Regarding “The Country Club-ization of College Living”


A recent article in Marketplace discussed the “country club-ization” of higher education living. The article showed that students are living off-campus in expensive housing units that come stocked with standards that most families would love in their homes or communities.

Near the University of Missouri-Columbia, students can get furnished two-bedroom units with flat-screen TVs, granite countertops, two bathrooms, parking, pools, fitness and cardio centers, and a private shuttle to campus. The price? Per the article, $815 per bedroom.

College Parents of America has noticed the trend of nicer, ‘fully-loaded’ college living, on & off-campus housing for college students. In fact, our recent cartoon made note of that same trend [view more cartoons and helpful info on our facebook page].

But at $815 per bedroom, how does that unit cost compare to a dorm room? The University of Missouri-Columbia offers multiple housing options. However, if one wants something comparable, a one person suite-style unit that’s open over breaks would seem to fit the bill.

For comparison, it is most helpful to view them over both 9-month and 12-month period.

  • 9 months at Brookside with parking and furnishings ($815/month) = $7,335
  • 12 months at Brookside with parking and furnishings ($815/month) = $9,780
  • 9 months on Campus + $168/year campus garage parking pass: $8,703/year

The numbers indicate, depending on where a student lives during the summer and the length of the desired off-campus contract, for those students who insist on a private room and bathroom, it’s actually possible to save a bit of money living off-campus. Of course, by choosing a more traditional dormitory unit, a family with a student at Mizzou could save some money: double units with community bathrooms that are open during breaks run just less than $6,000 per 9 months.

For those parents who find these prices steep, it’s because they are; all of the above costs exceed the national average housing budgets for students and families.

Using the percentage of housing allowance and utility costs reported (34%) in the College Board prevailing 9-month and 12-month college budgets, one would expect a student to budget $7,924 for 12 months of housing or $5,944 for 9 months. A student on a tighter budget should expect to spend $5,310 for 12 months of housing ($3,984 for 9 months).

However, given that the last decade has seen room and board charges at public four-year institutions rise at, according to the College Board, 2.6% beyond inflation every year (1.9% annually above inflation for private four-year schools), it is possible that the gap between moderate budgets and ‘fully-loaded’ college living costs narrows over the coming years. Then again, this rise in costs may also help explain why a record-high percentage of students are living at home or with relatives (57% according to Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College 2013).