As college students across America prepare for another academic year, many are grappling with a financial burden that extends beyond tuition fees and textbooks. The cost of housing, particularly in college towns, has become a significant concern. Amid a national housing crisis that hasn’t been this severe in four decades, students are finding themselves in a precarious situation. The question arises: Can you really afford to go to college in America’s most expensive towns?
A Tale of Two Extremes
According to a comprehensive study by Inmyarea.com, the disparity in housing costs among college towns is staggering. On one end of the spectrum is Morehead, Kentucky, home to Morehead State University. Here, students can find off-campus housing for as low as $250 per month per person. This rural college town in the southern region offers an affordable living situation that many students can only dream of.
Contrast this with California, which hosts 16 of the nation’s 25 most expensive college towns. Santa Clara County alone is home to the top three most expensive cities, where rents can soar to an eye-watering $1,800 per month per person. To live comfortably in these areas, a student would need an annual income of approximately $72,000—nearly the median household income in the United States.
Ohio’s Own Microcosm: Delaware vs. Youngstown
Ohio serves as a microcosm of this national trend. Delaware, Ohio, home to Ohio Wesleyan University, has been identified as the most expensive college town in the state. Local students face an average rent of $816 per month per bedroom. On the flip side, Youngstown State Penguins have it relatively easy. Students in Youngstown enjoy an average rent of just $280 per month per bedroom. Other affordable options in Ohio include Wooster, Ashland, Steubenville, Salem, East Liverpool, and Alliance.
Financial Literacy and Housing Choices
The study’s findings underscore the importance of financial literacy and planning when choosing a college. While universities often provide housing for first-year students, upperclassmen are usually left to fend for themselves in the off-campus housing market. The average monthly housing price in American college towns stands at $735 per bedroom, making it essential for students and parents to factor in these costs when selecting a school.
The study also tracked college towns with four-year schools, providing a valuable resource for those looking to make an informed decision. With the national rent spike and housing shortage, it’s crucial for students to consider not just the cost of tuition but also the cost of living in their chosen college town.
A Call to Action for Students and Parents
As the nation grapples with a housing crisis, the impact on college students cannot be ignored. The data reveals a stark divide between affordable and expensive college towns, emphasizing the need for students and parents to conduct thorough research before making a decision. While some towns offer a reprieve from the financial strain, others demand incomes that are unrealistic for most students.
In a time when education is already a significant investment, the added burden of exorbitant housing costs can be overwhelming. Therefore, it’s not just about choosing the right college; it’s also about choosing the right college town.