Report Highlights. The average cost of room & board is $12,600 annually.
- For a full 4 years of college, the average cost of room & board is $50,380.
- The cost of room & board increases on average by $170 annually.
- The average cost of room & board at a public 4 year college is $12,050 annually.
- For a private 4 year college, the average cost of room & board is $13,910 annually.
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 $12,600.
- On average, 43% of an undergraduate’s annual charges at a 4-year university go to room and board.
- On average, 68% of an undergraduate’s annual charges at a 2-year university go 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||$8,060|
|Public 4-year College||$12,280|
|Private 2-year College||$10,790|
|Private 4-year College||$13,920|
Annual Increase in Room & Board
The average cost of room & board has risen nearly every year since 1990. The cost of room & board increases on average by $170 a year.
- In 1990, the average cost of room & board was $7,070 for public 4-year institutions when adjusted for inflation.
- By 2020, the average cost at public institutions grew to $12,820, an 81% increase from 1990.
- For private 4-year institutions, the average cost of room & board in 1990 was $8,750.
- By 2020, it rose to $14,450, a 65% increase.
Examples of College Room & Board Costs
Colleges may out-of-state students different rates for room & board; many also have varied prices for different residence halls depending on amenities. The prices listed here are the combined averages of each college’s dorm and meal plans.
- The University of Florida, for example, charges $3,020 a semester for a double room in its Broward residence hall and $4,080 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 37% of Ohio University’s total cost of attendance.
- At Cornell College, room & board account for 17% of the total cost of attendance.
|University of Pennsylvania||$18,500|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||$14,170|
|University of Florida||$10,830|
|Emporia State University||$10,090|
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 $12,050 annually.
- A master’s degree from a public 4-year university averages $11,310 annually for room & board.
- Room & board for a doctoral degree from a public 4-year university averages $12,880 annually.
- In a private 4-year university, room & board for a bachelor’s degree averages $13,910 annually.
- A master’s degree from a private 4-year university averages $13,180 annually for room & board.
- Room & board for a doctoral degree from a private 4-year university averages $16,000 annually.
- The table below averages the cost of degrees between public and private colleges.
|Degree||Average Cost of Room and Board Annually|
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 or the rest of the state.
- The most expensive state for room & board is New York at an average of $15,800 annually.
- The cheapest state for room & board is Utah at an average of $8,020 annually.
|State||Average Cost of Room & Board Annually|
|District of Columbia||$17,220|
Causes of Rising Room & Board Costs
Scholars have hypothesized that the increase in room & board may be the result of 4 scenarios.
- 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 has been offset by the number of discounts provided by institutions—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.
- National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Digits of Education Statistics
- University of Florida
- Emporia University, Admissions Costs
- Ohio University, Cost of Attendance
- Cornell College, Cost of Attendance
- Georgia Institute of Technology, Undergraduate Costs
- University of Pennsylvania, Undergraduate Cost of Attendance
- Colorado College, Cost of Attendance
- CollegeBoard, Trends in College Pricing
- Urban Institute, The Price of Room and Board