When I went to college, I moved to a city roughly three hours away from my parents. I lived in the dorms my freshman year, and after that I lived with roommates in off-campus apartments. I was lucky to be able to do so—I lived in Virginia and went to an extremely affordable in-state university.
But I also didn’t go to college in the midst of a recession. In fact, the job market was so crazy when I graduated that I’d already had a position lined up for six months. (Remember those days?)
College is more expensive now and money’s tighter, so families are doing what they can to cut costs, according to the third annual “How American Pays for College” report. About three-quarters of families reduced spending to make school more affordable and nearly half bumped up work hours or earnings.
But the most interesting statistic is this one: Some 43 percent of families say their student lived at home.
Well, obviously that saves money. If your in-college kid is still living in her bedroom upstairs, you’re saving a bundle on housing costs. And unless you live in a city that’s home to a large university of some kind, you might also be saving cash by sending her to community college for a couple of years.
Frankly, I think that’s smart. Experts have long suggested that families send kids to community college for a few years before transferring (and getting the degree) from the bigger school to save money.
But I also wonder whether these students are missing out on the college experience, which often serves as the stepping stone to an independent adult life without Mom and Dad. College is a nice little microcosm where you can learn to pay bills on time and juggle multiple responsibilities. Oh, and maybe cook once in a while.
But I also don’t believe in going miles into debt for an experience, and if living with Mom and Dad is what gets you a college degree without saddling you with $50,000 in student loans, then that’s what you do.
If you had it to do over again, would you live with your parents while you went to a local college?
(Image from Wheelock College Archives on Flickr.)