A Lot of College Students Are Living with Their Parents. That’s Normal.

According to a piece in Forbes, more college students are now living at home while in college.

This might sound a little depressing, for those of us who had the traditional dorm-frat-apartment college living experience, but it’s maybe not so important. What does this mean? Well, probably not much.

The story explains that:

More than half of college students (54%) chose to live at home to make school more affordable, according to Sallie Mae’s most recentHow America Pays for College report. That’s up from 43% just four years ago. “Our research shows that families are making deliberate decisions to save on their college bills, and they are adopting multiple strategies to reduce the cost of college,” says Abigail Harper, a spokesperson for Sallie Mae. “One of the strategies they’re using is living at home, and another is living closer to home to reduce travel expenses.”

The move from 43 percent to 54 percent, in only four years, looks pretty dramatic. And this move is pretty clearly a sign of changing spending patterns with regard to college educations, which have been documented elsewhere.

CollegeAtHome

And this might continue, too. While the great recession is now over, we’ve not returned to the overvalued houses and happy-go-lucky stock market of the early 2000s. Parents aren’t going into massive debt to send their kids to college anymore. Or, well, at least if there’s a way to save money they’re going to find it. People aren’t willing to pay more to put their kids in dorms if they can live just as well for free at home.

In fact, the brilliant minds over at Sallie Mae, the source of so much of that debt students find so troublesome, appeared to say the same damn thing back in 2012.

We get it: economic times are changing. But this might just represent a reversion to the norm. The development of the dorm is relatively recent. In fact, college students always lived at home. That’s always been pretty common.

Sallie Mae has only been doing its “How America Pays for College” survey for the last decade or so. We don’t, admittedly, have comparable data for all of America, but a look around the average American campus makes this very clear. Even at comparatively older schools, most of the dormitories date from the 1960s or 70s. Students did, of course, live in fraternities or rooming houses while studying, but living at home seems to have been pretty common.

It’s pretty recent development, expecting to live away from your parents when you went to college. I certainly never even would have considering commuting to school when I was in college, but my father did that. So did a few of my aunts and uncles, to attend private colleges.

It’s normal to live with your parents. Anything else, when your college is local, is ridiculously impractical.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer