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Long commute or Dorms?


Miguelsmom
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10 hours ago, Miguelsmom said:

I wouldn't feel comfortable with him off campus without a car. It's ~$610/month. He wouldn't have a co-signer so most likely won't be able to get an apartment.

$610 WITH roommates?  My oldest shared a 3 bedroom with 2 other roommates, so that would be over $1800 for a 3 br.  I know different areas have different rents but that seems a bit high to me for a complex that caters to college students.  But of course you have probably done quite a bit of research on that option anyway.

 

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On 6/24/2019 at 8:55 AM, Miguelsmom said:

 

 

I want my son to commute 45 min-70 min one way in high traffic (varies due to accidents on the bridge). My husband wants my son to stay in the dorms. We can’t help him financially. His tuition and books are paid and he’ll have money left over either for dorms or commuting. It wouldn’t cover all the dorms so he would have to take out loans. He may or may not get a job. Currently he does DE and it takes him all day to complete everything. He completes work slowly. So concentrating on completing school work is important.  

 

My husband’s fear is him driving in that traffic, him not feeling connected to the campus, finding friends, the 2+ hours a day taken away from studies, that he’ll just STOP going and things like that.

 

My issues are financial. If he did commute he’d save about $11k a year, have his own room. However he would have to buy a reliable car, insurance, gas, AAA, maintenance and a meal plan. He wouldn’t have a car if he lived on campus. I’m not sure if my idea will cost more, essentially the same, or actually less. I really don’t want him starting out with debt.

 

What would you advise?

I'd advise neither.


We have the identical scenario.
DS had big scholarship $$ his first two years.  His tuition was fully covered, books, and then some.  He stayed in the dorms.  His dorm and meal plan came out to approximately $950/month, give or take, I don't remember the exact numbers.

Last semester, we thought he'd lose a big scholarship and he moved home for the semester.  He commuted, working to cover his costs. His travel is about 50 minutes, one way, in ideal & fast-moving traffic.  I *loved* having him home, but he would stay on campus for so much - study groups, mock trial practice, socializing, etc.  So when he got home, it would be late, or he'd be tired.  He stayed on campus a few times due to nasty weather.   Financially, he came out ahead over the dorm stay, but it was still an expensive and more stressful semester and very hard on his tired, old car.

This semester he is renting an apartment with a friend - $350+ utilities (so approximately $400/month) and we are covering a meal plan, but obviously grocery shopping and cooking would be less.   I wish they had looked at a 3 bedroom and pulled in another roommate too - that would have lowered it even further.

IMO, this is precisely why it is mostly freshman in the dorms.  Newbie parents and students don't do the math of how crazy expensive the dorms are!  

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The area that is nearby caters to students. So they offer apartments that are per room rent with everything included. A little outside the area is not the best neighborhood and would have to have a car. We're in a cheap complex 45 min-70 min away and our 3 bedroom in our complex is $1500 w/o utilities. It's cheaper then the dorms though.   

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16 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

Ok, so it sounds like commuting isn't really saving $11k, since $6k of that is paid for by the Pell Grant.  Which means he's only saving $5k by commuting.  Which, given the gas prices, he wouldn't really save since that would all go towards the gas money.  So, financially at least, it sounds like the commute isn't actually worth it.

 

An alternative solution that might actually save money is an apartment near campus with roommates.  Many large schools have apartment complexes nearby that cater to college students.  My DD stayed in an apartment the last two years of school, she had roommates but didn't have to find them, the apartment complex did that.  And, every person in her apartment had their own lease.  So, she couldn't get kicked out if her roommate didn't pay rent.  This was a super common thing near her school and it's my understanding that many large schools have such a set up.

 



Yes to all of this.  The other significant consideration is this:  I assume since $$ is tight, that he already owns a car?  How reliable is it?
The costs associated with a car is significant.  DS owns a 1999 Malibu that he paid $1200 for, lol.  He doesn't have monthly payment, but there are significant costs - tires, upkeep, repairs.  We pay his insurance, but if you're not currently, that's an additional expense.  

If he isn't working, he will have monthly expenses and including gas with a commute.
If he's commuting an hour a day, that's two he could be working on campus without commute costs.  At $10/hour - that's $20/day or $100/week without touching nights or weekends.

12 hours ago, Miguelsmom said:

I wouldn't feel comfortable with him off campus without a car. It's ~$610/month. He wouldn't have a co-signer so most likely won't be able to get an apartment.


University campuses/towns don't follow predictable rules.  They make a lot of money off recognizing their market is college students and so they cater to kids with no credit history.  I understand your discomfort.  Our first (DD) 100% commuted her entire three years at school until she graduated.  DS decided he wanted to live on campus, in dorms, and was willing to take out minimal loan amounts to make it happen.  He also didn't think his current car would survive the commuting daily.  DS signed a contract for an apartment close to campus in June.  He moves in August.  No co-signer needed and no credit check.  He and roommate signed separate leases for the same room.  Each is responsible for their own half.

We did a TON of research.
The bus system is amazing and a lot of students figure it out.  It has an app and a learning curve, but it's doable.  
DD's commuter parking fee was significant - like $400/semester.
As much as I thought DS would want/need to have a car, I was wrong.  The city caters to their students - and students can bus/walk/jog etc.  DS opted to run to classes rather than use the bus.  His dorm was furthest from his classes - one was over a mile daily.  He actually preferred running, lol, so ya never know.

