San Antonio metro among the most affordable in the nation for student housing, study says

Although San Antonio is less expensive than other metros, first-generation and low-income students face hurdles when applying for housing.

Around 43% of UTSA's incoming freshman class in 2020 were first-generation college students, according to the school. - Courtesy / The University of Texas at San Antonio
Courtesy / The University of Texas at San Antonio
Around 43% of UTSA's incoming freshman class in 2020 were first-generation college students, according to the school.
Fast-rising rents, which increased 12.3% nationally since last year, can put the squeeze on U.S. college students' already-tight budgets.

Even so, the San Antonio area's 60,000 college students can be thankful they're paying far less than counterparts attending schools in other metros, according to a recent report.

An analysis by online home-service company Porch ranked the San Antonio-New Braunfels area as the No. 12 most-affordable large metro for college students looking to rent an apartment.

To create the rankings, researchers calculated the weighted average of off-campus room and board — excluding for those living with family — for the 2020-2021 academic year. Those metros with the lowest average ranked highest.

With an average total rent of $9,935 for the 2020-2021 academic year, students in the Alamo City are paying 2.1% below the national average for their off-campus cribs, according to the report.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan; Nashville, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky areas took home the respective top three spots as the nation's most affordable large metros. Meanwhile, California's Bay Area ranked as the most expensive big metro for college renters, followed by New York’s Tri-State region and the San Diego area.

Although San Antonio-New Braunfels ranked among the most affordable spots for students seeking housing, that doesn’t necessarily mean finding accommodations is accessible to all. First-generation and low-income students face significant hurdles, according to the study's authors.

“Price pressures from rent are especially challenging for college students, especially first-generation college students and students from low-income families,” Lauren Thomas, a Porch content creator and marketer, said in a written statement. “Students often lack the rental history or savings for deposits that help them get approved for a rental.”

Around 43% of the University of San Antonio's 2020 first-year students were first-generation, according to the city's largest four-year institution. Additionally, more than 11,000 of its nearly 30,000 undergrads are considered low-income and receive federal Pell grants.

Even so, UTSA is also one of several public universities in Texas to offer free tuition for eight semesters to low-income Texas residents who graduated in the top 25% of their class.

But with the average rent in the Alamo City topping $1,220 a month in July 2022 and inflation near 40-year-highs, low-income students in San Antonio and beyond are disproportionately overburdened by the quick-rising cost of living.

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