Calculating the cost of living on campus

Holly Shively and Holly Shively

Many students complain about the price of on campus housing and meal plan, but few actually do the math to find out just how much more they are paying each semester.

Let me spell it out for you. Kreischer, Harshman, Kohl, and Mcdonald Halls are tied at the cheapest on-campus housing options at $2660. Given that each semester is roughly four months, the monthly cost of the cheapest on-campus housing is $665. That is more expensive than most one bedroom apartments off campus. Not to mention, you have to pay extra to stay on campus over breaks.

Even more extensively, Falcon’s Pointe apartments, which advertise as “luxury,” cost $325 a month, roughly half the price of even the cheapest on-campus housing. Not to mention there are much cheaper off-campus options than Falcon’s Pointe and more expensive on-campus options than those previously listed.

Falcon’s Point, the Edge, and many other apartment options offer tenants their own bedrooms, bathrooms (or a shared bathroom amongst two or three roommates), a living room, a kitchen and very close parking. Some even offer laundry within each apartment, and there is no hassle of checking in when you come home later than 11:30 p.m.

In dorms, very few have living rooms and bathrooms, and those dorms that do cost extra because of it. Keeping to the basics in the $2660 cost, there is a small bedroom shared between two people (unless you want to pay extra), community bathrooms down the hall, no common room for roommates to share besides their own bedroom, and access to a kitchen only outside of the room, often on a different floor, which is shared with every other student in the hall.

So why are we paying so much for housing that is far less luxurious than cheaper options? Yes, I understand that the convenience of living on campus raises the value, and all utilities are included in the cost of housing; however, utilities do not make off-campus rent over twice as much.

More prominent than the high cost of living is the lack of preparation for off campus living. By including utilities in the cost of housing and not separately, students are not held accountable for the electric, heat, and water they use. Living on campus is supposed to be a step to help students adjust to living alone before moving off campus; however, it really takes you one step backwards. At home, my parents held me responsible for cooking, cleaning, and punished me for leaving lights and fans on when I wasn’t using them. These are all important skills and qualities I will need when living off campus, but living on campus almost reverses these skills with the lack of accountability.

Paying extra to live in a suite-style dorm with my learning community, I have a bathroom and common area that I share with five other girls. We are also in control of the temperature in our room. I could theoretically leave my lights, shower, and air conditioning on 24 hours a day without being penalized, which creates terrible habits that if continued when living off campus will be very costly.

Not only are there bad habits in utilities, but meal plan as well. I have problems spending all of the smallest retail bronze meal plan of $1592. People who use all of their meal plan in the first half of the semester may think I’m crazy, but I assure you that I am not alone in being unable to spend the entire amount.

Yes, the Falcon dollars roll over to the next semester, but if I can’t use them all first semester, I won’t be able to spend all $1592 plus the leftovers in the second semester. So, I will lose the Falcon dollars—which means I lose the equal cash value of those Falcon dollars that I spent when purchasing the required meal plan.

To avoid losing my hard-earned money at the end of the school year, I’ve developed habits of buying Starbucks almost every day, even though I had never been to a Starbucks before college. It’s also easy to fall into the bad habit of buying large quantities of foods that I am unsure if I will like, then wasting them when I realize I don’t like them because I don’t care about how much money I spend.

I spend very little money at off-campus grocery stores and eating out because I know that I need to spend the money on campus, so it’s not a matter of me not using my Falcon Dollars because I’m spending elsewhere. I only buy items off campus that I know I can’t purchase on campus because I try to keep a relatively healthy diet, and the healthier options on campus are very limited.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t just radiate hate for BGSU. I love this school and can’t imagine having a better college experience than the one I’ve been offered here. This University is extremely helpful and supportive in preparing me for my career through classes, campus media and internship requirements, and I am endlessly thankful for the scholarship and financial aid I receive from the University and affiliates.

However, I cannot hide my disgust for the housing and meal plan system enacted. I understand the meal plan requirement, but there needs to be a smaller meal plan for those of us raised not to waste our money and more accountability held to keep prices fair for students living on campus.