Is Living on Campus Worth Costs?

Dayton North freshman dorm complex. Photo by Abbie Millman

According to Statista, in a city that often sees over 80,000 visitors from tourism per day, there is a constant struggle in convincing adolescents and young adults to reside in the heart of Las Vegas. According to the UNLV website, since its opening in 1957, the university has been working to remove its “commuter” label. 

From on-campus dorms to campus-adjacent apartments, UNLV offers a healthy variety of housing for its students. Still, a large percentage of students choose to drive up to an hour to campus every day.

From Henderson to Summerlin to North Las Vegas, the daily crowd of tourists that travel to Las Vegas could almost comically be compared to crowds of commuters from suburbia, who are also just looking to get the most out of their travels.

People pay shocking amounts of money to come to Las Vegas from all over the world, so why is it that local students are not willing to pay a fraction of that for dorm life in one of the nation’s most booming cities? anywhere from 30-45 minutes every day. “You really have to plan for it in everything you do, it’s not just ‘oh, I’m going to drive ten minutes out on the road and hang out with these people,’ it’s kind of like an hour-long thing. If I have an event at five, for example, I have to be ready by three to leave at four. It’s a little annoying.”

Wolfson then expressed she has been considering moving on campus in the future, as the more she gets involved in school and the older she gets the less likely she will want to commute and be at home.

One factor that must be taken into account when analyzing this is the student population at UNLV. Compared to many other large public universities in the nation, UNLV has a fairly unconventional student population.

While a solid portion of the population is composed of the traditional 18-22-year-old college student, UNLV has many mothers, fathers, veterans, older immigrants, and international students that attend classes each day.

The reality is that the older someone is, the easier it becomes to detach from campus. A mother of two working multiple jobs will ultimately be unlikely to see much appeal in campus dorm life the same way an 18-year-old fresh out of high school would.

“I feel like you’re a lot more involved when you’re living on campus. You can get involved in possibly Greek life or other organizations,” said Reece Murray, a student who resides in one of UNLV’s multiple dorm complexes. “You could have a single, but I guess it’s definitely not the same as being at home with your own room. Living with a roommate, it takes time to adjust. I’d say that’s the biggest problem.”

Murray described his plans for next semester to move out of the dorms and into an apartment complex near campus, as he believes the apartments offer many of the same benefits of close proximity (campus gym and class location) while having overall better accommodations.

However, in these upcoming school years, there will be an additional factor to take into consideration; price increases in housing and residential life. 

Comparing the tuition and college costs of 2022-2023 to 2023-2024, there is over a $600 increase alone in out-of-state undergraduate yearly tuition.

The price increases have been an ongoing trend, as there was already a 20.25% increase in tuition and living costs over a ten-year period between 2012-2022.

According to UNLV’s Residence Hall Association, this trend is set to continue throughout the next few school years up to the year 2027. These price increases include housing during the summer sessions, which rise from $668 for a single during one summer session in 2023-2024 to $773 in 2026-2027.

While the price increases are fueled by inflation and multiple housing goals such as furniture upgrades, security enclosures, paint upgrades, elevator upgrades, lock system upgrades, and rooftop AC units, the price increase is more impactful in disincentivizing students to live on campus than the upgrades are in encouraging campus living.

Consequently, many of the students residing on campus are either out-of-state or international students. If UNLV does not find additional resources to provide that students will not find at home, this likely will not change.

While the idea of staying on campus encourages student involvement, the costs ultimately are not worth it to students that enjoy the living and luxury of comfort at home, especially with UNLV’s below average school spirit.


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