Apartments carry hidden costs for students

By Matt Michalek

As the spring semester begins, many students are beginning to plan where they are going to live next year. They face the choice of staying in the dorms or moving to an apartment.

The factor which influences the choices of most students is cost. Is it cheaper to live in an apartment or in the dorms?

When looking for an apartment, students try to compare the cost of room and board for the dorms to the monthly rent, expected food and expected utilities costs. Many times, students find that it is cheaper to rent an apartment.

Jack Felver, associate director of Housing, said that this often happens, but students usually overlook other hidden costs. These hidden costs are essentials such as phone, cable television, furniture and even household supplies.

“Most people do not think of all these things,” Felver said. Even appliances such as vacuum cleaners and microwaves have to be bought or acquired for an apartment, he said.

“In the residence halls, all these appliances and hidden costs are included in the room and board,” he said.

Jerry Augsburger, director of the Student Financial Aid Office, agrees that usually it is more expensive to live off campus. “Information accumulated periodically by the financial aid office indicates that it costs more to live off campus.”

He said this does not mean there are places off campus that would not be cheaper. Students who looked long and hard enough, and live frugally have found off-campus housing that was cheaper than on-campus.

Kay Berkshire, property manager of College Square Apartments, said she believes off-campus housing can be cheaper. With enough students who live sensibly it can be very economical, she said.

NIU student Jeff Butte, who lives in an apartment with three other students, said he thinks it is definitely cheaper to live off campus. By dividing the cost between four people, it turns out to be cheaper than the dorms, he said.

Chad Thompson, leasing manager for Suburban Apartments and Suburban Estates Apartments, when asked if he thought if it was cheaper to live off campus said, “Absolutely. With three people in a two bedroom apartment it is cheaper.”