College Housing Costs Rise with Tuition, but Get Less Attention

DAVIS -- Students and their families have long known that housing can equal or even surpass the cost of tuition at UC Davis and other state college campuses.

Grad student Jarrett Wilcoxen says most of his student loans at Davis and UC Santa Barbara were for housing.

"Over the course of a year, that's about $15,000, which is about what UC student fees are," Wilcoxen told FOX40.

Students are not surprised that the average cost of on-campus room and board is listed at nearly $17,000 annually.

Administrators say it's a weighted average that may not apply to all students.

"Our rates actually start as low as $1,300 and they go up from there," UCD Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Emily Galindo said.

That still isn't exactly a bargain, but the university points out that on-campus housing gives students access to education programs and transitional help for new students living alone for the first time, and plenty of food and living arrangement options.

"They can live in a single room, a double room or a triple room and you combine those factors together and that’s what drives the cost," Galindo said.

Davis is expanding its offerings with new residence halls under construction. West Village is a new, 2,500 bed complex run by an operator contracted by the university.

But the cost of quality housing makes it tough for many students.

"If you come from a low-income family and you're a first-generation college student, it's really tough to balance school life and trying to afford housing," student Evelyn Pena said.

College housing rates are rising along with tuition, but get far less attention.

"Our rate increase from last year to this year is about 3.5 percent," Galindo said. "So what we do is we work very hard to see that rate increase is within reason."

The vast majority of students live off campus, where the average housing costs $9,700 a year -- and that often comes with commuting costs.

"It's pretty much known around here that Davis is expensive to live in," Wilcoxen told FOX40. "That's why I live in Sacramento instead of Davis."