By Ashlyn Webb, University of Georgia

The choice between living on campus or off campus is a decision several rising sophomores at the University of Georgia must make when figuring out their housing for the next year.

All first-year students at UGA are required to live on campus with the exception of those students who are from neighboring counties. They are allowed to live at home.

Jade Adhola, a junior at UGA, has decided to live on campus for the third year in a row, explaining that she’s stayed on campus because of the proximity to her classes.

“I just love it. I can walk, bike or take a university bus to class…and the biggest thing is that I don’t have to wake up earlier,” Adhola said.

It’s also convenient because of dining halls, libraries, and the student center being walking distance from home, she said.

In the long run, living on campus saves her time, she added.

“If you live off campus and have a big gap in your schedule, like an hour and a half, you may not have time to go home and get work done,” Adhola said. “For me, I can just go home during a break in classes and be productive.”

Adhola says she also saves time by not having to clean. Custodial services clean community bathrooms twice a day. For individual bathrooms, they clean once a week.

Adhola said all these benefits is why she chooses to live on campus; however, she says it’s also about personal finances.

The residence hall Adhola chose to live in this year is between $3,691-$3,962 a semester which is about $738.20-$786.40 a month.

“I think it really depends on where you’re at financially,” Adhola said. “[Living on campus] is slightly more expensive than some of the cheaper options off campus, but cheaper than other options. I think for how close it is to campus, it’s not that expensive.”

Jermaine Durham, the director of the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing, agrees that living on campus is a good option for students.

“I think it has a lot to do with living in a place where you are closer to services, closer to the things you need,” Durham said. “A student’s world is the university.”

He said it may be cheaper to live farther off campus in terms of rent. However, when you factor in transportation, it may not be as cheap in some cases.

Additionally, students can often use scholarship funds towards covering university housing costs.

Durham says the topic of whether on-campus housing is affordable came up in one of his housing courses.

“Students will argue no. On-campus housing is not affordable,” Durham said. “A lot of students here are working and are still having a hard time making ends meet.”

Durham says, in turn, this can affect a student’s academics.

The cheapest dorm on the University of Georgia’s campus is $2,967 a semester, or $593 a month. This figure includes all expenses such as water, electricity and gas utility bills. Overall, this is less than the average median rent in Athens, which is $815 a month, according to the 2018 U.S. Census estimates.

Durham noted that students overall are considered as a low-income population.

“They live on a very fixed income which, often times, groups like the young and the old are the ones that suffer from that the most,” Durham said.

Durham says the amount of income a student has, in addition to if they have financial assistance, will allow them to be able to take advantage of certain housing options.

“It’s really rooted in the less income you have, the less options you have,” Durham said.

He said that in terms of personal finance, housing is the first thing individuals have to spend their money on. Durham advises students to weigh their options, consider how much they want to spend on rent and also factor in the cost of transportation.

Ashlyn Webb is a journalism major in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.