The rising demand for on-campus housing along with rising costs may send more students looking cheaper alternatives off campus for the next year. According to Julie Weber, executive director of Housing and Dining, more than 2,700 students currently live on campus, and an anticipated 3,100 will apply for 2,850 on-campus spaces next fall. According to published rates by AU Housing and Dining, next year’s on-campus housing costs will increase by $380 a year for a double occupancy room.
Depending on the type of residence students choose, many will be able to save money by moving out of AU housing. The difference in cost between on-campus housing and off-campus housing depends on the type of residence. Next year AU’s on-campus double occupancy room will cost $3,675 per semester, plus at least a $1,225, 75-block meal plan, a total of about $1,225 a month. A two-bedroom apartment in Park Bethesda will cost $1,540 a month per person. An average apartment in the AU area, shared with at least one roommate, is a little over $1,000 each month with utilities, according to http://www.archstoneapartments.com. The average rent for a house of four is also slightly over $600 a month, however these rates do not include the cost of utilities. Utilities like water, heat and electricity can cost more than two hundred a month depending on the season.
Compared to other schools in the area, Georgetown University has similar housing costs to AU, but George Washington University’s housing at its cheapest costs $3,800 a semester, not including meal plans, according to the schools’ Web site.
Despite the rising costs, students cannot help but appreciate the benefits of living on campus. “I love the convenience factor…I do a lot of things on campus and it’s nice to be able to be no more than ten minutes from anything,” said Christina Wright a junior in the School of Communication.
However, some students prefer to live on campus.
Brittany Grow, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, lives in an off campus house with several other AU students.
“I think the best thing about living off campus is that you have the ability to remove yourself from the stress of classes and work that seems to be constantly present on campus,” Grow said.
Although off-campus housing provides significant added amenities, the on-campus options are not completely void.
As a resident assistant in Hughes, Wright said that Housing and Dining services at AU are exceptional although residents constantly focus on the negative aspects. AU provides many accommodations that other schools do not, including air conditioning, carpeted floors and a wall unit among other things.
“Working closely with the administration has let me, as a student and resident assistant, see all the positive things they do for us,” Christina said. “Yes, housing is expensive on campus; but look what you are paying for in a metropolitan city.”
Making the decision to move off campus is not an easy one, and requires an extensive search for a compatible house for the interested students with all the necessary amenities among many other factors including location, size and affordability.
For those students considering on-campus housing, the numbers are encouraging.
“We rank third from the top on almost everything,” Weber said. “But we do guarantee housing for all undergrads which not all schools in the area do.”
The room-draw process for on-campus housing began March 6 and will run through March 31.