lounge

Renting an apartment or a house can be a wise decision for someone who is looking for a little more responsibility, more personal space, and a chance to keep some cash in their pocket. With the money I save living off campus, I am able to stay year round versus the typical 9 months most students stay. Trust me, not moving my things twice a year is a bonus. I had to make sure I chose the best possible place and with apartments, it is all about location, location, location, and benefits.  Typically, the farther you go from campus, the more affordable the apartment is going to be. However, if you go too far you might end up paying more in gas and you might have to buy a parking pass. Ensure you’ll make it on time by finding an apartment that offers free transportation or is at least located on the CityBus route. You may not be able to find an apartment that offers 3 meals a day and unlimited soft drinks like the Purdue dining halls, but you can find apartments with swimming pools, gyms, and movie theatres. Before you sign a lease, make a list of benefits you would like to have in an apartment and then visit BoilerApartments to get a closer look at apartment options in the local area.

While off campus living gives you more personal space, Residence halls are filled with many other students. Sometimes those students even share the same major as you. This creates an open door for group study. The residence halls give a close network with many possibilities for mentoring and friends. I lived in a residence hall my first year, and I didn’t like the experience of sharing a room with another person.  There are many things I had to adjust to while living in the hall. For example: Residence halls only have community showers. Even though the hall came with a lot of trouble, I would do it all again to have the friends I have today. My first friends on campus were people I met just walking around the halls, and these people are still my best friends today. Before you jump to sign a lease, make sure you can make friends and build a network in the off-campus environment. Joining clubs and getting involved in extracurricular activities on campus help everyone develop socially.

apartment bedroom

apartment bedroom

Before settling on a residence hall or renting somewhere off-campus, determine what is important to you and create a budget for housing and food. Some people will spend their whole time at Purdue in a Residence Halls because living in an apartment is just not for them. Some people will never live on campus because it doesn’t fit in their budget.  When you get down to it, you’ll realize that it’s the little things that matter.  I personally don’t like to put quarters in my washing machine to turn it on, and I’ve never had to do this off campus. After you calculate how much money you can budget for housing, complete the following housing test by agreeing or disagreeing to the statements. This will help decide which living situation you would feel most comfortable in.

  1. I prefer sleeping in.

    Purdue Dorm Room

    Purdue Dorm Room

  2. I would rather walk to class.
  3. I can or will learn to cook.
  4. I have transportation to night classes/late exams.
  5. I don’t mind sharing a room with a person I have never met.
  6. I will be involved in clubs/activities.
  7. I would like to have a pet.
  8. I will be working throughout the year to pay for my housing.
  9. I am comfortable with community showers.
  10. I plan on taking summer classes.

If you “Agree” with 5 or more of these statements a residence hall may be a good choice for you.

If you “Disagree” with 5 or more of these statements an off campus housing solution may be a good choice for you.

  

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