Living expenses emerge as top obstacle in college affordability

Dive Brief:

  • Room and board expenses have increased dramatically for aspiring college students, but a new study from the Urban Institute provides a detailed view of how much prices have risen and what it means to the bottom line for students and families seeking to balance these costs with tuition expenses. 
  • While on-campus living costs remained relatively stable between 1964 and 1982, they have exploded in the last 30 years, nearly doubling from around $4,800 annually to just over $10,000 for public and private four-year schools.  
  • These rates, when combined with an average $1,200 increase for boarding fees since 1990 and tuition increases, show how difficult college attendance becomes even with students who receive annual aid packages averaging more than $7,000 in support for institutional costs. 

Dive Insight:

The growing cost crisis of college education is being addressed at many campuses with the emergence of distance education and articulation agreements with community colleges. But as schools find ways to earn more in tuition revenue without students being physically present on campus, there is still the challenge of paying for utilities, debt servicing and personnel to maintain facilities for students who remain on campus. 

Colleges which are facing financial straits should consider redevelopment plans to raze underused and outdated residential facilities, leasing agreements with private housing managers, or to design mixed-use residential and commercial spacing for start-up businesses and vendors looking to market to college students or recent grads. College campuses could easily become the new business parks of the 21st century, if leaders are willing to embrace new ideas about revenue creation. 

Filed Under: Higher Ed
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