It’s that time when college application season is in full swing, and like everything else these days, student living expenses are costing up to $28,720 per year.
A new report on 2022’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities in America, may help you and your offspring determine the town and city to look into for better living conditions in these difficult times.
To help college-bound high school seniors determine their future home for the next several years, WalletHub compared more than 400 U.S. cities – also grouped by city size – based on 30 key indicators of academic, social, and economic growth potential. The data set ranges from the cost of living to the quality of higher education to the crime rate.
|Best Large College Cities*||Best Midsize College Cities*||Best Small College Cities*|
|1. Austin, TX||1. Orlando, FL||1. Ann Arbor, MI|
|2. Tampa, FL||2. Gainesville, FL||2. Provo, UT|
|3. Raleigh, NC||3. Scottsdale, AZ||3. Oxford, OH|
|4. Pittsburgh, PA||4. Irvine, CA||4. West Lafayette, IN|
|5. Seattle, WA||5. Tempe, AZ||5. Rexburg, ID|
|6. Atlanta, GA||6. Salt Lake City, UT||6. College Station, TX|
|7. Miami, FL||7. Reno, NV||7. Orem, UT|
|8. Columbus, OH||8. Madison, WI||8. Chapel Hill, NC|
|9. Las Vegas, NV||9. Boise, ID||9. Ithaca, NY|
|10. Cincinnati, OH||10. Charleston, SC||10. Princeton, NJ|
Best vs. Worst
- Richmond, Virginia, has the lowest cost of a two-bedroom apartment rental, $732 per month, which is 4.4 times lower than in San Francisco and Daly City, California, the cities with the highest at $3,198 per month.
- Brownsville, Texas, has the lowest cost-of-living index for young people, 75.32, which is three times lower than in Stanford, California, the city with the highest at 224.59.
- Savannah, Georgia, has the lowest cost of higher education, $17,414 per year, which is 4.7 times lower than in Evanston, Illinois, the city with the highest at $81,283 per year.
- Stony Brook University, New York, has the most enrolled students (per 1,000 residents), 952, which is 23.2 times more than in Cape Coral, Florida, the city with the fewest at 41.
Here’s some more help to aid in your decision
How can parents prepare their children for managing finances in college (student loans, credit cards, etc.)?
“Learning to pay for some of your expenses and developing sound financial literacy are the first steps of adulting. At times that also includes making important decisions about how much student debt you are willing to carry. If a graduate school or post-baccalaureate education is part of your plans, and you know that many professional and graduate education programs are only possible via loans, then it is important to complete your bachelor’s degree with as little debt as possible,” said Alexander Jun, Ph.D., a professor at Azusa Pacific University.
“Parents should steer their children away from expensive, so-called ‘luxury’ student housing and encourage them to live in a dorm for at least a couple of years. Students should not take out loans to finance an unsustainable luxury lifestyle while they are in college. And parents do their children no favors by giving their kids fancy cars and unlimited access to credit cards. College students need to live on a budget while in school because they will undoubtedly be constrained by a budget after they graduate. Loading a debit card with a fixed monthly spending limit will teach students to manage their budget,” according to Richard Fossey, J.D., Ph.D., and professor emeritus, at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
In deciding which university to attend, how important is the surrounding city/town?
“The surrounding community in addition to the overall geographic location of the college is a very important part of the decision-making process. Students do not spend all their time on a college campus but are regularly around the neighboring cities. Take the weather for example. If you are from a state without four distinct seasons, then the first snowy winter can become a very difficult part of your life adjustment. Ethnic, cultural, and political representation are significant factors as well,” Jun added.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of going to college in-state vs. out-of-state?
“Going to college out of state is often a good idea. Going to another state to study exposes the student to a larger world. For example, kids from small midwestern towns can benefit from living in a more lively urban environment. Out-of-state tuition is higher than in-state tuition at public universities, which is a drawback. But public colleges across America are recruiting out-of-state students aggressively, and young people with good academic credentials (high ACT scores, good grades, etc.) have a very good chance of getting a scholarship,” Fossey said.
“Attending a local college has some practical advantages. If you are within driving or commuting distance, for example, you can bring laundry home regularly! Travel back home on long weekends is doable since expensive flights are not part of the financial equation,” Jun said.