By Dianne McGinness ’13
A college student’s decision to live on or off-campus can make or break the bank in the U.S. economy today.
Many college students choose to live off-campus and forego the amenities that come with living in a residence hall.
An estimated 3,400 students compose the population of Pacific Lutheran University. Among PLU’s student population, about 45% live on-campus including both undergraduate and graduate students*.
PLU students are required to live on-campus their first two years or they have the option of living at home.
Residential Operations Coordinator Dana McDonald said she thinks the two year residency requirement benefits PLU students.
“You get to build relationships and get to know your resources,” McDonald said. “Then you get to go out and use them.”
Students, who are 20 years of age or have junior standing have the option of continuing to live in one of the traditional residence halls (Foss, Harstad, Hinderlie, Hong, Ordal, Pflueger, Stuen or Tingelstad) or can choose Kriedler Hall, South Hall, or living off-campus entirely.
“A majority of our students are undergrads,” McDonald said. “There are no housing responsibilities when you live on-campus. Cable and internet are included. If you need something fixed, you can call maintenance and get it fixed.”
When students live off-campus, instead of being under control of the university, they communicate with a landlord when problems arise.
“Living on-campus tends to be a bit more expensive,” McDonald said. “There are certain amenities involved. For example you never have to pay for water.”
It costs students $3,020 to live in South Hall during the 2011-2012 school year. A student who lives off-campus pays around $1,200 for the same amount of time**. However, students may pay extra for utilities along with the initial price of rent.
McDonald discussed the conveniences of on-campus living.
“The mail is always delivered there, the heat is always at a comfortable temperature,” McDonald said. “All your amenities are going to be functioning. You have the same safety and security that comes with living on-campus including the use of campus safety.”
South Hall resident junior Suzy Olsen was originally planning on living in a house but decided to live on-campus again instead.
“It’s close to campus and it’s just like living in an apartment. It’s nice to have a community outside of my roommates with my floor mates,” Olsen said. “We have our own lounges where people can meet as well as various community events.”
Though Olsen does live in South Hall, she opted to not have a meal plan this year.
“I love cooking for myself,” Olsen said. “It’s a nice option to have.”
Many students opt to live off-campus because the cost is less in the long run. However, by living on-campus, students are given the option of paying for housing when paying for tuition or a loan can cover the cost of student housing. Off-campus students do not have this option.
“Financially it’s cheaper,” off-campus resident junior Nataly Meyer said, “and after looking at the difference in living in South and living in a house it seemed like a cheaper choice and so far it has proved to be less expensive.”
Meyer and her housemates divide up the price of some items while paying for other items separately.
“For groceries we generally buy our own. There are some common groceries such as fruit things that would spoil faster where most of us just chip in a bit for each item,” Meyer said. “For utilities we all equally split it four ways for four housemates. Because I don’t have a car I try to chip in money each month for the people who drive me to buy groceries.”
Junior Sarah Williams also chose to live off-campus in a house this year.
“I think it’s cheaper to live off-campus but you need to evaluate how you are going to be spending your money,” Williams said.
Williams also said that it is important to be in agreement from the beginning with housemates on the way in which bills are going to be separated for both utilities and extra amenities.
“If it’s hard for you to pay a big chunk of money out of pocket every month,” Williams said, “on-campus might be a better option.”
When deciding where to live it is best to understand what all the options are before selecting one. Though living off-campus might be less expensive in the long run, it comes with the sacrifice of amenities included in on-campus residency.
*PLU Student Population from PLU Residential Operations Coordinator, Dana McDonald