The question is whether your local university will help you get the career you want. If you are desperate to leave home, staying another 2 years isn't going to help either, or help you grow and prepare to become your own person--a person who can handle things on his/her own.
You do generally have to take out loans to go to college, and because you went to community college you have saved a great deal of money, which is very fortunate. The fact that you are getting your tuition and books covered is, in fact, a miracle.
Look at your ability levels: are you able to cook, clean, shop, do laundry, pay bills, balance your bank account, drive yourself around or take public transportation where you would live if you moved away? Look at the typical rental costs. If you find a place or two you'd like and that seems right for you, look at what the expectations are for background check, references, deposits, rules, how close it is to the school, public transportation, and grocery stores. Call the local utility companies to find out how much the monthly heating bill, water bill, garbage bill, etc was during the previous winter. Try to get information on three months during the coldest months there. If the place has free parking and laundry room or washer/dryer included, that is a factor. If you have to use coin-laundry in the building or at a laundromat, then that can be costly and time-consuming too. You will have to have time and money to shop and cook and do laundry in addition to full-time school and possibly a part-time job.
Then, estimate what your parents say is a fair amount to spend on groceries (and add more if you are moving from a town to a city or somewhere the grocery stores are limited and they can charge whatever they want with no competition).
Do you want to have a car and have you or your parents pay insurance. You have to pay for gas, parking on campus, maintenance as well.
Now: once you've added all of the above, consider if those are easier and cheaper than living on campus and getting the cheapest and 2nd to cheapest room plan and middle-of-the-road meal plan. If you are a big eater, you'll need to get the largest meal plan. Some buy a little mini-fridge for yogurt etc, but again you have to have time to shop once in a while. Do you value getting your own place more? Is the cost still more to live on-campus? Would an upperclassman dorm be bearable? You don't have to necessarily have a car if you live on campus. There are so many factors. Write them all down, do the calculations, and apply to both schools (or more). File your FAFSA application before the deadline so you don't miss out on financial aid before it's all given away. Wait for the results to see what the best choice will actually be. Go on tours of the campuses, talk to the admissions officers and see if you can meet with a professor in your specialty area. Stay the night through the visiting program.
Ultimately your degree in what you'll be trying to do for the rest of your life is very important. Though room and board at a school or on your own in the town is expensive and you would have to take out loans, is it the college experience that you need, and the best place to help you get a good resume, more job opportunities, and more? Which place has the best reputation in your major? Which place can give you opportunities for making new friends that you may not have at home? These are hard decisions, but a lot of people are not and never have been graduating debt free for generations. Some people owe over $150,000 or more when they graduate (which you won't be doing unless you're going to go to extended graduate school afterwards)--so the reputation and opportunities of the school do matter sometimes. Not always but sometimes depending on your aspirations and goals.
· 10 months ago