Housing deposits are past due and before the end of the month students will decide where and with whom they will be living in the coming academic year. The option to live off-campus is an enticing one for many students who see the distance between their homes and classrooms as an opportunity for independence, but at Oneonta only juniors and seniors are allowed to make the move out of the dorms.
Freshmen and sophomores at SUNY Oneonta have the option to live in either double, quad, suite or apartment style housing, but cannot live off-campus unless they commute from their permanent residence. It is a common practice of many schools to keep students on-campus for the first four semesters of their education, but it is a policy that has been met with criticism from students.
Living in an off-campus apartment would provide young adults with some insight into the “real” world. Students have the chance to develop valuable skills such as dealing with landlords and housemates, managing school with cooking and cleaning, as well as balancing a budget away from the watchful eyes of RAs. The opportunity to build a solid credit score has also been mentioned in support of living off-campus.
The cost of college has dramatically increased over the years, and even students at state schools can look forward to years of paying off college loans. According to the financial page on Oneonta’s website, in-state students pay a total of $17,722 per academic year, and more than half of that bill is for room and board. Each year students pay $10,492 to live on-campus and eat food prepared at the dining halls. Many believe that off-campus living would be more cost efficient, as students who live off-campus are not obligated to the school’s dining plan. At SUNY Oneonta, dining hall plans range from $1,000 to $1,970 for those who live on campus. The USDA finds that a thrifty single person would pay up to $180 a month for food, which would equal $1,620 for nine months of school. Although the costs of food are nearly equal, off-campus students would be sure that they like the food available and those with dietary restrictions have more options. Monthly rent for an off-campus apartment is generally upwards of $3,000 per semester, although that figure could fluctuate depending on factors such as the number of residents and the landlords’ policies. Students could be looking at an extra $2,500 or so in their bank accounts if they play their cards right and find an ideal house.
Michelle Leuttger, Director of Residential Community Life here at SUNY says that although an off-campus apartment may seem to be a better bargain, there are hidden costs to be considered, including Wi-Fi, heat, laundry, garbage and lease fees. Leuttger also spoke of safety as a concern for those who live off-campus. “The safety of our students is very important to us,” Leuttger mentioned, “and we like to know that students live in places that are up-to-date with things like fire code.” Apart from a fire last spring in Matteson Hall, which had a relatively small impact on the building considering the intensity of the flames, SUNY Oneonta’s aim to protect students’ safety has been more or less successful.
On-campus leadership opportunities, such as RA and night host positions, along with the overall convenience of being walking distance from class are two more reasons to consider staying on campus for all four years.
“The main thing,” Leuttger said, “is that we want to know that our students are ready before they go off-campus. Even into junior and senior year, many students choose to stay. Having someone cook and clean for you is something you’ll miss,” laughed Luettger. “Trust me, if I could live on campus again, I would.”