Sophomore Sharlene Ackman started out just as any other freshman at Missouri Western. Excited for her first year of college, she chose to live on campus and explore residential life. While living in Scanlon Hall, Ackman made lifelong friendships, but also had problems while living in the residence halls. Some of the obstacles she faced were not getting along with her roommate, loud suitemates, waiting months for campus maintenance to do repairs and not having enough variety of meals to eat in the cafeteria. “The cafeteria food here is very unhealthy and nobody wants to eat pizza, fries and hamburgers for lunch and dinner all week,” Ackman said. In addition, students are thinking about where they will be living next fall as the spring semester comes to a close. Students who live on campus have to renew their contracts each year in the spring if they decide to live in the dorms the next fall. Residential life offers seven housing buildings that can be chosen to live in: Scanlon, Leaverton, Vaselakos, Beshears, Juda, Logan and Griffon Halls. Depending on the student’s grade levels, they have the chance to decide which building to live in. In fall 2013, the residence halls were at 93 percent capacity, with only 100 open spots out of 1,336. Scanlon Hall is limited to first-time freshmen only. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors can live in Vaselakos and Leaverton Halls on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sophomores through seniors can live in Logan Hall and freshmen with 30 credits through seniors can live in Juda Hall. Lastly, juniors and seniors are allowed to live in Beshears and Griffon Halls. With Western providing an adequate living style, cost is a main concern for students. Room and board are some of the things that are taken into consideration when deciding to live on campus. Costs vary because residence halls offer different living arrangements and there are also four different meal plans to choose from. Room costs vary based on the hall and room type. They range from a low of $2,082 per semester in Scanlon Hall to $3,131 in Griffon Hall. The basic 21-meal board plan tacks on $1,482 per semester, while the most expensive flex plan (15 meals plus $400 Flex) is $1,860. To live on campus for 9 months, costs vary from a low range of $7,128 in Scanlon Hall to $9,982 in Griffon. Along with paying for room, residents also have the option to receive a declining balance of flex dollars. Flex dollars is money attached onto any student’s identification card which can be used anywhere on campus such as Java City or Einstein Bros Bagels. Declining balances include $800, available to juniors and seniors only, and $1,395, available to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Single room buyout is also offered in Scanlon, Vaselakos and Leaverton. Additional costs for a single room in Scanlon are $871 and for Vaselakos and Leaverton it is $612 per semester. Room amenities for Scanlon include a single twin bed, desk, chair, closet, shared bathroom with three other students, carpet, windows and a dresser. Same amenities apply for Vaselakos and Leaverton. The only difference from Scanlon is a wall in the middle of the room that separates each roommate. For Logan, Juda and Beshears there is two sets of furniture and beds. The suite also shares a common area and balcony. Griffon hall supplies a full-sized bed, closet, chair, desk, and three-dresser drawer. Students share a full sized refrigerator, freezer, stove, oven and commons area. Nathan Roberts, director of residential life, feels as though campus life offers students endless possibilities and a great living experience. “When deciding to live on versus off campus, students have to consider what it means to them to not have to worry about paying monthly bills or the hassle of getting up earlier to start their car and drive to campus,” Roberts said. “Having a living environment where students can focus on academics and get involved in activities are some of the things that on-campus living provides.” Ackman lived in Scanlon and Vaselakos Halls before making the decision that on-campus life wasn’t for her. She made the decision to live off campus because the costs are cheaper. Before moving, she had dealt with many problems and has found that living in an apartment has a more “home” feel. “I feel like I have more independence living off campus,” Ackman said. “I don’t have to worry about campus maintenance not fixing my heater right and I can eat what I want without only five or six options to choose from.” Along with Ackman, many students may feel living on campus is way more expensive and may choose to live in an apartment to cut down on costs. Depending on which apartment complexes student’s choose, they both have to think about the costs of monthly rent and deposit, groceries, furniture, costs of electricity, Wi-Fi and other utilities and expenses that aren’t combined in a total balance like campus living offers. Sidebar: For students who find that residential life isn’t for them, popular apartments that welcome Western students include Brittany Village, Broadmoor, Chatsworth and ChapelRidge. When deciding which apartment is the right one, students must look at the costs of rent and deposit, the utilities that are covered, lease terms, prohibited and included items. Between the four different apartment complexes, these factors play an important role as to what costs less and what amenities are more beneficial to students. Costs at Brittany Village for a 12-month lease ranges from $5,948 for a one bedroom to $8,432 for a four bedroom. Those costs do not include utilities or other expenditures. If the 12-month contract is broken, then that person has to pay one month of rent as a penalty. Rent costs at Broadmoor Apartments can vary between each one due to renovations or with washer and dryer connections. To live in a one bedroom apartment with a 9-month contract, roughly it will cost $4,200 versus $5,510 for a three bedroom. This does not include monthly utilities. Students who wish to have roommates only have to pay $250 deposit per roommate. If a tenant breaks their contract for some reason at Broadmoor, they must pay the rest of their contract. For example, if someone has two months left on their lease, they will have to pay those two months to get out of their contract. Chatsworth Apartments only provides one and two bedroom complexes. With a 9-month contract and not including utilities, a one bedroom will roughly cost $5,435 compared to $6,245 for a two bedroom. Chatworth residents will have a one-month termination fee plus the $350 deposit as well if the contract happens to be broken. Having a 12-month contract at ChapelRidge can roughly cost $6,482.50 for a one bedroom to $8,882.50 for a three bedroom. This as well does not include utilities, food or other expenditures. Kristi Yates, assistant business manager of ChapelRidge feels as though ChapelRidge can offer many great opportunities for students. “We not only provide a pet-friendly community with a lot of amenities, but we are also close to the school which is great for students,” Yates said. The budget someone wants to spend a month, plus the cost of utilities, is the biggest concern among students who chose to live off campus. When deciding which apartment complex to choose from, students can refer to the chart and compare and contrast what they are looking to pay and have in their living lifestyle.