This weekend I learned a bit about student living so I thought I would share my new wisdom with you guys.
Saturday night I learned about Student Co-ops. According to the College Houses website, the basic idea is that, “The membership pools its money and labor to provide shelter, amenities, food, fellowship and an academic environment. The consolidation of member efforts results in affordable housing and a living environment that teaches life skills for the future.”
Co-ops are owned and run by the students who live in them. Everyone’s rent is pooled together to pay for living expenses and for partial ownership of the house, so none of the money goes to a landlord. The co-op then uses the money to pay for utilities and buy groceries in bulk.
The College Houses co-ops require each member to contribute 4 hours of labor a week either in the kitchen, on the grounds, or doing maintenance. ICC co-ops only require the members to help prepare group dinners.
The fee for College Houses co-ops is approximately $5,000 combined for the Fall and Spring semester. This includes 17 meals a week and furnished rooms. Between the seven houses there are 532 members.
To live in an ICC co-op costs also costs about $5,000 for the Fall and Spring semester, but the rooms are not furnished and dinner is the only meal prepared for entire houses. Between its nine houses there are 188 members.
The big selling point with co-ops is clearly how cheap they are. In fact they are about $3,500 less an academic year than the average UT dorm rate, which is approximately $8,500. Granted this $8,500 includes $1,400 in Dine in Dollars, which I can tell you from experience is more than enough, that can be used at four different dining venues and $300 in Bevo Bucks that can be used dozens of places both on and off campus. Also, all dorms are completely furnished. Between the 14 dorms there are 7,000 residents.
My knowledge of West Campus is not substantial enough to give you an average cost of living for the academic year, but I can tell you that it’s costing me about $7,500 for the 2009-2010 year to live in a West Campus apartment when you include rent, food, utilities, cable, and internet.
All in all, co-ops sound like a pretty good deal but I must warn you that the reason I started looking into co-ops in the first place is that my purse was stolen at a party hosted by the Pearl Street co-op, which is operated through College Houses. So, living a co-op might be cheap, but not if you have to replace all of your stolen property!