University bound: Residence or off-campus?

By MoneySense | July 30, 2015 | Last updated on July 30, 2015
1 min read

If you have kids attending university, one of the key decisions is whether they should live on or off campus. Here are some pros and cons.

On-campus pros:

  • All-inclusive; students don’t have to worry about paying for utilities every month
  • Closer to classes and other amenities, nixing commuting costs
  • Mandatory meal plans mean no extensive grocery shopping and can save time
  • At most universities, items purchased through the meal plan are tax-exempt
  • Rollover meal plans that remain valid even if the student moves off-campus can be used later
  • Furnished with the basics, like a bed and desk

On-campus cons:

  • Residence plans are usually quite rigid; students don’t have the flexibility to be frugal on campus
  • Meal plan cost may exceed what a student would normally spend on food
  • Mandatory meal plans are not always transferable or refundable; money left over at the end of the school year is lost
  • Living spaces are often cramped