14 September 2015 15:00:34 IST

Most colleges miscalculate off-campus housing costs

Study finds that in some places, living in an apartment with roommate is cheaper

University of California in Los Angeles, Berkeley and Santa Barbara, underestimated off-campus housing costs by up to 53 per cent, while University of Texas, University of Florida, University of Washington and University of Pennsylvania, overestimated costs, according to a study by Trulia, a US-based online real-estate marketplace.

The study revealed the true cost of campus housing at 20 private and public universities across the country. It compared each school’s estimated off-campus housing cost, as listed on their website, with the median rent for the ZIP codes around each school’s campus. The study also calculated whether it was cheaper to live on campus in a student dormitory or off campus in a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate for nine months.

Homework on housing costs

Many schools often underestimate the cost of off-campus housing, sometimes by thousands of dollars for the school term. The University of Texas in Austin estimates the cost of off-campus housing to be 59 per cent more expensive than the actual rent for living off campus in a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate for nine months. Meanwhile, the University of California in Santa Barbara estimates the cost of off-campus housing to be 53 per cent cheaper, writes Mark Uh, a data scientist at Trulia.

Apartment living cheaper

The study revealed that renting places off campus is often cheaper than living on campus. In 15 of the 20 schools examined, on-campus housing was more expensive than if a student shared a two-bedroom apartment off campus with a roommate for nine months. For instance, at the University of Chicago, room and board runs $14,772 while an off-campus apartment can cost $5,085.

Not always

On the other hand, in some of the highest-priced rental markets, living on-campus is often cheaper. A Columbia student would pay more than $17,000 for nine months in a shared two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Meanwhile, on-campus housing ranges from $7,418 to $9,470. The savings also adds up at Stanford, which is in the heart of Silicon Valley, where living on campus would run less than $9,000, versus $16,000 off campus.

Read the whole report here .