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"You have institutions that are surrounded by cornfields," she said, "and they have more individuals living on campus because there’s no other game in town."
Salt Lake City’s public transit system and affordable housing can make living off campus an attractive option.
At the U., the Mormon culture could also play into housing decisions. Most LDS men go on missions at age 19 (lowered to 18 in October), and those students may not see a reason to move on campus before they leave. Many also marry shortly after their return two years later.
While living on campus may not be an academic panacea, some students do directly benefit, according to Turley and Wodtke.
"Minority students (especially black students) who live off campus with their families are more likely than comparable whites to live in isolated, disadvantaged residential areas, which may inhibit success in college," they wrote. But those students are less likely to be able to afford the cost — $7,706 a year for a double room and a meal plan at the U. — of living in residence halls.
"Some scholarships provide opportunities that include housing," Remsburg said. "There are private programs that support students coming to the university to support their housing and meals, but there’s always a need for more."
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