College Planning

Room and Board Expenses: 7 Things to Know About Dorm Living

For college students studying in person, living on campus, is both efficient and exciting. But remember that dorm living is a cost you’ll need to budget for. Read on for a quick starter guide to understanding room and board expenses.


1. What is room and board? 

The term room and board refers to how much a student pays for housing and meals in college. Like tuition, these costs vary from college to college.


2. Room and board is typically listed separately from tuition expenses. 

When planning for college, make sure you account for this expense in your college costs. Some students choose to save money on room and board expenses by attending a college near their home or by taking online courses.


3. Room and board covers your basic living needs. 

When you hear the term room and board, think of room as your dorm or housing, including your bed, desk, heat, utilities, and Wi-Fi, and board as your meal plan, which can vary from school to school.


4. On average, private schools tend to be more expensive than public schools. 

This varies from college to college, but you should be able to see prices on the  College Costs profile page or the individual school’s finance page.


5. Most schools provide free or discounted housing to resident advisors (RAs). 

This might be a good option for anyone looking for cost savings. Before signing up for the role, make sure to read through the RA responsibilities for the school.


6. Many scholarships can be used to cover your education-related expenses. 

This includes room and board, but make sure to read through your full scholarship for any instructions on how any awards can be spent.


7. Be mindful about using your student loans on room and board. 

Remember that you have to pay back your loans. The more housing and food expenses you incur, the more you’ll need to pay back (plus interest).


Concerned about paying for college? You’re not alone! Learn the basics of paying for college on BigFuture.