At Kent State, all freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus. The only exemptions for underclassmen – under 60 credits – include medical reasons, financial hardships, commuters and fraternity or sorority housing.
Housing on campus is expensive. While currently living in the Honors dorms on campus, I am paying $4,198 per semester for housing. That comes to just under $1,000 per month in rent, essentially. This is especially true since you get kicked out of your room over winter break, unless you pay the $25 per day to stay in the dorms.
If I were to live off campus in a 2-bedroom apartment, splitting the rent with one other person, I could be spending as little as under $500 a month. That is easily half of what I am paying to live in the dorms. While most of the cheapest apartments are unfurnished, even furnished ones start at $589 per month plus electricity.
College is expensive, that is a known fact. As an out of state student living in the dorms, I am paying around $20,000 a semester, before scholarships. For students paying that much to go here, they should not be required to spend twice as much on rent to live in the dorms.
I have savings and I have a job. Instead of being able to enjoy any of that money, almost all of it goes to paying Kent State for my ridiculously expensive out of state tuition, which is a whole other issue, and my entirely overpriced room and board costs.
Now I’m not saying that first year students are included in my thoughts. I can see why they should be required to live in a dorm as a way to introduce themselves to the campus and adjust to the new college lifestyle. Past that, however, it should be the student’s choice.
In reality, there is no major, fundamental difference between a sophomore and a junior. They are all for the most part, taking mainly major-specific classes, they still have semesters left until graduation and they have basically the same maturity level. Sophomores and juniors, for all intents and purposes, are essentially the same and should be treated equally.
This is especially true since class standing does not equal age. Some students come into Kent as a first year student with 50-plus credit hours, which, according to Kent, makes them sophomores or juniors when they come in. In their case, they should technically be a freshman but are actually upperclassmen. What about them? Why do they get the privilege of living off campus just because they took more classes in high school?
I, like many other students, am trying my best to graduate from Kent with as little debt as possible. I can’t do that while living in the dorms. My solution? Taking 12-15 credits over the summer, just so I can have the automatic exemption required for me to live in the apartment that I already signed a lease for next year.
While summer classes are typically more expensive than normal classes are, the money I will be saving from living off campus next year will make it more than worth it. Regardless, I should not have to sacrifice my entire summer, and sanity, just to save thousands of dollars in rent a semester.
Kent State needs to recognize the financial stress that campus housing places on students. To do this, there are two possible solutions.
First, although I feel as though this should be done regardless, Kent should lower the prices of living in the dorms. The price tag increases every year for new students, which just increases the financial burden on new students each year.
Second, Kent should allow students of sophomore standing to live off campus. Once they orient themselves to the campus freshman year, students should be able to spread their wings and figure things out on their own.
By doing these things, Kent would be providing students with more chances and opportunities to succeed. Instead of burying themselves in unreasonable amounts of student debt, Kent should allow students to pick their battles and choose more financially conscious decisions.
Hannah Keil is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]