Having a car meant his friends had to move them constantly due to regulations, costs, and weather.  He said it was a pain and they rarely used them.  He never wished he had a car on campus as a freshman or sophomore.

As a junior, he'll be off campus, but let's be honest, college towns are essentially a campus.  He will have a car there this next year, but only because his apartment includes parking ( a rarity) and because he commutes to his job this year.

I'd suggest that you carefully evaluate what you currently believe and why believe them  - it's not said sassy, it's just that before we send a kid off to school, we evaluate based on things that may make sense in a real world scenario, but university city living is different than that - such as needing credit or a co-signer to get an apartment, the necessity of a car, expenses, etc.  We live in a state with inadequate public transportation, many miles between cities, and fields in between.  It never occurred to me that people could survive here without access to a car.  And they can't, for the most part, EXCEPT in the college communities. 😉 
 

Edited by BlsdMama
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We lived in an unsafe area around there years ago our apartment would be $800+ utilities (so $400+ utilities if they set it up like a double dorm room like we did). However none of his friends are going to this university. Most kids stay local and finish their BA/BS at our local college, the satellite campus, or commute to a private school. He wants THIS school, if the school did early decision this is where he would pick. The bus system there is great (and free for students) but because of the area I wouldn't want him walking around. Yes, the area is that bad plagued with violence, and drugs. I know it's who you know that's the issue but I don't want to chance it. I'll talk it over with my family though.

 

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1 hour ago, Miguelsmom said:

I figured he'd go in and stay the same amount of time doing homework, hanging out with friends, doing clubs and then go home. I guess because I did it. Bus not drive, I figured driving would be a bit easier and not a big deal. We use to go from 6 am - 7 (8)pm on campus. 

There are definitely people who can pull this off and not think twice about it, but I would have been exhausted. For me, driving that far is actually way harder than riding a bus - it's much easier to chat, read, and drowse for an hour than to concentrate on the road for an hour, and  you described a very high-stress drive with lots of traffic and accidents. 

53 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

 IMO, this is precisely why it is mostly freshman in the dorms.  Newbie parents and students don't do the math of how crazy expensive the dorms are!  

I think it is mostly freshman in the dorms because most schools without a housing shortage require freshmen to live in the dorms, and schools with a housing shortage give freshmen preference. 

There are other reasons, too! I like the extra layer of security in the dorms (single entrance, rooms don't have exterior doors, key card to enter building, front desk attendant) that the off-campus options don't have at my kids' schools. My kids are elf-sized and started college with no experience living on their own, so that was important to me. 

Plus, sometimes the math work in favor of the dorms, it just depends. At one of their schools, there is exactly one apartment complex within walking distance of campus, and it's more expensive than the dorms. Neither school is in a city where living out of walking distance without a car is practical. Most American cities don't have good public transport, but the really big universities will have their own bus system. 

But, yeah, that is why research is called for, nothing about sending them to college can be too simple. I think it's a law, lol. 

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2 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

$610 WITH roommates?  My oldest shared a 3 bedroom with 2 other roommates, so that would be over $1800 for a 3 br. 

We saw this price in Florida when researching a college there. Actually, it wasn't unusual to see $500+ (not including utilities or parking) each for a 4 bdr/2 bath. Freshmen had priority for the dorms and then were pretty much not able to get the dorms after that year (with some exceptions). That meant there were a ton of students looking for housing. The apts near the school were serviced by the college's free student shuttle & could charge whatever they wanted, pretty much, even though some were run down/trashed.

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35 minutes ago, Miguelsmom said:

We lived in an unsafe area around there years ago our apartment would be $800+ utilities (so $400+ utilities if they set it up like a double dorm room like we did). However none of his friends are going to this university. Most kids stay local and finish their BA/BS at our local college, the satellite campus, or commute to a private school. He wants THIS school, if the school did early decision this is where he would pick. The bus system there is great (and free for students) but because of the area I wouldn't want him walking around. Yes, the area is that bad plagued with violence, and drugs. I know it's who you know that's the issue but I don't want to chance it. I'll talk it over with my family though.

 

I think there is a good chance you are discussing the school my ds is at. He lived in the dorms first year but is moving off campus. I had concerns, as well, about the surrounding area and we are out of state so we really don’t know the area at all. My ds will be at an apartment right off campus. Actually closer to most of his classes than his dorm was. He is paying $700/mo. He could have found cheaper a little farther away from campus but we told him to pay the extra to be so close. I think one of the reasons the apartments are so expensive is that dorms at this school are high. So even at $700/mo ds is coming out ahead. My ds has a job there over the summer so the year lease works better for him anyway. My ds would not need a car at his apartment, at all, but he has a job downtown and needs the car for that. But the apartment is actually more accessible to points of interest to him than his dorm was. 

I totally get the preference for on campus for a freshman and if he isn’t staying over the summer it is probably a wash financially. The required first year meal plan is expensive too. I think the great state scholarship program in FL allows the school to be high on room and board because so many students have such good tuition deals. (My opinion at least).

