5 Public Universities with Affordable Room and Board

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According to the 2018 College Board Trends in College Pricing report, the average cost of room and board at four-year public universities is $11,140 per year. While this rate is more affordable than most private colleges, it’s still a significant expense. Furthermore, most dorms don’t offer the amenities, space, and privacy of an on-campus apartment. The following five universities are just a few of many public institutions around the nation that offer affordable room and board rates below the national average.


#5 University of Texas, Austin  - Austin, Texas

At the University of Texas at Austin, annual room and board fees are $10,804. The fourteen residence halls at the UT Texas Austin feature a variety of different, but equally desirable amenities. Some rooms feature individual thermostats, pianos, and sundecks. Others feature private ensuite bathrooms and proximity to the dining hall or local favorite Guadalupe Street, home to a variety of eateries and shops for students. Undergraduate students with at least 30 credit hours (12 semester hours) can apply to live in university-owned apartments, which feature paid utilities and include cable.


#4 Florida Gulf Coast University - Fort Myers, Florida

Room and board at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is $9,672 annually. Unlike most residence halls, the majority of student housing options at FGCU include a private bedroom within a shared living environment. Amenities include study and game rooms, pools, and even an on-campus movie theater. Another benefit of living on campus at FGCU is the focus on campus safety. The campus is monitored 24/7, and a shuttle is available to take students to both on- and off-campus destinations.


#3 University of Missouri - Columbia, Missouri

The University of Missouri’s annual room and board fees are estimated at $10,808 for the academic year. There are a variety of on-campus housing options including community-style residence halls, shared suites, and singles. Studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments are also available. Amenities include cable TV and unlimited laundry. Perhaps the best amenity is the brand-new state-of-the-art recreation facility that cost nearly $50 million to construct. The facility features pools, whirlpool spas, a hot tub, and a lazy river surrounded by palm trees.


#2 Saginaw Valley State University - University Center, Michigan

The maximum a first-year student will pay for room and board at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) is $10,886. For returning students, housing plans start at $4,300. Students at SVSU can choose from single suites, living communities, and other themed buildings. Amenities include furniture, digital cable, laundry facilities, and kitchenettes with a stove, refrigerator, and microwave. Courtesy phone booths and parking are provided for students at no additional cost.


#1 Colorado State University - Ft. Collins, Colorado

Featuring an abundance of single rooms and suites, room and board at Colorado State University is under $9,000 for a single suite with a private bathroom and full meal plan. Most students can find more affordable options by choosing a community single with shared hall bathrooms (under $7,000) or a community double (under $6,000). Students can also choose to live in apartments, which feature comparable rents. Apartments include cable TV, internet, and utilities (heat, electric, water, sewer, trash).


What if room and board is still too expensive?

Keep in mind that room and board rates in the cost of attendance typically reflect the average or most expensive housing and meal plan options. Many public universities have strict requirements requiring first-year students to live in residence halls and in some cases, to purchase a meal plan. Also, housing for freshmen students is typically limited to a select few residence halls. For upperclassmen, housing options are generally less restricted and more affordable. You may find more affordable housing and meal plans by reviewing all of the housing options on your college’s campus life website.

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