Passing a test, finishing a paper on time and figuring out which party to go to are all major concerns for many college students, but with tuition increases and a struggling economy, SUNY New Paltz students are finding that just keeping money in their pockets is a main concern. One way they try to save is by bypassing the cost of living in a dorm, and moving into off-campus housing.
The cost of living in a dorm per semester has risen from $2,800 to $3,182 at SUNY New Paltz since the Fall of 2008, according to the school’s website. Along with tuition, meal plan and other fees such as technology fee, health services fee and an athletic fee, the current cost for a full-time undergraduate New York State resident living in a dorm can cost anywhere between $7,000 and $8,000 per semester, or even more depending on other optional charges.
Daniella Charzuk, a third-year sociology major with a concentration in human services, lived on-campus for her first two years at New Paltz, but decided to move off campus this year after finding an apartment that was close to campus and in her budget.
“My goal in living off-campus is to save money by spending frugally,” she said.
According to Charzuk, her living expenses including rent, utilities and food adds up to nearly $600 per month so far. With tuition included, she will spend just under $5,000 a semester if she keeps up with her current financial plan. Charzuk is saving over $2,000 a semester by living off campus.
In addition to the financial benefit, Charzuk prefers living off campus because she enjoys feeling like an adult and the freedom it provides.
“On campus, I could never find a place that I could be totally alone,” she said. “I felt suffocated because of rules and RA restrictions and also because we all lived so close together.”
While living off-campus is the better choice for some students, others have found alternative ways to save.
Cindy Ip, a second-year elementary education major with a concentration in spanish, considered living off-campus when her friends brought up the idea. But after fully thinking it through, she decided that living on-campus was the best option, so she became a Resident Assistant in Deyo Hall to save money.
Ip believes that living on-campus is the ultimate college experience. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to live on-campus because it’s a new, enriching experience and it allows me to step out of my comfort zone,” she said.
Ip believes living in a dorm provides the most convenience, but Kaitlyn Hastings, a fourth-year communication disorders major, convenience comes from living in a house with all of her friends.
“I love living with my best friends and having our own kitchen with our own rules and having the independence that comes with it,” she said.
Hastings, who spends about $750 monthly has been living off-campus since the beginning of the fall 2009 semester, and believes that the only downside is the extra responsibility she takes on by having to pay her own bills and cook her own food.
For Hastings and Charzuk, living off-campus provided comfort and helped their finances. They both enjoy the atmosphere of off-campus housing and do not regret the decision to move out of the dorms.
“I think living in a house will prepare me for the future,” Hasting said. “I love living off-campus and would rather claw my eyes out than move back to campus and live in a dorm.”