Chart: The Most Expensive College Dorms in Each State
Elsewhere we’ve detailed the full-cost breakdown students face when going to college. The big lesson was to not ignore the fact that we must also consider the financial impact of room, board, books, and transportation when making plans. After I presented that chart I was tempted to provide you with a series of tips on how to save money on such things. But I realized to do so at this point in this blog’s lifespan would send the wrong message.
This chart unwittingly proves this point. Here we have an infographic and state-by-state breakdown compiled by ecollegefinder.org of the most expensive dorms in each state (note, however, this chart and figures refer to room and food, meaning the combined cost of dorms and meal plans).
While fun and informative, this chart serves as a great object lesson to not get too mired down in dealing with such expenses. Yes, we need to consider them when pre-planning our annual allocations of resources. But…
- To worry or strategize about room and board expenses before we’ve done everything in our power to address tuition costs would be penny wise and pound foolish. Yes, dorms and meals are expensive. The average room and board for public schools runs $9498 per year according to pundit Adam Zoll. And some schools are more expensive, with the highest priced campus living arrangement on this list, the New York School of Interior Design, costing $21,000. Just over double the average. So making some key selection choices can save you a few thousand dollars a year. But consider the much broader ranges in tuition: the lowest priced schools cost absolutely nothing (details to come), the average runs $8655/$29,056 public/private, and admission to the most expensive college in the country runs a whopping $57,556. Obviously, given this broad flexibility students need to consider the implications of tuition loooong before they work to whittle down college’s relatively cheap and consistent auxiliary costs.
- Similarly, you must consider that tuition is a want, while room and board are needs. In other words, if you spend $15,000 on tuition that’s technically $15,000 more than you must spend to survive. If you spend $15,000 on room and board we have to factor out the expenses you would have spent on this anyway to determine the college premium on these expenses. Whether or not you go to college you will need to spend something on housing and groceries, and often times that something looks eerily similar to what your college might charge. For instance, if we again work with the $9498 figure we’ve already used, that breaks down to $1,187 per month based on a 32 week school year. That’s not much higher than the housing, utilities, and food costs of most single working adults I know.
- To no one’s surprise the most expensive college room and board costs can be found in the most expensive regions of the country. Is anyone shocked that a college in New York City heads the list or that the highest priced public school dorms are in Berkeley, CA? Considering the location, even though these schools are more expensive than most they may not outpace the costs other locals there pay for their goods.
- Note likewise the dearth of state schools on this list. Hardly a surprise. Go to a private school, expect to pay more in every single way.
- Further, while the easiest way to save money on dorms is to not live in one you must consider the non-monetary costs associated with off-campus housing. Students who start college off-campus tend to eventually drop out at higher rates than students who got their start in a dorm. Likewise, students living in dorms tend to have better GPAs.
In summary, while you will see breakdowns like this on the costs of room and board expenses it shouldn’t get your attention near as much as tuition considerations. Start your research and attack on that front. Once you’ve got tuition under control then it probably is worth the extra cost of a dorm to start there, wherever “there” happens to be.