Commuting is the economical move

by Tomas Nieto

The college experience is about trying new things and transitioning into adulthood.

Students who choose to live away from home face many new and exciting experiences. However, the cost of moving away as well as tuition quickly adds up. The economical alternative is living at home.

Students who chose not to move out save money by reducing the cost of living. The San Diego State Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship estimates the total cost of attending is about $7,000 for students living at home.

This includes tuition, books, transportation and personal needs. In contrast, a student living away from home is estimated to pay more than $24,000. If a student completes his or her degree in four years, the amount of money saved by living at home could be more than $28,000. This raises the question as to whether independence while earning a bachelor’s degree is worth the extra cost.

After students complete their degrees, many often move back home because of mounting debt and limited career opportunities. CNNMoney reports the average student loan debt is nearly $27,000, a spectacular increase from 2010. This is worsened by the fact that the recent college graduate unemployment rate is at 9 percent. Last year, Huffington Post reported as many as 50 percent of college graduates don’t have degree-equivalent careers defined as “either working no job at all, working a part-time job or working a job outside of the college labor market.” Still, the few students who did land quality jobs last year can start paying off debt and potentially move out or avoid returning home. However, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is still high and financially stable careers are rare, meaning the taste of freedom is often short-lived for many students.

Many students resent not being independent during college. However, returning home after graduation can be much worse. This college generation is often referred to as the “boomerang generation” because graduates often move back in with their parents. According to a study from Ohio State University one-third of 25-to- 34-year-olds live with their parents because of financial strains. Last year, Huffington Post also reported “one-in-10 college educated adults between the ages of 30-34 are living at home.” College is about broadening experiences, but it is important for students to realize the amount of debt they take on could be substantially reduced by commuting from home. Few job opportunities after graduation offer students limited means of paying back loans. This causes students to risk ruining their credit scores because they don’t have a suitable income.

Staying at home does have obvious downfalls such as chores, rules and potentially overbearing parents. However, benefits such as saving money on food, seeing family and living in relatively more space than a residence hall or a small apartment. The difference between the two is experiencing independence versus comfort and familiarity.

The college experience is not limited to moving out, it’s about trying new things and learning about oneself. Students living at home can still meet new people in their classes, join clubs or become part of Greek life. Students who commute just don’t have the automatic social experience the residence hall life entails. Other than living away from home, commuting students have more or less the same social and academic opportunities college offer.

Students should save money while they can because of the amount of debt accumulated during the course of a student’s undergraduate studies and the sobering unemployment statistics for recent college graduates. College is a transitional period between the teen years and adulthood, emphasizing self- discovery. Students should keep in mind college is only a small portion of life. They should feel unburdened by student loans while they explore the world during the years after graduation.