The state of the economy is affecting college students and making them re-examine the economics of living on campus versus the freedom and expense of apartment life.

In 2007-2008, the cost of living for on-campus students was estimated at $4,000 for room and board alone and $6,284 for off-campus students according to the National Center of Education Statistics.

The most expensive dorm on campus is Louis H. and Joseph Z. Ornelas Residential Complex at $2,985 per semester. The remaining eight dorms all cost $2,075. According to the Residential Life office this must be paid at one time. The dorm costs include a meal plan, utilities, cable and internet.

“You get the room and board paid for at once instead of monthly payments,” said David Camacho, resident of Ornelas Complex.

Apartments in Tyler range from $480-$1,335 per month. That would be $1,920-$5,340 per semester not including the extra living costs.

Melody Huff, area coordinator of Residential Life, said it is actually cheaper to live on campus since students who live in apartments have to pay extra costs like electricity and food.

“Students living on campus have that included in the cost of living,” Huff said.

Students living off campus have to pay groceries, gas, utilities and cable bills separately. The average cost of groceries for a student living off-campus ranges from $100-$400 per month. Gas prices ranged from $2-$5 per gallon this past year. Utilities including electric, water and garbage range from $10-$150 per month. Some apartments offer free cable and internet, however the average cost of cable and internet could be as high as $100 per month.

Some low-income students who live off campus cannot afford the extra costs.

“I stay in low-income housing with utilities included,” said Sharon Grant, TJC student and resident of Grand Manor Apartments. “I struggle to get groceries. It’s harder because of gas expenses. It used to cost $20 but now $40 a week to fill up.”

“Without food stamps there would be no money to eat,” said Niki Gibson, a TJC student and resident of The Park at Shiloh Apartments.

“Having an apartment costs more than a dorm room but it provides more space,” said Jason Morris, a TJC student and resident of Chelsea Creek Apartments. “For me the extra space is worth the money, and I’m not forced to have a roommate which is a major plus for me also.”

Morris said that students staying off campus have more freedom than students living in the dorms.

“I would rather have an apartment because you don’t have to deal with drama from suite mates,” said Chicoya Jackson, resident of Bateman Hall. “The bills may be more, but it is better than high school drama.”

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