Crisis for the University Student: Changing Student Housing and Growing Cost Burden


  • Connor Wood
  • Dr. Claire Schuch



College cost burden and student debt are among the most pressing discussions in contemporary US society. This conversation has largely been focused on changes in tuition and fees. While this is important, over 60% of the college cost at four-year public institutions is housing. This substantial burden has already forced 35% of four-year college students to be housing insecure and 7% to be homeless (Baker-Smith et al., 2020). In order to address this, it is essential we understand the factors driving housing costs and its impacts on students. This paper assists in that goal by investigating changes in on- and off-campus housing costs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in recent years. Using tuition, fees, and on- and off-campus housing data from UNC Charlotte, we demonstrate that student housing cost increased by 6% on-campus and 20% off-campus between 2017 and 2019. We also collected survey data from 99 students. According to those results, 59% of students currently feel cost burdened by their housing cost and 88% would feel burdened if their rent increased. Students believed being part of a growing university and city attributed to increasing off-campus rents.

Keywords: housing, surveys, students, higher education, mixed-methods