Student Housing Woes: Worthy Of Worry Or Wrong-Headed Whining?

view of high rise hosuing through window
UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing photo by C-Monster is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
New student housing on campus.

To an American student complaining about unaffordable housing, a sensible college administration might point out that earning a degree can well add an extra million dollars or so to lifetime earnings.

And a sensible, cash-strapped undergraduate might well respond, “Can I have that up front, please?”

The increasing unaffordability of housing is tightening the wringer on impoverished students. To add insult to injury, they are not necessarily seen as victims of an affordable housing crisis, but one of the contributing causes. This viewpoint comes from communities that see their colleges as warehouses of students ‘come from away’ and soon to leave again.

When the almost inevitable overflow from school dorms washes into town, looking for apartments to share, students increase the scarcity and push up the price of local housing — usually relatively affordable housing. This happens to the detriment of local workers who are seen as more deserving of community support.

One solution on offer: demand that local schools provide dorm housing for all their undergrads, at the very least. But universities these days are engaging in public/private dorm-building partnerships. And that is leaving students paying dorm fees that are ‘affordable’ in name only.

A Boston area student makes a case against compulsory dorm living and the unfairness of a further financial burden upon students. As well, some students clearly feel that that living off campus with a pack of buddies in a rented house is an important part of the university experience. Read more in the Boston Globe: I’m A College Student In Boston, And I Deserve Affordable Housing, Too