Most students are excited about the additional responsibility and independence that comes with moving off-campus. Understanding your personal finances is the first step in making financially-responsible off-campus living decisions!

What does it cost to live off-campus?

When you move off-campus, budgeting becomes crucial. Making sure you set enough money aside to cover all your expenses is vital for a successful off-campus living experience. Here are some questions you should consider before selecting a place to live:

  • Will you be able to afford rent for the duration of your lease?
  • What is included in your rent? Are all utilities included, or do you have to pay extra?
  • Does your rent include a utilities cap? If so, can you afford to pay for utilities if you exceed your cap?
  • How long is your commute to campus from your desired place of residency? Can you afford to pay for gas and parking?
  • Does your off-campus community provide a shuttle to and from campus?
  • What will food, school supplies, and books cost? How do these factor into your other living costs?
  • Will your residence be furnished or will you have to purchase furniture? If the apartment/house is furnished, is there a fee associated with it?
  • If the apartment is described as “partially furnished”, what furnishings are included? What furnishings will you need to purchase yourself?

What should be included in a budget?

Income: this includes any source of money you have coming in. This can be paid from work, an allowance, gifts, or loans. Your income is not just a paycheck – Think outside the box!


  • Monthly Fixed: Necessary monthly expenses that do not change in amount (example: car payment, rent)
  • Monthly Variable: Necessary monthly expenses that vary in amount (example: power bill)
  • Periodic: Necessary expenses that occur on an irregular basis with varying amounts (example: purchasing textbooks)
  • Discretionary: Expenses that are wants, not needs; “fun “ or “extra” expenses (example: going to the movies)

Budget: the actual budget is the combination of the total income and expenses. It is usually categorized and balanced. It details the monthly spending patterns and is used to configure future spending plans.

What should my budget look like?

Your budget should be tailored to you and no one else will be able to tell you how exactly to spend your money. Those decisions are yours to make. A budget simply gives you a strategy and helps you visualize where your money is going, so you can use it to keep needless or unintentional spending to a minimum and save some money for unexpected expenses.

Want assistance creating your off-campus budget?

The Student Success Center Financial Literacy Program offers a college budget guide to help you get your spending on the right track, as well as complementary one-hour “Moving Off-Campus” consultations for students. Learn more and sign up on the Student Success Center webpage at http://www.sc.edu/success/flconsultations.html.