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What Even Is Room and Board?

Jun 6, 2022 | Admissions & Aid, Blog, Featured

If you’ve done any amount of college research, you’ve more than likely heard the term room and board. Perhaps you’ve seen it splayed across college webpages or maybe an admissions counselor mentioned it to you in conversation.

But what is room and board exactly? Great question.  

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is room and board?

Room and board basically boils down to this: where you’ll sleep and what you’ll eat. In other words, this will be your student housing and meal plan.

Student housing—the room part of room and board—is where you will live during the school year. This is where you will sleep, study, and spend time with friends.

Typically, your room will be a space shared with a roommate and located in a college dorm. Dorms come in all shapes and sizes, but most often they are multi-level buildings that contain dozens of rooms with essential furnishings, like a bed, dresser, chair, and desk. Dorms also include utilities like Wi-Fi, electricity, and heat.

Some dorms, like those at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, even contain additional amenities like shared kitchens, laundry facilities, workout centers, and/or common spaces for watching TV.

A meal plan—the board part of room and board—refers to the on-campus food you’ll treat yourself to throughout the school year. Many colleges offer several meal plan options at different price points. Depending on your eating patterns and preferences, you can select the meal plan that works best for you.

The best part? Meal plans make it convenient to grab a bite to eat without having to worry about shopping, preparing, or cooking meals yourself amidst a busy schedule!

How much does room and board cost?

So, you have your shelter and food covered while in college. But we know the million-dollar question you’re probably wondering: How much does it cost?

As you determine the overall cost of college, it’s important to take into consideration your room and board package. As expected, the price varies from college to college.

The average cost of room and board at 4-year institutions ranges from $9,395 to $12,540 annually.

However, note that a big factor in the cost is if the institution is private or public. Check out the annual room and board breakdown below:

  • Public 4-year institutions: $11,303
  • Private, nonprofit institutions: $12,540*
  • Private, for-profit institutions: $10,188

*At MACU, a private, non-profit institution, room and board sits well below the national average at just about $10,000 annually.

Can I pay for room and board with aid/scholarships?

Now that you have an idea of what room and board may cost, you may be wondering how you can plan to pay for it. After all, it makes up a large portion of the total cost of college attendance.

Here’s the good news. There are several options available to help you pay for room and board.


Regardless of where you choose to attend college, make sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form will determine your eligibility for student financial aid—which you can use to pay for the cost of attending college, including room and board. 

Eligibility is based on your Expected Family Contribution, year in school, enrollment status, and cost of attendance at the school you’ll be attending.

Discover more about the FAFSA and complete the form to learn what federal aid you may qualify for.


If you haven’t already, get in touch with your school’s financial aid office to inquire about what scholarships are offered that may help cover room and board. To name a few, these can include the following:

  • Academic Merit Scholarships
  • Athletic Scholarships
  • Military Service Scholarships
  • Community Service Scholarships
  • First-generation Student Scholarships


Plus, scholarships are considered gift aid and do not need to be repaid! Check out MACU scholarships here!

Federal Student Loans

Utilizing a federal student loan is another option for covering the cost of room and board. These types of loans offer benefits such as fixed interest rates, income-driven repayment plans, and payments that aren’t due until after you graduate. Keep in mind, however, that loans accrue interest so only borrow what you need.

Room & Board at MACU

At Mid-Atlantic Christian University, your room and board covers a big part of the college experience that will shape you for the rest of your life.

You’ll live in one of two on-campus dorms—Pearl A. Presley Hall and Harold C. Turner Hall—both of which are located right on the banks of the Pasquotank River. Experience a close-knit community that you will laugh with, learn with, and grow with. Plus, resident assistants are there to assist you with day-to-day college life, provide guidance with personal matters, and to organize dorm activities that build fellowship and spiritual maturity.   

And don’t forget about MACU’s affordable, easy-to-use meal plan! Get dinner with friends, chat over breakfast with your mentor, or simply grab a quick bite on the go.    

Interested in learning more about MACU? We’d love to talk!