Housing is often a college student’s largest expense besides tuition, leading students with family living close by to sacrifice a social life for free rent at Mom and Dad’s.
The cost for a single student to live at Helaman Halls with the Dining Plus meal plan is approximately $7,500 for fall and winter semesters. Likewise, fall and winter will cost about $4,500 to get a new shared room at Heritage Halls with the minimum amount of dining dollars, according to the BYU housing website.
Tyler Perkins, a BYU graduate, lived with his grandpa for a semester his freshman year before leaving on a mission. He decided the money he would save was worth more than the on-campus social life.
Looking back, Perkins said he loved living with his grandpa and was glad to develop a close relationship he might have missed had he lived on campus. He was also able to learn how to live with extended family.
“I learned how to actively help my grandpa,” Perkins said. “I wanted to make sure I looked for ways to ease his work load since he was providing free rent.”
Perkins, now married, advised other students to do the same. “Don’t be a dead weight, and make an effort to interact with your family.”
While he is glad for the relationship he developed with his grandpa, Perkins recommended that future freshmen find a way to live on campus.
“For an incoming freshman, I would recommend living on campus; much more of a social life,” Perkins said. “I didn’t really get any sort of social experience my first semester at BYU, living off campus.”
Tessa Lane is a Texas resident and potential BYU student. When asked about her plans for attending BYU, she said the dorms were a large part of her excitement.
“I know they are expensive, but that is something my parents and I have planned for, and if I need to take out a loan to help pay for it, then that is what I will do,” Lane said. “I have seen my older siblings go and have the best time ever, and that is the type of experience I want to have.”
Laura Padilla-Walker, a professor who researches parenting and media influences during adolescence and emerging adulthood, said the reasons a student chooses to live at home are important.
“Research generally suggests that students who live away from home during college have better relationships with their parents, but this could be for a variety of reasons,” Padilla-Walker said. “If children already have a good relationship with parents and they live home during school, that probably doesn’t have lasting negative consequences. But if they’re staying home because they don’t want to take care of themselves or if parents are forcing them to stay home so they can maintain control, this probably does result in problems.”
Married students consider living with family. A one-bedroom apartment at Wymount Terrace costs about $5,600 for fall and winter semesters, plus power and electricity. A two-bedroom apartment at Wyview Park will put a married couple back $6,570, not counting electricity, according to the BYU housing website.
Sara and Tim Cooper lived with Sara’s parents for nine months after getting married. While attending BYU full time, they were grateful for the generosity of her parents, but they learned that it was important to establish themselves as their own family unit.
“When you live with family it can feel like there is somewhat of a lack of independence, which is hard when you first get married,” Sara Cooper said. “I would suggest doing all the things you would if you weren’t living with family: make your own grocery list, dinner menu, have family home evening, spend time in your apartment together, go on dates, etc.”
While Tim Cooper was also grateful for the money they were able to save and the privacy they received, he said the amount of time spent living with in-laws was key.
“Do not live there for an extended period of time, and only live there if there is no better option. You need to learn how to be independent as a couple and cling to each other, not your parents, ” he said.
While many students would rather not live with family, some parents welcome the idea.
“If I lived near a university, I would love to have my kids or grandkids live with me while they attended school,” said Elaine King, a Dallas resident and mother of three BYU graduates.
She said the ability to help them financially would bring her great joy, but she understands a child’s need for privacy and independence from home.
“I do think it’s good for independence for children to live away from home if possible, but you need to weigh this with actually finishing school,” Padilla-Walker said.
According to some of the research done by Padilla-Walker, one of the biggest reasons students drop out of school is because they don’t have enough money and need to work.
“It’s always important to keep in mind that every child is very different and may benefit from a different situation,” Padilla-Walker said. “If possible, I think children should be encouraged to live in the dorms or an apartment so they can practice being an adult and work on independence. But there are ways they can do this staying at home as well.”