Community at a price

To live or not to live Ð on campus, that is.

For some this choice carries little weight; first and second year students are required to live on campus.

UVM administrators stress the importance of community, engagement, safety and ease that comes from living on campus. Allegedly more fun and a vital college experience.

While those reasons are noble, the effects remain anything but.

Accoridng to CNN the national average debt for graduating college students reached $35,200. UVM has consistently remained in the top five most expensive public universities in the U.S.

Those studies exclude the cost of room and board: around $10,000 for students.

If one were to compare that to the cost of tuition, one would say that living on campus is equivalent to one-third to one-half of your education at UVM.

While these facts affect each student differently, it most burdens out-of-state students, who may have no other option but to live on campus.

There are exceptions to this.

I myself am an out-of-state student, but was fortunate enough to get one of my parents to move to Burlington so I wasnÕt forced to live on campus and add to my graduating debt.

Even with scholarships, financial aid, student loans, parent plus loans and selling our Illinois home, I would not have been able to pay for room and board at UVM.

I was one of the lucky ones; my parents were willing to sacrifice everything they had, such as their jobs and family.

ThatÕs not to say itÕs UVMÕs fault if a student cannot afford to attend. But it is a matter of ethics.

Would students prefer to have a slightly less community-focused education or pay $20,000 extra for on campus?

While it is arguable if living on campus is even worth that much, the fact of the matter is UVM doesnÕt really give you a choice.

UVM has a great opportunity to remedy this: abolish the residency requirement.

Give students a say in their college experience, a brief authority in controlling their debt.

Open the doors to students who cannot attend UVM due to this policy; if the University truly values diversity, this is an excellent way to encourage such.

The policy has just intentions, but the effects end up more profit-concerned.

DonÕt assume that living on campus is worth $10,000 for every student. There are students who believe it is. There are also students, both in-state and out-of-state, both on-campus and off-campus, who would passionately argue otherwise.

Sadly it is the latter who will suffer, who have to muster up another $20,000. Given the already growing national debt of college students, abolishing this policy is a step in the right direction.