Undegrads have to earn $72,000 to afford rent in some college towns, new study finds
With nationwide rental prices at new heights, undergraduates are feeling the pinch.
A new study from InMyArea shows that college students living in the country's most expensive college towns—where rents can stretch to nearly $1,900 per bedroom per month—need to make $72,000 to live comfortably.
Of the top 22 most expensive college towns in the U.S., 19 are in California or the Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C. Rents in these college towns range from $1,250 a month per bedroom to $1,829 per month.
To calculate this number, IMA used the assumed rule that housing shouldn't exceed 30% of one's monthly budget.
"As most students know, teaming up with roommates can significantly reduce costs," according to the report. "The average price per bedroom in a college town drops by about half for those willing to share a three-bedroom place instead of living alone."
In the most affordable college towns—which are mainly in Ohio and Kentucky—students would need to earn an annual salary of $10,300-$14,100 to afford the average rental cost of about $300 per month.
Making $72,000 per year to comfortably afford to live in the nation's most expensive college towns is no small feat for anyone, let alone a college student.
What's causing soaring rental prices?
Short answer: Supply and demand.
Longer answer: Many college towns are situated in rural areas of the country, which lack the housing supply and infrastructure to accommodate larger numbers of students.
"This has become an issue that universities have been grappling with much more in the last five years," said Gary Painter, academic director of the University of Cincinnati's real estate program. "What you didn't see is the building of housing in those communities."
Some schools in high-rent college towns – like the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)—are working to guarantee four-year housing for undergraduates who come in as freshmen.
The school recently added 540 beds for an average cost of $600 per month— anywhere from 13-42% less than other nearby options—and has capped room and board rates at increases of 2.5% for undergrads and 3% for graduate students each year.
That's a ray of light at the end of the tunnel—but so far, these programs are more of an exception than a rule.