The Latest Hot Rentals on Airbnb? College Dorm Rooms

Written for Acculturated

January 6th, 2016

Years after graduation many adults find themselves longing for their college years, reminiscing about the basketball games, the parties, and the late dorm nights. For those out there who want to relive those youthful experiences, some college students are now offering the opportunity to stay in their dorm rooms . . . for a price.

While a lot of college students make money the traditional way (flipping burgers at fast food restaurants, bagging groceries, working the cash register, etc.) many students have found a, shall we say, less typical path towards paying for tuition. Some set up GoFundMe accounts, some serve as guinea pigs in clinical studies, others give plasma. I’ve even heard of students getting paid to have tubes stuffed down their throats for the sake of science (I gagged just writing that sentence). And now, some innovative students have found a way to turn their humble dorm rooms into cash-earning rental properties.

They’ve accomplished this using Airbnb, a service that allows homeowners the opportunity to rent their home or apartment to those in need of a short-term residence, but who want to stay someplace cheaper than a hotel. With only 3% off the price of each rental going to Airbnb, the practice can be fairly lucrative.

One enterprising student named Eduardo in New York City found himself without a roommate and decided to put the empty bed in his dorm to use. Thus far, he told Fast Company, he has made around $400 from Airbnb, no small sum to a college student.

This spring semester of college is going to cost me about $8,000, not including the absurdly expensive textbooks I have yet to purchase, and I’m a freshman at a fairly inexpensive state school. That price tag will be even greater for the average student, especially anyone who has to pay out-of-state tuition prices.

Being able to make some extra money simply by renting out a bed, or maybe the whole room, every once in a while is an easy way to help cover the cost of tuition while still being able to work around the busy schedule of a college student. Curious, I checked my own housing contract at UNC Chapel Hill to see if I could rent my dorm room. Much to my disappointment, I can’t. UNC’s contract specifically stipulates that one cannot run a business out of a residence hall. While the option of renting out a dorm room may not be available to most students, it is worth discussing. In fact, the City University of New York recently struck a deal with a residence hall in which they rent out dorm rooms through Airbnb.

As a current college student who understands the difficulty of covering the costs of tuition, room and board, meal plans, textbooks, travel, and everything else required for the modern college student, I tip my hat to Eduardo for his clever, enterprising idea. If UNC were to make renting out dorm rooms permissible, I’d follow in his footsteps and list my dorm room on Airbnb in a heartbeat.