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Saturday, December 7, 2019

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Campus living costs don’t meet reality


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Despite the benefits of living on-campus in places such as Calhoun Lofts, some students find that the cost is too much. | Henry Sturm/The Cougar

Civil engineering doctoral senior Maruti Mudunuru only stayed on campus for one year.

Although he received a $2,000 monthly research stipend, it was still not enough to cover costs that included books and other personal costs while living in Calhoun Lofts.

“I was quite on the budget,” Mudunuru said. “I thought I could save money with the stipend and relax a bit, but the stipend and cost of living was not proportionate.”

After that first year, he moved off-campus, near Bissonnet street.

“I was able to save around $300 from the cost of living (with) the stipend I used,,” Mudunuru said. “Now I can buy books for my education, and I can save some money to go out or something. I’m fine right now.”

A study found that some colleges under or over-estimate the cost of living on their campuses. For UH, the estimated cost was $14,256,  but the real cost was $16,100, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Mara Affre, associate vice chancellor and associate vice president for enrollment services, said that the University uses the Expected Family Contribution, a system in which the school puts together the costs of attendance.

“We determine all of that through a variety of means depending on the different categories, and then we come up with the total costs of what it would be to attend the University of Houston for that upcoming year,” she said.

“Budgets could vary depending on the student’s situation: an in-state, on-campus, off-campus at home, or off-campus in an apartment of some sort. In addition, there is the same budget for non-resident students. So in a sense, we have six different student budgets.”

There is more to living on-campus than finance, according to Affre. Students have access to programs and community building and are better connected to their university.

“The more connected you are, research shows the better you do in your classes, and the more likely you are to graduate on time, so all of those things are connected to living on campus,” Affre said. “Once a student moves off campus, they don’t have as strong a connection to activities and such, (which) we know lead to general success both in terms of grades and persistence.”

Mudunuru said had he received a bigger stipend or would have been able to afford housing on campus, he would have stayed another year. He also recommended new students to stay on campus as well, at least for the first semester; they can explore UH better than a commuter.

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