Sounds like a tough situation, OP, and likely why people in your area do not normally attend this school. Maybe you just need to lay out all the details for your ds and compare to the options closer to home. At that point, if your ds wants to take the loans, that is his decision and he will be  responsible for them. I am of the belief that federal loans are often worth it and are generally manageable if kept to just the federal loan limits. I present the “with loans” and “without loans” options to my kids and if they choose the loans I am supportive. I wouldn’t take out Plus loans or co-sign for private loans but I have no trouble being supportive of the federal loans. Especially if your ds doesn’t have four years to finance. 

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14 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

My ds has a job there over the summer

I would love for my son to get a job/internship over the summer. As long as he lives on campus he will not have a car because of parking unless he's coming home often. 

 

28 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

Actually closer to most of his classes than his dorm was.

That's one thing I worry about. The cheap dorms being far away from his classes. instead of the centralized dorms. The campus alone is about 2.5 miles total.

 

38 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

I present the “with loans” and “without loans” options to my kids and if they choose the loans I am supportive. I wouldn’t take out Plus loans or co-sign for private loans but I have no trouble being supportive of the federal loans. Especially if your ds doesn’t have four years to finance. 

I think we're going to set up the loans and try work study the first semester. 

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I'm biased towards commuting where it makes sense but in this situation, plan on the dorm/meal plan for the first year.  It sounds affordable, safer than the long drive, and is what the student would prefer. I'd try to make it work.

My two DDs commute together and it is only about 30 minutes each way with significant delays only happening a couple times a semester.  They are usually on campus from early morning (to get the best parking) through late afternoon.  They'll stick around through late evening once or twice a week for specific events or fun with classmates.  They prefer to pack food from home for both convenience and saving money.  They enjoy having the comfort and solitude of their own bedrooms at home. 

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I drove 2 hours each way during my sophomore and junior year of engineering school and was married so I had to be a responsible adult as well. I was very motivated and kept a very high GPA.

*IF* he is motivated to learn, he could do it. If he is not super motivated, I'd vote dorms - but honestly I'd look at a realistic detailed cost analysis first. If the costs are close, I'd sit him down and talk with him about this. He is getting to be an adult and needs to think through things like this. 

However, if his degree plan is super academic - in that it is to his advantage to participate in study groups or attend separate tutoring sessions, then that would weigh heavily on the dorms side for me. 

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Well, would he even be able to take a loan for the amount of money required to cover a dorm?  Do I think dorm living is worth 44K of debt for undergrade vs. no/very low debt and commuting?  I'd go with commuting.  I might consider dorm JUST for freshman year if he could get the debt required down to the federal loan limits.  If he does commute, I'd just encourage him to hang on campus and use his time until traffic is reasonable.  

Honestly, this doesn't sound well thought out if he doesn't have a car now either?  Is there any debt free or very low debt option for him?  Is there are closer CC he could start at?  Does he have some savings for a vehicle?

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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30 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

Do I think dorm living is worth 44K of debt for undergrade vs. no/very low debt and commuting? 

It would be $11k debt total  Dorms are 1/2 covered by grants, 1/2 loans.

 

33 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

Honestly, this doesn't sound well thought out if he doesn't have a car now either?

He would take our car until he got his grant and buy a cheap car with that.

 

38 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

Does he have some savings for a vehicle?

He has no savings at all.

35 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

Is there any debt free or very low debt option for him?

Not in his major 

 

35 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

Is there are closer CC he could start at?

He'll have 96 transferable credits when going so he'll only need 48 credits at the University.

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3 hours ago, Miguelsmom said:

He'll have 96 transferable credits when going so he'll only need 48 credits at the University.

 

Have you confirmed this with an academic adviser at the university who works in the department from which your son hopes to graduate (not just someone who works in admissions)? Some universities require a minimum number of credits (sometimes at least half of the total) to be completed on their campus in order to graduate. And sometimes credits completed at other institutions will be applied as general education credits but will not count toward a specific major.

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50 minutes ago, TarynB said:

 

Have you confirmed this with an academic adviser at the university who works in the department from which your son hopes to graduate (not just someone who works in admissions)? Some universities require a minimum number of credits (sometimes at least half of the total) to be completed on their campus in order to graduate. And sometimes credits completed at other institutions will be applied as general education credits but will not count toward a specific major.

Good pt.  Many Us require 60 hrs taken on-site in order to earn a degree from the institution.

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I drive my youngest to ballet five days a week and spend between 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the road or in traffic.  If I had done that at age 18 or 20 it would have been so soul crushing.  I would never recommend it for someone young.  I did drive about 30 minutes in no traffic when I was 21 to a college to get my Master's, (over a long and accident filled bridge in FL - might be the same school!)  The isolation and disconnectedness was there, but was more normal since most of the the students were older and pursuing a second career. 

My oldest daughter at college  sometimes stays very late for her job (which is also her extra curricular), she studies with friends late, and she goes to socials either on campus or in apartments (these can go very late into the night).  Her social life would be wrecked staying at home. 

I don't know what kind of car you have, a gas guzzler or something more economical, but a commute like that would probably cost OUR cars between 1200 and 2000 for the academic year.  So we aren't talking about a difference between 5K a year and nothing.... We are talking about a difference between 5k a year and possibly 2k.  So then you decide if 3k a year is worth all of the isolation and frustration of a long and possibly dangerous (for a young driver) commute.  

