UMKC students weigh pros, cons of living on and off campus

Johnson Hall, Oak Street Hall and Hospital Hill are the available dorms on campus for students. (UMKC)

Tate Donohue

Housing is a big decision for most students these days, and there are plenty of options available. Dorm rooms, apartment complexes, off-campus houses and living at home are just some of the choices students face.

For Keenan Randolph, a junior at UMKC, his choice involved moving three hours away from home so he could go to school in Kansas City. Randolph chose to live in an apartment with his friend that is only 10 minutes away from campus, and he says he loves it.

“It’s given me a lot of freedom to move out on my own, it also made me appreciate all that my parents did for me that I didn’t realize,” Randolph said.

The choices for students looking to live on campus come down to three resident halls: Johnson Hall, Oak Street Hall and Hospital Hill, though freshmen are allowed to live on Hospital Hill.

Lucas Rodriguez, a freshman at UMKC, is originally from Smithville, MO, a 30-minute drive north of campus. He chose to live on campus this year and currently resides in Johnson Hall.

“I enjoy the proximity to everything, the sense of community, and there’s always new people to meet,” Rodriguez said.

He said the only negative thing about living on campus is the cost, although he is considering continuing living off-campus his sophomore year as well.

This year, the cost to live on campus ranges from $7,378 – $12,210, depending on what style of room you are looking for. While an off-campus apartment will charge you rent once a month, on-campus housing costs are split into two payments, one at the beginning of each semester.

Like Rodriguez, cost is a large negative factor for many students. According to a 2020 survey conducted by UMKC, 62% of the 1,000 respondents said that the cost of on-campus housing was either unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory. 

Simultaneously, rent prices in Kansas City have been going up in recent years, and the average cost of rent is approximately $1,000 per month. This means that students in off-campus housing pay the equivalent of $10,000 for the same period as on-campus housing, though this figure doesn’t account for rent-sharing arrangements.

Shawna Wilson, a sophomore at UMKC, has lived in both a dorm and an off-campus apartment. She says she enjoyed the convenience of living on campus but prefers being independent.

“I like feeling like I’m on my own, in a dorm I felt like I was always being monitored,” Wilson said. 

Students living in a dorm are also required to purchase a meal plan at the UMKC dining hall. This will set students back an additional $1,700 – $2,000 dollars per semester, depending on which plan they choose.

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