Eating cookies before dinner, staying up past midnight, spending your money on whatever you want—with no one to tell you you can’t, that’s college living right?
To an anticipating junior in high school, eagerly applying to universities, that may sound blissful, but there are a lot of decisions that come after that acceptance letter.
On-campus living versus off-campus living: what can this decision mean for a college student?
Plattsburgh State requires freshmen and sophomores to live on campus. After that, it’s their choice. But what comes with this decision?
Students new to the “off-campus life” tend to spend most of their grocery budget halfway through the semester, leaving them begging those “on-campus friends” for meal swipes at the dining halls, according to the Daily Free Press news outlet.
Senior public relations major Jacob Tapio said he definitely spends most of his money on food.
“Budgeting money has always been quite the lesson,” Tapio said. “It is definitely something I stress about, but it’s a learning process for sure.”
He admitted that he doesn’t really miss living on campus at all.
“The food was OK on campus. I don’t like how healthy options are so expensive, and there were less healthy options, but Clinton Dining Hall has improved since I was freshman,” Tapio said.
For some colleges, the average cost to live on campus is $1,100 per month, while living off campus can average around $500 per month. The cheaper face value of the rent to live off campus excites most students, but they don’t consider the extra costs, according to The Daily Free Press.
The blog, “Go College” compiled a list of tips for students excited to move off campus, but maybe not sure how to budget their money quite yet. The first tip is to make a realistic, weekly budget, and stick to it.
“Write down the food staples, things that you need each week. Then write down any other realistic expenses you may have (gas, entertainment, etc.) and add it all up. If you go over one week, cut back on something the next week,” according to the blog.
PSUC sophomore special education major Arianna Tomeo hasn’t moved off campus yet, and said her on-campus meal plan has helped her save money.
“Being in college, I have had less opportunities to spend money due to my meal plan and being on campus a majority of the time,” Tomeo said.
Another tip for the blog, If you have a meal plan, use it.
“Don’t let the dining dollars go to waste, but also don’t buy more than you need. Buy a sandwich, sit down and eat it. If you’re still hungry, go back and get more,” according the blog.
Tomeo said she will still purchase a smaller meal plan when she moves off campus.
“I like studying in the library,” Tomeo said, “and it will be convenient to eat at the locations near the library instead of going back home.”
Living off campus for the first time is a huge transition for many students when it comes to learning to budget money. Finding a fine line between enjoying yourself, and spending too much on leisure can be difficult for some. Because of that, the blog said to Avoid wdining out as much as possible.
“If you have food in the fridge, there’s no need to go to a restaurant, it can seriously compromise your food budget. Keep dining out to special occasions (birthdays),” according to the blog.
PSUC junior and business administration major Madelyn Villanueva enjoys cooking, so dining out too much, or finding herself at a drive-thru has not been an issue for her.
“I’m used to cooking for my big family, so I still cook a lot, so that I always have leftovers which are great for the next few days,” Villanueva said.
Not only has Villanueva made a habit of cooking at home, she also feels that living off campus has helped her budget her money.
“I do think my money is budgeted more off campus. I actually have a certain amount of money saved only for food, rent and going out,” Villanueva said. “Before, I would just spend recklessly.”
Her only complaint about moving off campus is not seeing her friends regularly anymore, but she doesn’t miss the “few options” regarding the on-campus food, and the fact that the food “barely had flavor.”
Another tip is to go grocery shopping when you aren’t hungry.
“Have you ever been so hungry while grocery shopping, that all of the sudden Oreos, Doritos, and the family-sized tub of Nutella magically appear in your cart? If you’re hungry eat a snack before, then your mind won’t play tricks on you when deciding what you need,” according to fastweb.com
Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts fans, this last tip may ruin your day. If you’re a coffee drinker, make your own coffee. Try to make those double-shot caramel macchiato lattes a treat that you only reward yourself occasionally. The costs can seriously add up, so if you have a coffee pot at home, use it,” according to fastweb.com.
Deciding to move off campus comes with responsibility. So next time a bunch of non-nutritional snacks magically appear in your shopping cart, ask yourself, do I really need these.
Email Ashleigh Choppa at firstname.lastname@example.org