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Is debt worth it to board?

CheshireCCheshireC Posts: 2Registered Users Harvard Champion
So I'm attending a state university's Honors college and my parents have agreed to cover full tuition for 4 years of undergrad (whoo!) I'm on my own essentially for books, etc. (I have three younger siblings one after the other right after me, so they can only give so much.) Here's the thing. Ideally I'd like to live on campus for various familial reasons. The padre thinks it's a good idea to try for at least the first semester... but I'd have to take out a loan. Room & board is $9243 for full year... that's a pretty big loan and I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with that much debt. I was not approved for any financial aid & the review we requested for the FA doesn't appear to be going as planned.

I could always live at home and commute - but I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that, either. The madre is pushing this option. I'd come out with no debt from room and board, but I'd be living in the house for at least another semester, probably another year to two years till I could find some roommates and save up to get an apartment nearbye. Aside from personal reasons for wanting to leave I've heard horror stories from friends about living at home for freshman year and then having an excruciating time connecting with people. I don't want college to be a repeat of high school. I've always wanted to get out of state for undergrad and that turned out to be financially ridiculous, so I'd at least like to get out of the house... but if it's not worth taking on the financial debt, I won't.

I am getting a job (hopefully full-time this summer & part-time during the rest of the year) but I really don't expect to earn more than minimum wage ($7.25 an hour in my state), so I don't think I can pay off much more than books, car bills, and putting a bit away toward next year.

Full disclosure: I've not declared yet but at this moment am leaning toward majoring in Psychology, and that means grad school - and I mean PhD, not Master's. That definitely contributes to my wanting to keep the burden as low as possible, but if the payoff is worth it, I'm willing to live on-campus.

Preferably from people who have graduated from undergrad in recent years: from your experience, is it worth it to room at the college or is it a better bet to get out debt-free (or nearly so)? I realize this is an opinion question, but I'd appreciate getting as many as possible.
Post edited by CheshireC on

Replies to: Is debt worth it to board?

  • fluteloopfluteloop Posts: 14Registered Users College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Live at home at least the first year. No reason to rack up the debt.
  • beth's mombeth's mom Posts: 58Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    I think there are definite advantages to living on campus, however, I don't think I'd go into debt to the tune of over $30,000 for it. I would suggest living at home but spending as much time as possible on campus. Do your studying on campus, join student organizations and try to stay as connected as possible to campus life. I spent a year living at home when I was in college, and by meeting and hanging out with kids who were living on campus I was able to have an active social life there. Commuting isn't ideal, but I'd prefer it to being saddled with large (and unnecessary) student loans.

    Also, keep in mind that on your own, you can't even borrow $9,000. The Stafford loan is $5500 freshman year. You'd need a co-signer to get more than that.
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Posts: 24Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    What kind of transportation do you have available? Commuting isn't a bad option unless getting to/from school is problematic. Will you be able to get back to campus for night things? Will you be arriving hours before your classes because that's when you can be dropped off?

    If transportation is not an issue, live at home the first semester and see how it goes. As noted, you can't borrow close to 10K, but you can borrow 5500. Maybe if home doesn't work out, you could live on second semester. Although we're a pretty debt-averse group, staying at the stafford maximums is generally considered an acceptable level of debt.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 216Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    You could use your home as a late night hotel. You could buy a small meal plan and eat with your classmates, hang around campus all day, join clubs, study in the library, participate in study groups, and then go home just to sleep.
  • crazymomstercrazymomster Posts: 13Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    Does admission to the honors college require you to live on campus? Sometimes that is the situation.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 100Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    In my area, many students commute to college. All of the students I know did just fine, and never have felt that they missed out on anything.
  • brendank21brendank21 Posts: 7Registered Users College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Here are a couple things you need to take into consideration:

    How far are you from the school? Some people who live too close to home may come home too often. The campus gets boring or it is primarily a suitcase school. If you think this is you than room and board is a waste.

    Can you realistically commute to the school?

    Are you the type of person who will join activities?

    Campuses have a lot to do, you just have to be willing to look.
  • CheshireCCheshireC Posts: 2Registered Users Harvard Champion
    edited May 2013
    @ordinarylives: I have a car and will have my license shortly, so that won't be an issue.

    @crazymomster: They certainly didn't mention anything about it and I know alumni who commuted their first year, so I assume not. It certainly seems to be the most popular choice by far, though.

    @brendank21: I'm no more than twenty miles away and I do plan to join activities...
  • arabrabarabrab Posts: 9Registered Users
    edited May 2013
    First, most colleges will not give you a dorm contract for only fall semester. You might be able to get a dorm contract just for spring semester if space is available.

    There are some keys to make living at home work for freshmen:
    1. Get involved. You don't have the "natural" environment of the dorm, so you'll need to make sure you find opportunities to be with other college students and make friends.
    2. Try for a schedule that makes it most likely that you will go to every class. Students that end up with a one class on a day of the week where they don't have any others seem to find lots of ways to miss the class. Being off campus makes it even easier.
    3. Budget in some cafeteria dinners/lunches and eat with friends in the honors college regularly.
    4. See if joining a fraternity might be right for you.
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