How to Make Renting Off-Campus Pay

money saved renting off-campus
money saved renting off-campus

College students return to campus this week. Many of them argue -- and some even convince their parents and student loan officers -- that living off-campus is cheaper than living in the college dorms.

Seems plausible. According to the College Board, students attending a four-year, in-state public institution spend an average of $6,960 per year on room and board. For a four-year private college, housing costs top $8,000 a year.

But the truth is, students moving off-campus will rarely find that renting is less expensive than dorm life. Additional costs, such as utilities, food, transportation and even furniture, all add up. In addition, students receiving financial aid may discover that their needs are based on campus living costs versus off-campus renting costs, leaving them with a greater financial gap to close.

But renting off-campus does have some other potential benefits. (And no, we're not just talking about learning to manage your beer fund.) Here are four ways to make living off-campus pay: