What do you get as a UT student navigating Austin’s rising rents? «A lot of anxiety. «
When Sarah Jarrett graduates from the University of Texas in May, she’ll have more than $40,000 in student loans – nearly all from the cost of living in Austin.
Jarrett, a senior majoring in psychology, said her tuition costs have been covered entirely by scholarships and grants for the past three years, but she’s had to take out extra loans to afford the monthly rent in West Campus, a neighborhood adjacent to the university that includes many student apartments.
During her last year of college, she moved about 4 miles away from campus to an apartment in the East Riverside Drive area that cost $400 less a month, but the loans are still adding up.
“I couldn’t live in West Campus. It was not possible. That was really hard, and it takes a mental toll on you because you’re way too young to be figuring it out. I felt like at 19 I was not smart or mature enough to know how much things are supposed to cost or what to look for in a house or apartment,” Jarrett said. “That was definitely very stressful mentally for me.”
In Austin, the average cost of monthly rent has spiked during the pandemic from under $1,300 at the start of the year to more than $1,500 in August, according to data from a city consultant. As the Austin City Council focuses on how to address the affordability crisis in the city, some student leaders have been advocating for action to increase the supply of affordable student housing in the city.
Austin residents aged 18 to 24, including undergraduate and graduate students, face the highest average poverty rates in Austin while also paying a higher average rent per square foot for student apartments compared to conventional apartments, according to the 2020 City of Austin Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis. Read more