Money Matters

When deciding where to live, the cost of rent was the number-one determining factor, according to a 2019 survey of Minnesota State University students who reside off-campus.


The rent amount is not the only thing that students should budget for, though. The same survey asked students to report their average monthly expenses, and the following figures (average) were reported:

Item Cost
Rent $456.38
Electricity Bill* $39.02
Water Bill* $8.86
Cable/Internet* $23.87
Laundry* $8.23
Groceries for Home $132.61
Dining Out $75.99
Fuel for Car $58.63
Cell Phone $35.87
Entertainment $37.83
Other Transportation $10.95
Other Necessities $54.47
TOTAL $942.71

*Some property managers or complexes may include this feature in the cost of rent, so there may be no additional cost incurred for these items.

When budgeting or working on financial matters pertaining to housing, keep the following in mind:

  • Financial aid awards can be used for both on-campus and off-campus housing expenses.
  • When you live on campus, your contract is for the time period beginning on move-in day and ending on the last day of final exams in the Spring semester. This is about 9 ½ months. When you decide to live off campus, most leases are for 12 months, with no summer break built in and no exception for students who may graduate in May. You should plan on incurring most of the expenses noted above for 12 months. You should be sure that you understand what utilities and amenities are covered in your rent and which ones you will be billed separately for.
  • An additional expense may be the application fee some property managers will assess. Watch for specials, as they are offered frequently.
  • Negotiate. Some property managers, especially those leasing homes or duplexes, may budge a little on rental amounts. It can’t hurt to ask. Keep in mind that some perceive that there will be a shortage of student housing. This may drive rental amounts higher. We don’t anticipate a shortage, although not all students may be able to get their first choice of apartments.
  • Advertised rental amounts are subject to change based on supply and demand. It is not uncommon for our office to be notified of several changes by the same property manager during a rental period.
  • You can control these expenses, but it may take self-control! Students are often surprised by how much they spend on dining out. Many resolve to save by cooking on their own, but busy schedules, pressure from friends, and the convenience of no work and no mess often get the best of students! Check out this Healthy Eating on a Budget demo.