Housing Crunch

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While annually rising college tuition is regularly reported in the news, frequently prompting much concern and discussion, few families discuss increasing housing costs. Yet, depending on the city where the college campus is located and the availability of on-campus housing, where to live can quickly create additional costs, both in opportunity and financially for undergraduates. 

First, for young adults who likely have never secured their own housing, they often add stress from their annual housing search, which can include the complex politics of partnering with friends to share housing in order to reduce the costs

And, as housing costs rise around the country, reducing stock of affordable housing and more locals may be renting what is affordable and previously college student appropriate apartments, then many students are searching further and further away from campuses, only increasing costs for transportation and commuting. 

Furthermore, in California, according to Inside Higher Ed

A recent report from California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office found that in fall 2021, the California State University system had a total of 8,700 students on housing wait lists at 13 campuses. 

March 29, 2022

Students would be prudent to ask about the likelihood of securing on-campus housing, for at least the first year, and the difficulties of renting off-campus housing in subsequent years. 

While UCLA recently promised four years of guaranteed on-campus housing for all incoming first year students in the Class of 2026, and two years for transfer students, not every University of California (UC) campus or private university offers such guarantees. 

For the UC system, that number [waitlisted students] came out to 7,500 students on eight campuses.

Inside Higher Ed, March 29, 2022

And, the California Legislative Analysts’ Office counts may have been lower than actual numbers of students wanting housing, but unable to secure an on-campus bed, pushing them into the local community to find housing. 

Fresh data provided to Inside Higher Ed by both university systems found even higher numbers: an unmet demand of 17,819 beds at Cal State and 12,816 students wait-listed for housing in the UC system.

March 29, 2022

Additionally, given the Cal State system only provides beds for approximately 11% of all students, while a third of all UC students can have a bed, many students are left to arrange their own housing. 

The Cal State system—which enrolls nearly 500,000 students—reported that it currently has 59,260 beds at its 23 campuses. The UC System has 106,224 total beds. [While in Fall 2021, nearly 295,000 students were enrolled amongst the ten UC campuses.]

Inside Higher Ed, March 29, 2022

So, while housing availability will vary campus to campus, students and families would be prudent to consider living costs, including the opportunity costs of securing housing each year, over the duration of a college career as part of the valuation of one college over another.


For over twenty years, Creative Marbles experts have moderated family conversations regarding complex educational decisions, lending our expertise to reduce the risk of malinvestment. For more information, contact us.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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