Going to college? You may have already realized that it comes with more expenses than you initially thought. Apart from tuition, school supplies, and registration and activity fees, there’s also the cost of housing to consider. What happens if you don’t end up qualifying for a slot in one of the residence halls?
Continue reading below to find alternatives to on-campus dormitories and discover tips on how to pay housing in college without wiping out your savings or allowance.
Leverage your college or university resources
Your college’s student services department is a great place to visit when you need help with housing concerns. The department can provide you with a database of resources and a list of affordable student housing as well as connect you with other students looking for housing.
The department’s financial aid office can also let you know if you qualify for some sort of aid. Students who come from low-income to modest financial backgrounds can qualify to get assistance from FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Money from FAFSA can be used to cover housing expenses. And if you don’t qualify for FAFSA, the aid office might know of special merit-based grants you’re eligible for.
Look at listings aimed at students
If you have to live off-campus, take a look at apartments and other rental properties that advertise to students. These rentals are typically more affordable options and already have amenities that benefit or support student life. One sample benefit is that the property is located close to campus or in a neighborhood with a high student population.
As you search for listings online, take note of the asking rent prices, security deposits, and other requirements. This information will help you reach a ballpark figure that you can use to estimate the general cost of living in the area.
You may also want to look into living in a student housing co-operative. Student co-ops are a dorm-like housing option for members of a student co-operative. Unlike apartments, student co-ops don’t have landlords. Instead, the students themselves maintain the home and share communal areas. Because of this setup, room and board is more affordable.
If your search for housing is taking you farther out, consider looking at rentals that advertise several bedrooms. They’re good options if you already know a group of students willing to live with you under the same roof.
Figure your budget
College comes with a long list of expenses. Since you have to juggle these expenses with limited savings, figure out which expenses should have priority over others.
To do this, look at the money that’s at your disposal every month. That includes money from grants, stipends, allowances, and pay from a job.
Now, compare it with a list of the expenses you have to cover, which should include:
- Room and board
- Utility bills
- Books and other school supplies
- Food, toiletries, and household items
- Miscellaneous school fees
There should be some money left over after expenses. If you are spending more than what you get, split your list of expenses into must-haves and nice-to-haves. Exercise restraint in your budget for the nice-to-have items, so you can balance your budget.
Split costs with roommates
Other students can be a valuable resource in your search for affordable housing throughout college. Tap your social circle for friends or acquaintances who are also looking for housing. If you can’t find them, check with the student services department for leads and pay attention to announcement boards around campus.
By recruiting other people as potential roommates, you can make more affordable a rental that would normally be out of your price point. From settling rent and bills to doing chores, every responsibility is shared, making less work for everyone involved.
Living with other people also comes with a rewarding aspect. You gain a support system away from home and broaden your social circle.
Check for part-time opportunities
A part-time job can help you get additional funds to supplement housing and living expenses. Plan another visit to student services to see if there are jobs available on campus. An on-campus job is a highly ideal setup for college students. You don’t need to travel far, and your supervisors are generally more understanding and willing to schedule work to accommodate your studies.
If there are no longer any vacant jobs on campus, try your luck with establishments who welcome applications from college students. These companies usually have a schedule that complements college life.
Looking for an apartment for rent in North Carolina? Let us, Sundance Property Management, help you find an apartment near your campus. Call us at 513.489.3363 or send an email at info(at)sdpmi(dotted)com for a seamless experience, from the search to the move.