What College Students Need to Know Before Living on Their Own

What College Students Need to Know Before Living on Their Own

If the first time you’ll live on your own is during college, many of the previous chapters will apply. However, you may also have a few extra considerations.

Living off campus is a big decision. For many people, it’s the first time they live on their own. In this chapter, we’ll address concerns that are especially relevant to college students.

college students living on their own

Is Living Off Campus the Right Decision? Am I Ready to Move Out?

Selecting a major and determining where you’ll pursue your education are major decisions. In many cases, students who go away to school start by living on campus. But, after the first year — or maybe in the very beginning — you may begin to look at other options. One of the first will be whether living off campus is the right decision for you.

Like so many other topics we’ve discussed, this decision is personal and depends on your lifestyle and needs. To get started, though, it might be helpful to begin with a few statistics.

The number of students living off campus varies at community colleges and standard four-year universities, but no matter what you decide, you won’t be alone. However, the question remains: Is off-campus living the right scenario for you?

For some students, living on campus is important for the convenience. It may be easier to walk to classes and other necessary areas, especially if a car is not permitted. Many universities require freshmen to live on campus. But, when the choice is yours to make, living off campus may provide extra opportunities to save.

You’ll need to pay attention to rental costs versus those associated with on-campus living at your school. After looking at the more significant costs, check out PSECU’s Off-Campus Living Worksheet to determine which situation is best for you from a cost perspective.

On-campus costs to consider include parking fees, laundry fees, and other expenses. On the other hand, off-campus living may include security deposits, application fees, cable/internet costs, and more. The worksheet above will help provide clarity during your decision-making process.

If privacy is a determining factor for you, and the costs seem to balance themselves out, living off campus may be a good choice. Instead of sharing a dorm, you could have access to your own room and private living space. This may provide a greater sense of independence than living at home.

If you decide to live off campus, the same rules that apply to saving for an apartment outside of college, including budgeting and the cost of other expenses covered in earlier chapters, will apply. You’ll still want to perform a thorough search to find a living space that is right for your situation and needs, too. Be sure to focus on chapter 2 and chapter 3 for more information about saving and budgeting effectively.

As you think about your decision, remember that deciding whether to live on campus or off campus is an individual decision that depends on numerous factors. This guide cannot make your decision, but it may help identify factors you may not have considered.

Smart College Savings Tips

College comes with its own set of challenges. It’s expensive on its own — without adding additional, unnecessary costs.

One of the most important aspects of college is your education. But, how do you focus on studying when you’re concerned about expenses? It all starts with making smart decisions from day one.

Student loans are a top concern among college students. In fact,  54% of the millennial generation is worried about their ability to pay back their student loans, and the current student debt amount accrues by an estimated $2,726 per second.

Those numbers are large and could be intimidating. But, there are ways to navigate school while minimizing the debt you incur during the process. For example, if you go to a college in your area, you can save on room and board by living at home.

This is also a great time to save money to buy a home after college or spend a summer abroad. Another fact to consider is the tuition at most state colleges is often less expensive for in-state students. Staying closer to home may be a wise decision as far as financing is concerned.

Other ways to save during college include:

  • Avoiding credit card debt. While that free t-shirt, water bottle or other promotional item offered in exchange for your application might be a great draw, coming out of school with too much credit card debt is probably not worth it. Consider using a checking account with a debit card to work with what you have already, instead of adding credit cards that come with their own level of risk.
  • Buying used books. You need books to get through your classes. There’s no way around it, but there are ways to save. When you receive your book list, check for used book options online or ask friends who’ve recently taken the course if they’d be willing to sell you their book or let you borrow it.
  • Looking for electronic options. More e-books are available than ever before. Do a search to see if an electronic book option exists for each of your classes. It may be more cost effective than the traditional, hard-copy version.
  • Selling your used books and items. College bookstores and websites make it simple to trade in used books.
  • Considering the savings tips mentioned in chapter 3. Saving on food, utilities, and other expenses while living on your own budget is just as possible on campus as it is off campus.

Whether you decide to live on campus or start searching for options away from the school, take your time. Don’t rush into the wrong decision. College is the first of many big decisions you’ll make after high school. You want to be sure you make the right one for you.

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