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8 hours ago, TarynB said:

 

Have you confirmed this with an academic adviser at the university who works in the department from which your son hopes to graduate (not just someone who works in admissions)? Some universities require a minimum number of credits (sometimes at least half of the total) to be completed on their campus in order to graduate. And sometimes credits completed at other institutions will be applied as general education credits but will not count toward a specific major.

They only need 30 hours at that university to receive their degree. His CC says they have to accept his GE classes if he gets an AA and the degree says they have to have their AS to be admitted to the particular program because their AS is their first 2 years. It'll extend his graduation date by a semester if  they don't accept the GE credits. It says they accept all AS degree classes from CC's. 

 

I figure between getting a car, gas, insurance, AAA, parking permit, ect. It'll cost him around $6k instead of $11 k but the next year that cost would decrease meaning he wouldn't have to take out the $5.5k in loans a year. Yes I'm stressing over $11k in loans because that's a lot and it's about $15k in the end with interest and fees. I don't want him to start off with that much debt. If I could I'd do a plus loan for him but we can't afford that. 

 

 

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Late to the game, but both of mine (a junior and a senior) are commuter students. At this point, mine don't qualify for need-based aid even though I'm low income single parent (complex situation). Both have some help through other sources, but the reality is that dorm living would require taking out a loan. We've discussed the positives and negatives of that, and at this point they choose not to take out a loan.

They take a commuter bus, and the trip usually takes about 90 minutes. It works very well for us. Both are involved on campus and locally. 

Works for us! 

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11 minutes ago, G5052 said:

 They take a commuter bus, and the trip usually takes about 90 minutes. It works very well for us. Both are involved on campus and locally.  

I mentioned this in my other post, but I do think it can make a big difference if you're driving yourself vs being driven. Even if you struggle with getting a lot done while riding, it's not as exhausting as concentrating on a difficult drive for 90 minutes each way. I don't usually do well reading extensively or taking full notes, but I can check emails, review checklists, and think about assignments. Heck, even drowsing or getting some socializing done is a better use of my time than driving, because I don't arrive tense and tired.

I know some people enjoy driving, but I don't know anyone who would enjoy the commute the OP described or not be somewhat tired by it.  

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5 hours ago, Miguelsmom said:

 figure between getting a car, gas, insurance, AAA, parking permit, ect. It'll cost him around $6k instead of $11 k but the next year that cost would decrease meaning he wouldn't have to take out the $5.5k in loans a year. Yes I'm stressing over $11k in loans because that's a lot and it's about $15k in the end with interest and fees. I don't want him to start off with that much debt. If I could I'd do a plus loan for him but we can't afford that. 

 

 

 

If you end up doing loans, one benefit of having the loan in his name is that it gives him a credit history. You can still pay it back for him if you like.

Good luck with the decision. Like most things with this college process, the information is rarely cut and dried. I tend to lean toward having him do the dorm, taking the loan if necessary.

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6 hours ago, Miguelsmom said:

They only need 30 hours at that university to receive their degree. His CC says they have to accept his GE classes if he gets an AA and the degree says they have to have their AS to be admitted to the particular program because their AS is their first 2 years. It'll extend his graduation date by a semester if  they don't accept the GE credits. It says they accept all AS degree classes from CC's.

 

I'm a little fuzzy at this point on the exact situation your son is in . . . in terms of what degree (AA/AS?) he'll have and how many credits he's transferring with and how many credits he specifically will need to complete at the U. (Needs 30 hours or 48? Will have an AA/AS, or 96 transfer hours?)

There's a difference between credits that transfer as gen ed vs credits that are deemed equivalent for a specific major by the receiving U. It sounds like you haven't actually confirmed with the U and are relying on the CC and perhaps some info you found online to advise you. In your shoes, I'd still confirm everything with a live person at the U to avoid potentially losing money and/or time, even more so in this situation where finances and the timeframe are portrayed as especially tight.

Best of luck to you and your son.

Edited by TarynB
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1 hour ago, TarynB said:

 

I'm a little fuzzy at this point on the exact situation your son is in . . . in terms of what degree (AA/AS?) he'll have and how many credits he's transferring with and how many credits he specifically will need to complete at the U. (Needs 30 hours or 48? Will have an AA/AS, or 96 transfer hours?)

There's a difference between credits that transfer as gen ed vs credits that are deemed equivalent for a specific major by the receiving U. It sounds like you haven't actually confirmed with the U and are relying on the CC and perhaps some info you found online to advise you. In your shoes, I'd still confirm everything with a live person at the U to avoid potentially losing money and/or time, even more so in this situation where finances and the timeframe are portrayed as especially tight.

Best of luck to you and your son.

I'm not the OP, but the way I read that was that "needs 30 hours" was in response to how many hours every student needs to complete at the university (by their requirement), and 48 hours is what this student will actually need. 

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36 minutes ago, kand said:

Thanks for sharing this! My dd will be a bus commuter (by choice) next year, and this thread was making me nervous. She’s a bus commuter now as well, but her commute will double from half an hour to almost an hour when she changes schools. She actually really enjoys her bus time, even though she can’t read or study. It’s relaxing time for her. 

