Often students do not have a choice of whether to live on or off campus. It’s simply a matter of finances-to be able to afford to attend college, they live at home and attend a local university.
But for those who have the choice, research shows that students who live on campus do better academically. Freshman, sophomores, and juniors at Missouri State University had higher GPAs than those who lived off-campus. A study by Iowa State University reported that students who lived on campus as freshman had a higher graduation rate.
Kent State also shows advantages to living on campus. James Murray of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has a working paper showing the academic advantage of living on campus even after moving off campus. A study published in Urban Education shows that Black students living on campus have higher GPAs than those living off campus. This was true for all students living on campus at Liberal Arts Colleges as well.
In general, the improvements in GPA compared to living off campus tend to be small. A review by The Association of College and University Housing Officers (ACUHO) found that “The literature provides mixed evidence as to whether living in campus residential settings leads to better educational outcomes, and most studies have focused on GPA as the key outcome.” However, ACUHO also reported that “when the outcome is persistence, on the other hand, the clear majority of studies find that on-campus students do “better” (higher persistence) than off-campus students.”