College is expensive, and the costs are only rising. Scholarships and grants can help mitigate the costs of higher education, but even students who receive such aid could find themselves scrambling for ways to make college more affordable.
Housing is one of the more expensive costs for college students and their families. According to the College Board, the average cost for room and board during the 2016-2017 school year was $10,440 at four-year public schools and $11,890 at private colleges and universities. And those costs typically cover housing for just the school year, which may last anywhere from six to eight months. However, there are ways for students and their families to reduce those costs.
• Examine your dormitory options. Many schools assign students to dormitories for their freshman years, giving students little say with regard to where they will live. However, students might have more input in their housing come their sophomore, junior and senior years. Some dorms might be more attractive and offer more amenities than others, but students and families looking to save money on housing costs should opt to live in the most budget-friendly dorms available to them. In addition, choose to live with a roommate rather than in a single room, as singles tend to cost substantially more than double rooms.
• Sign up to be a resident advisor. Resident advisors, or RAs, often receive free housing in exchange for living in dormitories when they are upperclassmen or graduate students. RAs help newly enrolled or younger students adjust to campus life while also ensuring nothing untoward happens on the floors they're tasked with looking after. Students who may want to apply for RA positions should first confirm if serving as an RA will affect their overall financial aid package and how great that impact might be.
• Live with roommates even after leaving the dorms. Due to limited space, many colleges insist dorm residents live with roommates. Upperclassmen who are moving out of the dorms and into university or off-campus apartments can save money by continuing to live with roommates. This can be especially beneficial to students who will be living in off-campus housing where amenities such as electricity, cable television and water are unlikely to be included in the cost of the rent.
• Commute to school. While it might not be ideal, commuting to school can save college students and their families substantial amounts of money. Public university students who did so during the 2016-2017 school year might have saved nearly $11,000, or $44,000 in four years. That's money that can be used to pay tuition or finance postgraduate educations.
College housing costs can be considerable. But budget-conscious students and families can save on such costs in various ways.