Choosing a College: Should I Stay Close to Home?
Explore the pros and cons of staying near home or living at home during college.
Certain cities may offer more internships and other opportunities in your chosen field, helping you land a job more easily after graduation.
For some high school students, staying close to home for college is an easy decision, while others may choose to venture far from the nest. For many, the decision comes down to finances alone.
When it comes to deciding whether or not to travel for college, what are the real costs you’ll be facing? Read below to find out more...
Living at Home: How Much Will You Save?
There are some perks for college students living with parents. The biggest financial discount is the savings on room and board. The typical rate for a dorm room per year will run $10,000, meaning that over the course of four years you could save upwards of $40,000.
And don’t forget the money you’ll save on other expenses, like food and laundry. They may seem like small expenses, but when your dorm room lacks a kitchen and laundry room, dining out and paying for wash and fold can add up.
But commuting to campus comes with costs of its own; like the price tag of traveling (i.e. gas, car maintenance, insurance, a bus pass), parking expenses on campus, and the additional meals you may be charging out since you’ll be on the go a lot more than on-campus students.
Travel Costs for Out-Of-State Schools
If the college of your choice is not within driving distance from home, travel expenses to make it home for the holidays can get pricey. Plane and train tickets charge peak fares during major holidays when most out-of-town students choose to go home to visit their families; such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break.
When estimating the cost of your out-of-town school, be sure to allocate enough in your budget for travel expenses. Booking flights early, and traveling on off-peak days, such as Tuesdays and Wednesdays, may help you fly home for Christmas without breaking the bank.
Alternatively, you may need to choose one or two times only per year to travel home. How well you can handle being away from home for long periods of time is definitely a factor to consider when choosing an out-of-state school.
Benefits of Living Close to Home
Aside from the financial aspects, living close to home will afford you other perks as well.
Having close family nearby can not only save you money on meals and other expenses, but it can also be a source of support during stressful times. Getting homesick won’t be an issue, since taking the occasional “weekend break” to visit is an option. Also, for emergencies or illness, being a quick drive away from family can be helpful too.
Another advantage to staying close to home for college is being able to maintain the friendships you cultivated during high school. You won’t be in a completely new city without knowing anyone. So, if you’re not the outgoing type – staying close to home for college may be a comforting choice.
But, regardless if you stay close to home or go away to school, you’re still going to be in a new class with new students. If you’re a commuter, be sure to participate in the freshman year social activities set-up by your school. You don’t want to isolate yourself from the fun of freshmen year, and the chance to meet new people and make new friends. It’s part of what college is all about!
In-State Versus Out-Of-State Tuition
According to the Washington Post, the average cost of a public college for students paying in-state tuition is $15,213 per year. While venturing out-of-state to a public university will, on average, run you a minimum of $25,000 before financial aid is factored in.
That price jumps even higher should you choose to attend a private school, which will cost an average of $35,600 per year.
- There are some advantages to out-of-state colleges. Exploring a new city and state can be an adventure, and allows you to step out of your comfort zone and soak in new surroundings. Being on your own also offers freedom from your parents and allows you to take on more responsibilities.
- It may inevitably all come down to whether or not there are universities in your area that will suit your academic needs. If you’re looking into an industry that focuses on the arts, you may need to travel outside of your comfort zone to a city that offers programs geared toward your concentration. Also, certain cities may offer more internships and other opportunities in your chosen field, helping you land a job more easily after graduation.