Report Highlights. The average cost of room & board is $12,370 annually.
- For a full 4 years of college, the average cost of room & board is $49,480.
- The cost of room & board increases on average by $250 annually.
- The average cost of room & board at a public 4 year college is $11,620 annually.
- For a private 4 year college, the average cost of room & board is $13,120 annually.
The cost of room & board refers to the price of housing and the price of a meal plan while a student lives on a college campus. The average annual cost of room & board sometimes has an inverse relationship with the annual cost of tuition. If the price of tuition drops, colleges occasionally raise the rates of room & board to make up for lost revenue.
- The average cost of room & board annually is $12,370.
- On average, 31% of an undergraduate’s annual budget at a 4-year university goes to room and board.
- On average, 49% of an undergraduate’s annual budget at a 2-year university goes to room and board.
- The table below assumes the cost of room & board for in-state and out-of-state students is the same.
|Type of College||Annual Cost of Room and Board|
|Public 2-year College||$9,080|
|Public 4-year College||$11,620|
|Private 4-year College||$13,120|
The average cost of room & board has risen every year since the year 2000. Scholars have hypothesized that the increase in room & board may be the result of 4 scenarios.
- The cost of room & board increases on average by $250 a year.
- The 1st scenario states that the increase in room & board comes from increased spending on campus amenities.
- The 2nd scenario states that the increase in room & board comes from the overall increase in the cost of living.
- The 3rd scenario contends that the increase in room & board have been offset by the number of discounts – allowing room & board costs to rise even further.
- The 4th scenario argues that room & board costs have been increased to offset the colleges’ loss of revenue from other sources.
- In 1990, the average cost of room & board was $5,700 in public 4-year institutions – by 2016 the average cost grew to $9,800.
- For private 4-year institutions, the average cost of room & board in 1990 was $7,400 – by 2016 it rose to $11,600.
Certain colleges charge out-of-state students different rates for room & board – but most do not. Many colleges have several residence halls and offer different prices for each one depending on amenity. The prices listed below are the combined averages of each college’s dorms and meal plans.
- The University of Florida for example charges $2,767 a semester for a double room in its Broward residence hall and $3,735 a semester for a double suite in its Cypress hall.
- Room & board account for different percentages of the total cost of attendance across many universities.
- For example, room & board account for 69% of Gordon State College’s total cost of attendance.
- At Cornell College, room & board account for 18% of the total cost of attendance.
|University of Florida||$10,400|
|Emporia State University||$8,149|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||$12,246|
|University of Pennsylvania||$17,304|
The cost of room & board varies by degree level. In general, private colleges charge more for room & board at all degree levels compared to public colleges.
- Room & board for a bachelor’s degree from a public 4-year university averages $10,840 annually.
- A master’s degree from a public 4-year university averages $10,680 annually for room & board.
- Room & board for a doctoral degree from a public 4-year university averages $12,110 annually.
- In a private 4-year university, room & board for a bachelor’s degree averages $12,140 annually.
- A master’s degree from a private 4-year university averages $12,360 annually for room & board.
- Room & board for a doctoral degree from a private 4-year university averages $14,930 annually.
- The table below averages the cost of degrees between public and private colleges.
|Degree||Average Cost of Room and Board Annually|
Certain regions of the United States have higher average costs for room & board than others. States within the southwest had colleges with the cheapest prices for room & board. New England states had the colleges with the most expensive listings for room & board.
- The average cost of campus housing is not always comparable with the cost of regular housing throughout the local area nor the rest of the state.
- The most expensive state for room & board is Hawaii at an average of $15,358 annually.
- The cheapest state for room & board is Oklahoma at an average of $9,247 annually.
|State||Average Cost of Room & Board annually|
- Urban Institute: The Price of Room and Board
- CollegeBoard: Trends in College Pricing 2020
- Edmit: How Much Will Room & Board Cost Where I Live?
- Edmit: How Does Room and Board Affect the Cost of Attendance?
- National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Fast Facts – Tuition costs of colleges and universities
- National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Table 330.10. Average undergraduate tuition and fees and room and board rates charged for full-time students in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level and control of institution: Selected years, 1963-64 through 2019-19
- The Hechinger Report: Think tuition is rising fast? Try room and board