 

Yes, mine don't mind too much. My oldest got a parking permit his first semester because he had a 7am class, and he found it frustrating. Getting a parking place after 8am is almost impossible. My younger one is talking about driving because she only has one class one day, but I don't think she would like it for long. She's not doing summer school, but I told her that she has to drive in and go with my older one when he has his summer class to see what it's really like before we buy a pass. 

And FWIW, our car insurance looks at the mileage, and it's less with them only driving to the bus stop.

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12 minutes ago, katilac said:

I'm not the OP, but the way I read that was that "needs 30 hours" was in response to how many hours every student needs to complete at the university (by their requirement), and 48 hours is what this student will actually need. 

Ah, yes, that part makes sense.

I still think that confirming with the U would be wise at this point, when options are being explored and decisions are being made, instead of relying on what the CC is saying.

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I'm confused by a couple of things.

1- is it actually possible to earn a degree in under 2 yrs?  I know that for my kids' degrees they wouldn't have been able to b/c of pre-reqs and course sequences.  Too many of their required courses have been 300/400 level courses that have jr yr and sr yr sequence requirements.  They could have finished 100 DE credit hours and it wouldn't have made any difference at all in terms of their ability to graduate in under another 4 semesters.

2-If $$ is a major issue, is this school the only option?  He won't be living on campus. What is the compelling reason behind this choice?  Is it the only 4 yr school within commuting distance or are there other options closer by where he could actually engage in more on-campus opportunities? 

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44 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

 

2-If $$ is a major issue, is this school the only option?  He won't be living on campus. What is the compelling reason behind this choice?  Is it the only 4 yr school within commuting distance or are there other options closer by where he could actually engage in more on-campus opportunities? 

This is what I keep coming back to. Why this school? Are the reasons for picking it worth the complicated scenario? 

I respect the hesitation to take loans (though personally I would be comfortable with 11K if there are good reasons to choose this school). We don’t know what your ds wants to study or why he is so set on this school but it just seems that maybe someplace closer could hit your balance of financial vs. length of commute concerns. 

Most schools don’t work for most kids. Most of our children here are limited by one factor or another. It’s okay if it just doesn’t work. 

If my dc were really set on a school for atmosphere/ campus life reasons I think the commute would negate that for them.

My ds is interested in the state university 70 minutes from our home. If he can’t afford it, commuting wouldn’t be the answer. He would just attend the satellite campus 30 minutes away. Or the private U that is ten minutes away.  Or he would live on campus somewhere more affordable. For my family, trying to make the first choice college happen by commuting that far just wouldn’t be a solution. The negatives would outweigh the positives and something else would become the first choice. 

Of course that’s just my .02 and I’m pretty sure you don’t agree. But you did ask!

 

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55 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

is it actually possible to earn a degree in under 2 yrs?

It'll take 2 years because of the sequence of classes. However he will barely be full time. All he has to do is complete the 300/400 courses. 

 

58 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

If $$ is a major issue, is this school the only option?

There's private schools and a State College. The state college has an online tech management degree but only 2 college's in the state have IA BS degree's. Most IA programs are masters programs. All other programs will take him longer to get through because of their pre-recs. It's only ~30 miles away but traffic is horrible. I think anywhere else will cost him more money.

 

1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

He won't be living on campus. What is the compelling reason behind this choice?

The only reason he wouldn't live on campus is the cost is is significantly higher than commuting.

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27 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

Why this school?

It's the closest state university to us. It lets him transfer all of his credits into the major leaving him with barely 2 years left. Has the cheapest dorm options. If not this university he'll have to stay at our local State college for a degree he doesn't want (also would only take him 2 years.) 

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21 minutes ago, Miguelsmom said:

It's the closest state university to us. It lets him transfer all of his credits into the major leaving him with barely 2 years left. Has the cheapest dorm options. If not this university he'll have to stay at our local State college for a degree he doesn't want (also would only take him 2 years.) 

Gotcha. My kids have more general and easy to find majors and we have a lot of colleges nearby so my thought was that there had to be closer options. 

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15 minutes ago, Miguelsmom said:

It'll take 2 years because of the sequence of classes. However he will barely be full time. All he has to do is complete the 300/400 courses. 

 

There's private schools and a State College. The state college has an online tech management degree but only 2 college's in the state have IA BS degree's. Most IA programs are masters programs. All other programs will take him longer to get through because of their pre-recs. It's only ~30 miles away but traffic is horrible. I think anywhere else will cost him more money.

 

The only reason he wouldn't live on campus is the cost is is significantly higher than commuting.

My personal POV is that thinking that he'll barely be full-time is the wrong thought process. If the degree is information studies at the U I think it is  and that somehow being able to earn it as a bachelor's instead of master's makes him that more marketable and a better option than a less specialized CS/MIS degree, then I would wonder if that argument is valid. Students often think they need a narrowly focused degree when the generic broader degree is fine. They zoom in on the degree namevs actual career outcome differences.

 What sorts of opportunities he is planning on engaging in to broaden and strengthen his skills outside of the classroom(co-ops, internships, undergraduate research/projects)? Those experiences are going to matter. What tangible real-life skills that are directly marketable will matter far more than a course title as an UG that has a slightly different scope. Classroom experiences are just a part of the bigger picture.

When you say you think anywhere else will cost him more $$, have you researched the costs elsewhere? I am completely sensitive to needing to keep costs low bc our kids have to as well. But, it is far better to over-research and make sure the best worst option is being chosen for the right reasons, than just making a decision bc that is what might probably be true.

