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Living off campus cheaper alternative

After students fulfill their required two years of on-campus residency, many like Amber Herron and Natalie Brown weigh the costs and benefits of campus life— but mostly the costs.

Both Herron and Brown, sophomores, went to the Housing Fair on Nov. 13 to look for off-campus housing.

They agree that living on campus gets pricey, which is why they’ve begun looking for cheaper options off campus.

Herron lives at Falcon Pointe this year, located off Klotz Road behind The Enclave. She resided at McDonald Hall her freshman year before moving off campus this year to save money.

While Herron uses her credit card more for food and other items, she’s still noticed a significant difference in price since moving off campus.

“I think I’m spending more with my credit card, but it’s still definitely cheaper,” she said.

Brown lives at Falcon Heights, which costs $3,095 a semester for a double and $3,620 for a single, making it the most expensive residence hall on campus.

“It’s too much,” she said. “I think there are a lot of other options.”

The BG News compiled all the costs listed on Residence Life’s website and averaged them out.

Based on these numbers, this makes the average cost to live on campus $5,896 a year, which is approximately $655 a month for nine months.

The average cost of a double is $5,674 [$630 a month] and a single is $6,706 [$745 a month].

Falcon Heights and Centennial Hall have the highest room rate, both costing $6,190 for a double and $7,240 for a single for the academic year.

Harshman, Kreischer, Kohl and McDonald Halls had the lowest rates, each costing $5,160 for a double and $6,200 for a single for the academic year.

Rates are based on the quality of the room, the number of residents living there and the age of the building, said Sarah Waters, director of Residence Life.

As an auxiliary to the University, Residence Life receives no state money and has to raise its funds alone, Waters said.

The majority of that revenue comes from the rates students pay to live on campus. That money goes into a large pot to be allocated back out from Residence Life funds to each individual residence hall.

Waters is aware of the financial burden some students have, which is why she and her office try to keep costs down as best they can, she said.

“We know it’s a large investment,” Waters said. “Our office is very serious about being good stewards of money.”

The BG News compared on-campus residences to three similar off-campus residences. These rates do not include utilities, while residence hall rates do.

At Mecca properties, the average cost for one person living in a two-bedroom apartment is approximately $300 a month, based on rates on its website. Within nine months, residents will pay $2,700 in rent.

At Newlove Realty, a 12-month lease for a one bedroom apartment starting in August 2014 ranges between $305 and $365 per month.

The rent at Copper Beech town homes is as low as $275 per month for a four bedroom and as much as $459 for a two bedroom. Copper Beech also provides residents with cable and internet.

“I’ve been told it’s cheaper to live off campus,” said Kyle Young, a leasing agent at Copper Beech. “We try to keep it affordable for students.”

Residence Life has an operating budget this year of more than $25 million.

The $25 million budget goes to things such as utilities, ITS bandwidth, furniture replacement, renovations and programming for residents.

Fifteen percent, or nearly $4 million of the budget, goes to utilities, according to a budget report provided by Residence Life.

Debt comprises 14.5 percent [$3,745,421] of the budget. A portion of that includes the $10 million McDonald Hall renovation that was completed at the beginning of the semester. Other debt is from projects like the roof on Founders Hall and the elevators in Offenhauer Halls.

University overhead receives 13 percent of the budget [$3,347,375]. This is a general service charge that goes to general fees.

All auxiliaries have to make a contribution to general fees, Waters said. This year, the overhead fee for Residence Life was reduced by $350,000, she said.

Residence Life also funds a portion of Greek Life, as $326,000 of its budget supports programming in the Office of the Dean of Students.

While Residence Life must raise its own revenue, “It also helps the greater University as well,” Waters said.

“It’s about long-term planning,” she said, “so we can continue to invest in the environment for students to improve that out-of-class environment.”

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