Dorm glamour at Ritz prices

The high cost of University housing is forcing students to live elsewhere.

The University community is well aware of complaints surrounding high tuition. Complaints of the high and growing price tag of living in the residence halls often get overshadowed.

Students who reside in all residence halls, excluding Middlebrook, pay the same price for a typical double occupancy room. This year, the rate has been set at $1,943 per semester or about $480 figured per month. The price is up 1 percent from the fall and spring rates for the 2004-2005 academic year.

The high price comes with benefits and downsides. New students are placed in an environment with other new students, an arrangement that is perfect for meeting friends they’ll often carry throughout their college careers. The downsides of residence hall life include the chance of getting a not-so-compatible roommate, shared bathrooms and a required meal plan.

Meal plans offered to resident hall students by University Dining Services range in price from $1,293 to $1,679 per semester. This is up by just more than 1 percent from last year. Students don’t have the option of paying meal-to-meal and unused meals each week are not carried over to the following weeks. Many students end up paying for more meals than they eat.

Most students choose to move out of the residence halls after their first year. Many look for rental units in apartments and houses near campus. Although these options are often pricey as well, they provide a choice to students. There are affordable options everywhere, and most look even more affordable next to the rate of residence hall living. Food costs can be much lower than the price of a meal plan.

The spring semester has just begun and many students will soon start thinking about fall. There are a lot of decisions to make: where to live, what classes to take, declaring a major or minor, or graduation. It is important to recognize the high cost of living in the residence halls, the trend of increasing on-campus housing rates and the other, often more affordable options available nearby.