In April, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted not to raise tuition for the upcoming school year – joining other college systems in freezing or lowering that cost. Stable tuition prices are always good news, but many students don’t realize that their living expenses will still go up.
According to the University System records, cost of living expenses in Georgia increase by an average of about 3 percent each year, which adds about $100 a semester. This is true for some of Georgia’s most prominent universities, including the University of Georgia, Georgia State, and Georgia Tech, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported.
Jennifer Lee, a policy analyst at Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, told the AJC that most people don’t realize how much room and board contributes to the overall cost of attendance. Nationwide, the average cost for room and board is $12,210 at a private, four-year college, $10,800 at a public, four-year college (both in-state and out-of-state). The average room and board at an in-state college actually outweighs the average tuition cost of $9,970.
It can be challenging for students to come up with that kind of money to spend on room and board, and it can be particularly problematic for low-income students.
Many colleges require students to live on campus for their first year of college, saying that’s the best way for students to acclimate to college life. After receiving criticism for this policy some schools started granting exceptions to low-income students.
Despite the criticism, the university system is actually looking for ways to lower living expenses for students; however, it is a difficult challenge as living expenses continue to increase with rising utility costs and inflation.
The only exception is Kennesaw State University, where living expenses are projected to decline by up to 10 percent during the next school year. These costs will go down because the housing contracts are being changed from 12 months to 10, according to the AJC.
Another component to this problem is the student loan issue. Oftentimes, when students are hard pressed to cover their living expenses and tuition fees, they turn to federal financial aid and private student loans to pick up the bill. The latter of which are fairly expensive.
Student loan debt is a growing problem in the United States so many college students are looking to cut costs wherever they can. Sixty percent of the Class of 2016 graduated with student loan debt, with an average debt of $27,975 per borrower.
Fortunately, there are strategies that students can take to lower their living expenses. And one of the biggest ways to cut down on costs is by choosing to live off campus.
The most cost-efficient option is for students to continue living with their parents and commuting to school. This can help students save money on food, laundry, and rent. And if public transportation is an option, students can also save money on gas and parking.
Of course, this won’t be feasible for everyone, and there are disadvantages to that plan. So another potential option is for students to live near campus with roommates. This can provide more access to on-campus resources without the same inflated price tag for room and board.
Author: Mike Brown
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