Average Cost of Room & Board at College

Last Updated: September 15, 2021 by Melanie Hanson

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.   

Related reports include Average Cost of College | Average Cost of College Textbooks | Average Cost of Private School | Average Cost of a College Credit Hour | Average Cost of College by State      

Room vs Board on EducationData

Average Annual Cost of Room & Board 

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.
Cost of Room & Board by College Type
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

Annual Increase in Room & Board

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.

Average Cost of Room and Board 2010 to 2020 on EducationData

College Examples of Room & Board Costs

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. 
Room & Board by College
College Annual Cost
University of Florida $10,400
Emporia State University $8,149
Ohio University $11,862
Cornell College $10,556
Georgia Institute of Technology $12,246
University of Pennsylvania $17,304
Colorado College $13,668

Graduate School Differences in Room & Board Costs

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. 
Average Cost of Room & Board Public and Private College Combined
Degree Average Cost of Room and Board Annually
Bachelor’s $11,490
Master’s $11,520
Doctoral $13,520

Average State Cost of Room & Board 

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 by State Cost of Room & Board
State Average Cost of Room & Board annually
Alabama $11,215
Alaska $9,711
Arizona $10,535
Arkansas $11,215
California $14,033
Colorado $11,292
Connecticut $15,358
Delaware $14,173
Florida $11,215
Georgia $11,215
Hawaii $15,463
Idaho $11,292
Illinois $11,697
Indiana $11,697
Iowa $10,701
Kansas $10,701
Kentucky $11,215
Louisiana $11,215
Maine $14,665
Maryland $14,173
Massachusetts $15,448
Michigan $11,697
Minnesota $10,701
Mississippi $9,546
Missouri $10,701
Montana $11,292
Nebraska $10,701
Nevada $14,033
New Hampshire $14,665
New Jersey $14,173
New Mexico $10,535
New York $15,197
North Carolina $11,215
North Dakota $9,295
Ohio $11,697
Oklahoma $9,247
Oregon $14,033
Pennsylvania $14,173
Rhode Island $15,243
South Carolina $11,215
South Dakota $9,479
Tennessee $11,215
Texas $10,535
Utah $11,292
Vermont $14,665
Virginia $11,215
Washington $14,033
West Virginia $11,215
Wisconsin $11,697
Wyoming $11,292

Sources 

  1. Urban Institute: The Price of Room and Board 
  2. CollegeBoard: Trends in College Pricing 2020
  3. Edmit: How Much Will Room & Board Cost Where I Live? 
  4. Edmit: How Does Room and Board Affect the Cost of Attendance? 
  5. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Fast Facts – Tuition costs of colleges and universities 
  6. 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  
  7. The Hechinger Report: Think tuition is rising fast? Try room and board