What Is Room and Board for College?
When students think about the total cost of attending college, they sometimes forget that college is not one lump sum. Instead, there are different costs that make up the total cost of attendance. Tuition, room, and board are the three primary costs that students will come across when paying for college.
You might be wondering, what exactly am I paying for?
This is a good question, and important to understand. Tuition is pretty straightforward and refers to the cost of instruction. This can range from $6,000 to $10,000 per year on the low-end for some in-state public universities to roughly $60,000 per year on the high end for some private universities.
Room and board is a bit more misunderstood, so in this post we will discuss what room and board entails, what it might cost you, and how you pay for it. We will also discuss how you can save money on both your room fees and your board fees.
What exactly is room and board?
If you have ever looked up what a college costs, you probably see a line item for “room and board.” But what exactly are you paying for as part of this fee?
Very simply, room and board refers to lodging and meals. After all, when you are attending college as a boarder, you will need a place to stay and food to eat.
For many students, room will include a campus dorm room. This is usually equipped with a bed and a desk. Students may have the option of having their own room, but will generally have a roommate (or two).
Board generally entails dining through a “meal plan.” Students can select a meal plan that gives them access to various on-campus dining options.
What does room and board cost?
According to data from Edmit, the cost of room and board will vary from college to college, but the average cost of room and board was $9,901 for public institutions and $10,559 for private institutions.
How will I pay for room and board?
Can I save money on room and board?
Yes, you can! This is one of the prime areas where students can save serious amounts of money. Here are a few ways you save money (and even get your room fee completely covered):
Always have a roommate
Generally, colleges charge more money for students who choose to live in a single room. Having a roommate (or two) on campus helps save you some money.
Get a smaller meal plan
Colleges give students the option to choose among several different meal plans. For example, an unlimited meal plan is going to be more expensive than a meal plan that gives you two meals a day. Think about your habits and pick a plan that makes sense.
Live at home
Commuting to college can be a great way to save money on meals and lodging. This may not be for everyone and not all colleges will offer this option, but you can save serious money. Remember, you may also be able to live at home for a year or two before moving on campus or getting your own place.
Get a job as a Resident Advisor
Working as a Resident Advisor or RA can be a great move for students who want to save money! At some colleges, RAs receive free or discounted housing, which can be a great way to save money. Some colleges may also offer an additional paid stipend for students who serve as RAs.
However, this varies from college to college and you will need to check-in with your college for details on how RAs are compensated.
Choose an alternative living option
Some colleges may offer alternative living options for students including cooperative housing. These options allow student to live on-campus, but generally allow the residents of the co-op or house to be responsible for cooking their own meals. Oberlin College in Ohio is one example of a college the offers this option to students.