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Counting the costs

Is it cheaper to live off campus?

In November of 2021, the former Bloomsburg University changed its on-campus living policy to a required two years. This sparked outrage among students of the incoming freshman class who were looking forward to only having to spend one year living the dorm life and paying for a communal bathroom and shared space with little privacy. Thomas Fletcher, the Vice President of Enrollment Management at the time of the implementation of this new policy, stated, “It’s a national model at a lot of institutions, and in the last 10 years, staying on-campus numbers support that staying on-campus for two years has retained more students the following year and students are more likely to stay in school for their third year.”

On-campus housing is viewed by many as a burden that hinders their financial freedom and overall independence. One of the main benefits of living off campus is the appearance of a cheaper housing option, but is that really the case in the town of Bloomsburg?

The cheapest living accommodation provided by Bloomsburg Campus is the classic, two-person dorm with a communal bathroom and shower shared by the floor. According to the housing rates and fees provided by the Bloomsburg Campus website, this comes to about $3,643 per person per semester. The added cost of a required meal plan must be accounted for as well, the cheapest being a block meal plan of 75 meals with $250 FLEX costing $974 per semester. All costs come to $4,617 per semester if a student were to opt for the cheapest options while living on campus.

Many of the off-campus housing options available to students do not initially include the added price of utilities such as electric, water and internet access, which will have to be footed by the tenants. Take a two-bedroom listing by Bloomsburg Student Housing by B&L Properties for instance. For a two-student occupancy, the rent would come out to $3,195 for each student per semester.

Although this site tries to lure students with free private gym memberships and tanning bed access, it looks like students will be responsible for paying the electric and water bills in addition to not having parking included nor an in-unit dishwasher, washer and dryer.

An additional $1,180 should be factored into a total semesterly cost assuming one is spending the monthly Pennsylvania state average for groceries of a college student, about $295 according to the Education Data Initiative as of August 2023, for a four-month semester. This already puts students at a semesterly total of $4,375 per student without factoring in the aforementioned utilities.

Living off campus can provide students with priceless opportunities to learn about budgeting, negotiating leases and independent living. With the policy shift affecting the housing market over the last two years, landlords in the Bloomsburg area are scrambling to fill their rental properties.

When looking for a spot to live off campus, make sure to tour all rentals in person before signing a lease

Off-campus and on-campus living costs are fairly comparable.
Graphic by Rebecca Sokolowski.

and do careful research to find the space that works best for you.

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Rebecca Sokolowski, Multimedia Journalist

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