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The hidden costs of your daily commute

Off-campus living might not save you as much as you'd like


November 12, 2014

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    Recently commuter students across the nation have been speaking out about the benefits and unforseen costs of living at home and commuting to class.
     “I’m expected home by dinner time, but a lot of the student groups have their meetings in the evening. There are group projects for classes, and it’s impossible to schedule everyone during the day — we have to meet at night, " an anonymous student told the University of Minnesota for a section on its website exploring the challenges of commuting.
    Some universities, like the University of Minnesota, want to help their commuter students and address their needs.
    The website quoted students listing other challenges in commuting from home: waking up early is difficult, missing a bus can make you an hour late, the commute is tiring and younger siblings living at home are often a distraction.
    Months ago U.S. News used data from 240 universities to find that 89 percent of college freshmen were living off campus or commuting, and one of the reasons was to save money.
     Sallie Mae, which handles most of the nation's student financial aid loans, reported in its 2014 "How Americans Pay for College" summary that travel and transportation costs are one area that many families overlook when it comes to planning out college expenses.
     One in five families reported that they underestimated their travel expenditures and 55 percent were especially surprised by the costs of commuting to school.
    In the same annual report, Sallie Mae also said that students living at home may save money on living expenses, but they do not save money on travel or food costs.
    Students need to also consider the price of gasoline and vehicle maintenance, as well as parking. Sallie Mae reported that one survey identified a university where the parking permit cost between $109 to $842 based on the location.
    Rosemary Kann, a commuter student at Boston College, told The Heights student newspaper, "Living at home can sometimes be a challenge, but living on campus with a roommate also has similar challenges, just based on people that you live with. Commuting is a lifestyle, and although it can be complicated, it’s a choice that you’ve made. You have to continue going and see what works for you."


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