FWIW, I would research and compare UG internship/placement opportunities and then graduation job placement/career variances among the related degrees and schools.

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

What sorts of opportunities he is planning on engaging in to broaden and strengthen his skills outside of the classroom(co-ops, internships, undergraduate research/projects)?

He's planing on getting certificates in different programming languages and different frameworks. However because of how he works he will only take 12 credits at a time, regardless of how long it takes. I don't know how much time he will have to devote to outside classroom activities. He will have the summer hopefully for work. Also I believe he is going to try freelancing.

 

1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

, have you researched the costs elsewhere?

Yes, they all (4 different ones) vary less then $1k in difference for room and board but the travel fees would make those dorms more.  

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10 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

When you say you think anywhere else will cost him more $$, have you researched the costs elsewhere? I am completely sensitive to needing to keep costs low bc our kids have to as well. But, it is far better to over-research and make sure the best worst option is being chosen for the right reasons, than just making a decision bc that is what might probably be true.

 

We are in the Midwest, and we have have gotten a lot of "coast" kids in our schools because of our low-ish cost of living. Even paying out of state or private tuition is sometimes cheaper than their state schools after everything is considered.

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4 minutes ago, MamaSprout said:

We are in the Midwest, and we have have gotten a lot of "coast" kids in our schools because of our low-ish cost of living. Even paying out of state or private tuition is sometimes cheaper than their state schools after everything is considered.

Yes.  

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The state tuition isn't the problem. He has free state tuition and $300 book voucher. The problem is the $5k shortfall for the dorms and the fact working, while in school, may not be possible for him. Now if he can get scholarships to cover that $5k a year, which he is trying. then things will be different. I don't know if it is possible to do a 2 or 3 day schedule but that is something that make commuting more of an option if necessary.   He should be able to cover it with subsidized loans as he enters as a junior. Then we'll try paying whatever we can. $125 in loans can be figured out even with a part time job. I really don't like the unsub. loans and the fact if he doesn't pay it off in less then 10 years it's 1.5x the amount of the original loan. I don't like the ideas of loans at all let alone something that bad. I know "It's an investment" and it seems small but to us it's not. I guess if he takes out loans I could always require him to join americorp after for each year he takes out loans. I don't know it's a lot to figure out.  

 

 

 

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I went to the University of Houston which was 40- 60 min from my home depending on traffic. I my parents paid for me to live in the dorms for two years, then I commuted for 2 more years. The agreement early on was that they would only pay for 2 years in the dorms. Actually, i commuted for 2 1/2 years, but I was married for the last 1/2, so I did not have any financial support from my parents after getting married.

i do think living in the dorms first helped me to make connections with other students. I met my now husband in a student organization at UH. When commuting from home, I left home at 6:00 am to avoid traffic and get to my on campus job that started at 7am. I stayed on campus all day and worked around my classes, the I participated in the student organization after work. I would often hang out with friends in the evenings, and not get home until 9pm or later, and I did this 5 days per week year round. It sounds worse than it felt at the time because Houston is a commuter city. many, many people commute an hour or more to work every day.

my DS is planning to commute to a college that is over 1hr from our current home. This particular school is a branch campus of your big state university which does not have any student housing. He already drives to this town 2-3 days per week for high school, but we live in the middle of nowhere now, so everyone is a long way from home.

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On 6/24/2019 at 6:33 PM, DawnM said:

My son will be commuting 30-40 min each way next year.  I offered the dorms or an apt and he said no, he wanted to be at home.

I have told him he can change his mind at any time.  I think he may end up getting a cheap apt. room (shared can be as little as $350/mo) and can come home on weekends, but for now, he will commute.

 

My daughter will be commuting next year too.  Her school is only 11 miles away, and it will take her about 20 minutes to get there.  The drive is on low traffic, residential and back roads, so it is a pretty easy and peaceful drive.  

We are fine with her living in the dorms if she wants to, but at this point, she wants to live at home.  The freshman dorms are not air conditioned, only have shared hall baths, etc. and she just has no interest in living there when she has her own bedroom and bathroom at home.  She also has horses that she rides every day.  They are in a barn only a mile from our house, so it is easier for her to live at home for that reason as well.  

If she changes her mind, we will be happy to let her live in the dorm. Her school requires all students who are not married, at least 22, a military vet, or some other conditions to live on campus unless they live within a 30 mile radius with their family.  Students are not allowed to get apartments unless they meet one of the parameters.  At this point, my DD feels that living at home is the best option for her.  Fortunately, she already knows quite a few people at this school, so I don't think that her social life will suffer at all.  

 

OP-- In your situation, with the long commute, I would vote that your son find a way to live in the dorms if at all possible.  That long, stressful drive would get old really fast!

 

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3 hours ago, edelweiss said:

My daughter will be commuting next year too.  Her school is only 11 miles away, and it will take her about 20 minutes to get there.  The drive is on low traffic, residential and back roads, so it is a pretty easy and peaceful drive.  

We are fine with her living in the dorms if she wants to, but at this point, she wants to live at home.  The freshman dorms are not air conditioned, only have shared hall baths, etc. and she just has no interest in living there when she has her own bedroom and bathroom at home.  She also has horses that she rides every day.  They are in a barn only a mile from our house, so it is easier for her to live at home for that reason as well.  

