On-Campus Housing is Too Expensive

In the last issue of the Point News, there were articles on a tuition increase of $330 a year and students struggling abroad having trouble finding housing on campus.  While both of these articles were well written and covered issues pertinent to students and their budgets, I think that one crucial issue was overlooked: the cost of housing on campus.

Tuition and fees for an academic year for a Maryland resident total $12,313.50 ($12,643.50 after the tuition increase), while housing ranges from $5,800 to $6,700 a year, about 50 percent of the cost of tuition and fees. Broken down by month, it comes out to $774  a month for the cheapest housing on campus and $894 a month for the most expensive (assuming that we’re allowed in our residences for 7.5 months out of the year).  That’s a very substantial amount for any student to pay, particularly considering that most housing options on campus have students sharing a bedroom and no kitchen.  Now, I understand that housing in certain markets is very expensive. In most major cities in the United States, $700-$800 a month would be considered very reasonable rent for a student.  However, St. Mary’s College is located in a rural area with slightly more reasonable housing prices.

I am currently studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany and my rent for a student apartment with a full kitchen and my own room costs 266.5 Euros per month (including utilities and internet), which comes out to $384 (U.S.) a month.  Multiply that by 7.5 and I am paying $2,880 (U.S.) for an academic year.  The counterpart to this housing on campus would be an apartment with a single bedroom, for which I would pay St. Mary’s $6,700 (U.S.) for the exact same period of time.  This is a price differential of $3,820 (U.S.), quite a substantial amount of money, particularly for a student.  It sort of makes the $330-tuition increase pale in comparison.

So maybe before we start fighting moderate tuition increases, students should be focused on demanding more reasonable housing prices from the College. With limited off-campus housing options (particularly for those such as myself who do not own a motor vehicle), the College has a near monopoly on housing.  However, that does not give them a license to force unreasonable housing prices on students who are already going into debt in order to pay for college tuition.

Submitted by Chelsea HowardFoley ‘11

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