What’s the Average Dorm Cost?

College costs and tuition vary dramatically across the United States. Private colleges tend to have higher tuition than their public counterparts. The same goes for the cost of living in a college dorm. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average dorm cost for a 4-year college is around $11,520 for public institutions and $13,028 for private colleges.

Housing is a large cost you’ll incur during college, so we’ve broken down a few things to help you better understand dorm costs. 

dorms in college.

Debating On-Campus vs. Off-Campus?

Some colleges require that students live on campus all four years, while others require students to live on campus for a certain number of years. Other schools don’t require students to live on campus at all. When choosing the college that is right for you, it is important to consider housing and accommodation costs and where you would rather be, on-campus or off.

How Much Does a College Dorm Cost?

The average dorm cost for a 4-year college in the US ranges from around $11,520 – $13,028 per year. While the average dorm cost for a 2-year college in the US is around $7,063 – $11,720 per year.

No origination fees or prepayment penalties

Fixed rates from 3.95% - 8.01% APR with auto-debit

Learn More

Average College Housing Cost Per Year For On-Campus and Off-Campus in the US

Type of Institution On-Campus Average Off-Campus Average
Public 4-year institutions $11,520 $11,365
Private, non-profit 4-year institutions  $13,028 $11,269
Private, for-profit 4-year institutions $32,895 $8,543
Public 2-year institutions $7,063 $10,229
Private, non-profit 2-year colleges $11,720 $11,365
Private, for-profit 2-year institutions $9,136 $9,062

Factors That May Impact Dorm Costs

The cost of dorm living can vary significantly depending on different factors, such as the location of the college, the type of dorm (i.e. single versus double), and other amenities that may be provided in the dorm building. 

Other On-Campus Living Expenses

Outside of room and board, there are a few other living expenses to consider. These expenses are normally not included in the initial cost of dorm living even though they are still associated with living on campus. These include:

Tips for Managing Dorm Costs

  • Financial Aid & Scholarships. Financial aid and scholarships may help to offset the cost of dorm living. Be sure to explore these options to see if you qualify for any assistance. 
  • Think about becoming an RA. As a resident assistant, you enforce school policies in the living spaces, put together social gatherings, and help mediate any issues between residents in the dorm Being an RA comes with a fair amount of responsibility. But, it also has the huge benefit of free housing. Find out if this is an option for you.
  • Explore Off-Campus Housing. Depending on your financial situation, personal preferences, and the college you choose, you may find that off-campus housing is more cost-effective. Don’t forget to factor in transportation costs if you choose this option.
  • Look for a Roommate. Some colleges may have lower housing costs for students who choose to have one or more roommates. If you’re comfortable with a roommate, this may be a more cost-effective option.

The cost of dorm living is an important cost to consider when planning for college. While the average dorm cost may vary, it’s good to look at the specific dorm options and expenses at the colleges you are interested in. By carefully considering your budget and knowing your school’s cost, you can make informed decisions about your college living arrangements.

Looking for scholarships to help you cover expenses such as room and board? Discovering these opportunities is a breeze with College Raptor. Simply begin your search today with the Scholarship Search Tool!


Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Citizens logo.
6.97%-15.03%* Variable
5.99%-14.00%* Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Sallie Mae logo.
6.37% - 16.70% Variable
4.50% - 15.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
4.98% - 16.70% Variable
4.07% - 15.66% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
6.07% - 11.31% Variable
4.39% - 10.39% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
6.22% - 16.08% Variable
4.09% - 15.66% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.54% - 11.08% Variable
3.95% - 8.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
5.62% - 18.26% Variable
4.11% - 15.90% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
4.98% - 12.79% Variable
8.42% - 13.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.