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Ask Dave

On Campus Living Is Cheaper

David wants to know if it's cheaper to live off campus or on campus. Dave says it's always cheaper to live on campus.

QUESTION: David on Twitter wants to know if it’s cheaper to live off campus or on campus. Dave says it’s always cheaper to live on campus.

ANSWER: On campus with a meal plan. I didn’t even hesitate. Did you hear that? No one lives off campus and cooks, restaurant breath. Seriously. I mean, happy hour. Come on. Who are you fooling here, beer pong guy? Really.

The truth is that it is more expensive to live off campus, and you have to be able to afford to do that. On campus, dorm. I know what the dorms look like. My son lived in one last year. They look like a prison cell. It’s concrete block and steel so that young 19-year-olds with no brains can’t tear it up. It’s institutional housing. That’s what you call it. That’s what happens when the government furnishes you things. I wanted him to go ahead and live that way at least for one year of his life so he would understand what prison looked like or what government housing would look like if he doesn’t take care of himself in either way. It’s kind of a little bit of life lesson there. He did that, the girls did that. They lived in the dorm for the first year even though we certainly could’ve afforded for them to live off campus.

Overall, living on campus with the meal plan is by far cheaper because truthfully, you’re not even paying for what you’re getting. That is also subsidized. In-state tuition is subsidized by your state. You cannot go to a college that’s comparable for that kind of money that’s private and them make a profit on it or at least break even on you. The state subsidizes in-state tuition. It’s an expense of the state, and the same is true of the housing. You really couldn’t get housing like that any other way anyway. On campus, with the meal plan, and get your textbooks on eBay. Even if it’s one edition too old, you’re not really going to miss much on that new edition. You can buy a $300 textbook for $13 or something. Be looking at and thinking about your textbooks that way. There is no point in paying thousands of dollars for textbooks. There are very few college courses in today’s world that the brand-new edition of the textbook is essential for you to get a 4.0. It has more to do with you actually going to class while you’re in college to get the 4.0.