If she changes her mind, we will be happy to let her live in the dorm. Her school requires all students who are not married, at least 22, a military vet, or some other conditions to live on campus unless they live within a 30 mile radius with their family.  Students are not allowed to get apartments unless they meet one of the parameters.  At this point, my DD feels that living at home is the best option for her.  Fortunately, she already knows quite a few people at this school, so I don't think that her social life will suffer at all.  

 

OP-- In your situation, with the long commute, I would vote that your son find a way to live in the dorms if at all possible.  That long, stressful drive would get out really fast!

 

 

My son was a freshman last year and lived in the dorms at another school.  He is transferring.

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On 7/2/2019 at 4:21 AM, Miguelsmom said:

The state tuition isn't the problem. He has free state tuition and $300 book voucher. The problem is the $5k shortfall for the dorms and the fact working, while in school, may not be possible for him. Now if he can get scholarships to cover that $5k a year, which he is trying. then things will be different. I don't know if it is possible to do a 2 or 3 day schedule but that is something that make commuting more of an option if necessary.   He should be able to cover it with subsidized loans as he enters as a junior. Then we'll try paying whatever we can. $125 in loans can be figured out even with a part time job. I really don't like the unsub. loans and the fact if he doesn't pay it off in less then 10 years it's 1.5x the amount of the original loan. I don't like the ideas of loans at all let alone something that bad. I know "It's an investment" and it seems small but to us it's not. I guess if he takes out loans I could always require him to join americorp after for each year he takes out loans. I don't know it's a lot to figure out.  

 

 

 

Depending on location, Americorp workers often find it quite difficult to live on the stipend they are given. Although there is an education bonus at the end, it’s likely that many grads could make far more money and pay off their loans far more quickly by getting a regular job after graduation. The bonus is also taxable, just like regular income.

While I can understand not wanting him to have loans, if this school is really the best fit, $11k in loans seems very low to make it happen. The general rule of thumb is not to borrow more than you will make in your first year salary. And if he gets a good summer job, the amount he needs to borrow could be significantly less.

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Late to this party but I vote dorms for all the reasons given. 

Some other comments...

It seems awfully early for you to be making this decision.  Did I get it right that he is entering uni as a transfer student with an AA, in Fall 2020? I believe you said the uni wants him to choose dorm living now? That seems way farther in advance than I've ever heard. Most unis aren't even sending out acceptance letters that far ahead. 

As far as work-study...don't. Pay is poor, hours suck and your kid can probably make more working at the grocery store. I would say he probably can make enough just during the summer and not need to work during the year, honestly. Dd is working this summer as a 4day a week nanny and gigging 6 weekends and making a good 4K+. 

And honestly, 11K is not a big loan. If your son gets a job after graduation and makes a mere $15 an hour, that's somewhere around 24K a year take home. If he lives with you for a year and doesn't take on any other debt, he can probably pay off most of that in a year. That is not even applying his summer wages. If he makes, say, 3K a year in the summer (about $300 a week) and puts 2K of that towards the loan, he will have 4K paid off by graduation! And he will work in summer of 2020, before he starts, right? so there is another potential 2K. 

I would do the dorm for the first year and then re-evaluate, and perhaps move to an apartment. 

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1 hour ago, Chris in VA said:

Did I get it right that he is entering uni as a transfer student with an AA, in Fall 2020?

He's entering 2020 with an AA and AS. The AA immediately gets put towards his 36 gen. ed credits. because of the program he's going into the AS immediately puts him as a junior. with all his freshman / junior electives taken care of. So all he'll have left is his 300-400 level courses. I checked and matched them up and it works out. Even if he doesn't transfer as a high junior he'll still transfer as a junior (it's guaranteed here.)  

 

2 hours ago, Chris in VA said:

I believe you said the uni wants him to choose dorm living now?

No, We needed to figure out how to pay for living arrangements before applying. We weren't going to let him apply if there was no way we could cover the cost. See last year the plan was  to move in with my SIL and commute from there (15 min. commute) but she moved away.  He's now applied and we wait until October. If he does not get in as a FTIC student he will wait a semester and try as a transfer student. If he still does not get in he will look at other schools/majors. If he still does not get in then he will continue to get his BS in Technology at our local state school while living here.

Quote

Why isn't he just getting the BS at the local school?

It's a bunch of online management classes. He doesn't want to be a manager or take online classes. He wants to be "plugged in" to the campus. He currently doesn't mind the idea of never being in management it's just not his thing even if it pays a lot more. He'd be happy with entry-level and lower pay if it means not being the boss of anyone. He struggles with online classes too and even though his grades are good he doesn't retain much.

 

2 hours ago, Chris in VA said:

As far as work-study...don't.

Depending on the job he can earn up to $10/hr. However he may do better just doing freelance. Work study doesn't get counted against his FA when other income does. He'll have to be real selective with what he applys to. He has a 1:7 chance of getting hired for any FWS job.

 

2 hours ago, Chris in VA said:

If he lives with you for a year and doesn't take on any other debt, he can probably pay off most of that in a year.

There are very few jobs in my area for his major so he would be taking that long commute anyway if he lived with us and worked. 

