Unaffordable living

International students will find cheaper off-campus housing

When it comes to finding a place to live year-round, it is more affordable to live off-campus. UMBC offers on campus housing, but international students look elsewhere.

For the majority of students, going home for the holidays is a relatively inexpensive trip. However for many international students this is not the case. Whether it is for financial, academic or work-related reasons, there are a good number of international students who need 12-month housing, and living off-campus is the most economically sound option.

In fact, it may be best that UMBC does not heavily advertise its 12-month on-campus housing plan. It is common knowledge among UMBC students that live in the dorms, let alone the apartments, that on-campus housing can be quite costly. Especially since it is also mandatory to have a meal plan if one is staying in the dorms.

This meal requirement is not pinned onto on-campus apartment residents, and UMBC does offer 12-month housing via Walker Apartments.

Students also have the option of getting 9-month housing in any of the apartments or Potomac Hall and some parts of Harbor Hall, then applying for summer housing in the Terrace apartments. While this option may work for some, it ultimately seems too costly and complicated.

As a Maryland resident, these expenses can seem pretty crazy, and without scholarships, the college loans can get to be pretty steep. Now imagine the expenses for an international student — even more crazy.

On average, the cost of living in a dorm with continuous occupancy (9-month housing) and the minimum meal plan is approximately $1170 per month. The cost of living in the apartments, which all offer 9-month housing, but do not require a meal plan averages at about $775 per month.

Going off campus, the prices get much more reasonable. Off-campus housing near UMBC can vary from $250 to $600 per month. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the average monthly cost of food per person is $302.

Not only does off-campus housing give international students more choices, it is obviously much cheaper. Furthermore, a large number of off-campus housing can be found near or on the UMBC shuttle bus route, which is free for students.

There are also many grocery stores and shopping centers located on the UMBC bus routes. From Giant on Wilkens Avenue to the Walmart in Arbutus to the Dollar Tree less than 2 miles from campus, there are affordable grocery options within close proximity.

According to UMBC’s English Language Institute’s (ELI) website, “many ELI students live off campus in the neighborhoods around UMBC.”

Nonetheless, one of the perks of being a college student is having the option to devour down True Grits, and during intense and busy semesters, this can be a very appealing perk. If students wish, they can purchase a meal plan which range from $221 to $2093.

Jaelyn Bos, a sophomore majoring in environmental science, said, “I think UMBC should work with international students to ensure that they are supported year round.”

Even if on-campus 12 month housing is an unaffordable option, UMBC should make sure that international students have choices that fall within their means. UMBC already offers this resource through off-campus housing websites, but more could be done to let people know about the service.

International students have the options of on- or off-campus 12-month housing. With the current costs for on-campus housing, a year round plan would be overly expensive compared to sharing off-campus housing that falls on the UMBC bus route with other UMBC students.