Living on or off campus

Student ambassadors walk past Wilkerson Commons during move-in weekend on August 20, 2016. Photo by Nick Nelson/ The Dakota Student

Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson

Student ambassadors walk past Wilkerson Commons during move-in weekend on August 20, 2016. Photo by Nick Nelson/ The Dakota Student

When I decided that it was time for me to move out of the dorms, I was a little overwhelmed by what it costs every month to live in an apartment in Grand Forks. As an incoming freshman looking at the cost of college, the room and board fees of dorm living are always just lumped into “tuition,” so I never truly was realized what was being done with the large check I would drop off at One-Stop each semester. After researching it further, I have come to the conclusion living in the dorms is not the thriftiest option.

UND doesn’t allow first year students to live off-campus unless their parents own a house within the city, and these first year students are required to purchase the unlimited dining center meal plan. This means that freshman have to pay at least $7,856 for a place to stay and for their food every year. If you break that down into the eight months that students spend on campus, it adds up to about $982 each month. The good thing about this fee is that there are no surprise add-ons. In the dorms there is no water bill or electricity bill, and there’s free Wi-Fi. This outrageous price also includes all of your food, if you never go out to eat with your friends, but how many students are actually utilizing their food plan the way they should? I know when I was in the dorms, I certainly didn’t. On average, I went to a dining center about once a day, but of course not all students agree.

Kevin Buteau is a senior who started off his second year at UND this fall. He has lived in the dorms both years.

“I chose to live in the dorms because it keeps you involved. The dorms are the center of everything. You are close to everything.”

Buteau concluded that the dorms are a bit outdated, but steps are being made to improve them.

Taeler Vetter, a sophomore who recently moved out of the dorms, is excited to have gotten out of the dorms.

“Overall, I am happy that I am living off-campus because I get to have a bigger living space for less money, I never feel stuck, and it also makes me more responsible by having to budget and by learning more real life skills before I live on my own after college,” Vetter said.

Vetter felt that although she enjoyed her time in the dorms, the pros of moving off of campus definitely trumped the cons, especially when it comes down to the cost. Eating on campus averages out to about $10 to $12 per meal, and Vetter said that she could eat at her apartment, or even go out to a restaurant and eat for less than that price.

Living in the dorms made me feel like I was still in high school. Sacrificing being farther away from campus is worth it to me for more privacy and freedom.

On average, living in an apartment and buying your own groceries is going to cost less than paying for the dorms and food plan. Even after paying for utilities, my fully-furnished, updated apartment costs less per month than living in the dorms. The cost would be understandable if the dorms weren’t so outdated, but unfortunately they could use a lot of work. Living in an apartment also means getting a kitchen, bathroom, and laundry all within the same unit, which is a tremendous step up from the tiny cube with bunk beds and desks that I was used to sharing with another person.

If you are very involved and enjoy being at the heart of campus and don’t mind paying a little more, the dorms are the place for you but for people like Vetter and me, off-campus living is the way to go.

Emily Gibbens is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]