 

3 hours ago, Chris in VA said:

. I would say he probably can make enough just during the summer and not need to work during the year, honestly.

I'm hoping he makes enough summers that he doesn't have to take out very many loans. Working summers would require a car though. He could use ours in the short run but I don't think he can afford the dorms AND a car.

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16 hours ago, Frances said:

Depending on location, Americorp workers often find it quite difficult to live on the stipend they are given. Although there is an education bonus at the end, it’s likely that many grads could make far more money and pay off their loans far more quickly by getting a regular job after graduation. The bonus is also taxable, just like regular income.

 

 

I can confirm this. My oldest did an Americorps gig for a year after graduation, and it would not have been financially doable if her husband did not have a full time job and we did not take on some of her expenses. The educational bonus is quite small, though she is glad to have it (better than nothing.) In her case it was worthwhile because she was not entirely sure about what she wanted to do for work, and taking on this position gave her enough experience to help her rule out one direction for her life :-) It was also probably better for her resume than working fast food or something similar.

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On 6/24/2019 at 4:47 PM, kand said:

Does anyone have positive commuter student experience? I have one who for various reasons is adamantly against anything but living at home next year. She will be a bus commuter, so at least she won’t be doing the driving herself. OTOH, that will make her commute take even longer. 


Me!    Of course when I try to envision levels of Hell, living in a dorm is about the second-level.    I am getting stressed just thinking about sharing my space with other people that I didn't select.  I truly don't understand how dorms could be a positive experience for anyone.  My friends that stayed in dorms have nothing good to say about it.  Their good stories are about how they cleverly survived something.  For example a friend that stayed in the jock dorm.  Super nice guy, so he was warned about what they would do to the freshman.   When the freshman was asleep someone with giant dangly bits would position the longest dangly bit near the face of the sleeping freshman to look compromising and then take a photo.   Friend made sure to pretend to sleep and have a really big knife nearby.   When they came in and got too close he pretended to wake up and then swung the knife around wildly and 'sleepily'.      He loves to tell the story, but would I want that for my son?   

I went to a large university that had a large commuter population.  Around the middle of my Sophomore year I was invited into the room dedicated to my major.   It was a hang-out room controlled by the students in the same building as the classes for that major.   Every major (that I know of) had one.   They usually had a full-size fridge, an ancient couch or two and some hand-me-down desks.   The one for my major was awesome.   It had two walls of windows which made it distracting for a classroom but awesome for our use.  There wasn't an official policy on the room.   If you went to the office and asked for a key and were that major, they'd give you one.  But, they didn't want it flooded with freshman that weren't serious so the students didn't tell new students about it right away.   But, if you asked, you were told.   After I was invited to the room, I was connected socially.   I was friends with older students in my major that could give me advice on professors, etc.   I had a home-away-from-home that was a short indoor walk from the majority of my classes.  Unofficially there was even 'my desk' in the room where I could leave my stuff.  

To be honest, even in hind-sight I am glad that I didn't connect socially the first year.   I was terrified of flunking out and studied constantly and was also saved from the freshman binge-drinking and dropping out. 
 

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On 7/1/2019 at 10:08 PM, 8FillTheHeart said:

I'm confused by a couple of things.

1- is it actually possible to earn a degree in under 2 yrs?  I know that for my kids' degrees they wouldn't have been able to b/c of pre-reqs and course sequences.  Too many of their required courses have been 300/400 level courses that have jr yr and sr yr sequence requirements.  They could have finished 100 DE credit hours and it wouldn't have made any difference at all in terms of their ability to graduate in under another 4 semesters.

 

 

Some universities allow degrees to be obtained in three semesters. While I expect the majority of people who do that are transfer students who actually started gaining credits at a different institution earlier (it sounds like Miguelsmom's son is an example due to the DE), very rarely, people do find courses where they somehow do all the credits at the university in the year-and-a-half. (This involved at least some of the material being effectively obtained on a credit-by-examination basis, with the studying done that semester in between attendence at lectures/seminars/labs that were considered unskippable for various reasons. I neither envy nor recommend such schedules).

Some universities and some courses make this impossible due to the pre-requisites and course sequences you mention.

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3 hours ago, ieta_cassiopeia said:

Too many of their required courses have been 300/400 level courses that have jr yr and sr yr sequence requirements. 

His pre-rec for his major is an AS degree. The 300/400 level courses have no pre-recs for the 7 major classes and 9 upper level electives. It'll still take him 2 years to get through.

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On 6/25/2019 at 6:29 AM, Miguelsmom said:

No he wouldn't have a car on campus. They have everything there including a publix.

Dorms with meal plan come to $11 k a year. So $11 k - car operating fees. So first year save maybe $3k. Second year save $6k.

We're unsure about a job because they say for every student job there's 7 applicants. We thought he'd only have to do 12 credits a semester but if he gets a scholarship through the university he's required to take 15 credits a semester or also attend summer semester. If the scholarship isn't $1,700 a year we won't accept it as it will cost him more to take those 2 extra classes.  He has some attention issues that make doing homework take all day/evening. Working 20 hrs a week may just not be in the cards for him while attending school. However he can work in the summers. 

This all sounds so much like my DD and our dilemma even down to the attention issues and almost exactly the same financials.  Originally I thought commute, but after touring and discussing, we've decided dorms too. 

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