With countless internship opportunities, 19+ Smithsonian museums, 40+ performing arts venues, and being the nation’s capital, it’s easy to see why thousands of students every year choose to attend one of D.C.’s 19 colleges and universities. Not only is D.C. an amazing location to attend college, it has a perk of an easy transition for recent grads. D.C. was recently ranked third on a list of best cities for recent college graduates when accounting for things such as median earnings and rent costs. We were surprised to see that rent costs were a favorable factor given the fact that millennials understandably continue to say that DC is too expensive.

Interestingly, the rankings say that despite DC’s “pricier costs of living” … “they made the list partly because median earnings offset steep rents.” The District Ninja team wanted to get a better idea of just how expensive it is to rent an apartment while going to college in D.C. Unlike millennials, college students are generally not working a full time job that they can leverage towards paying their rent. So, we set out to see what the average rent was for an apartment in the surrounding areas near D.C.’s eight primary universities and colleges.

First, we wanted to map them out to get a better idea of how D.C.’s major colleges and universities are spread out across D.C. If you drag your mouse over each of the colored polygons, you can see information about each university such as campus size, acceptance rate, tuition + room/board costs, and a breakdown of the undergraduate population. As you can see, there are some really interesting trends that immediately stick out.

For example, one would think that room and board will almost always cost less than the tuition price, often costing far less. At George Washington, American, and Georgetown, the room/board costs are roughly 1/3 or 1/4th the price of the tuition. However, at UDC, which is less than 2 miles from American, the price of room and board is double  the price of tuition. Gallaudet has a similarly unique ratio for tuition and room/board as the cost of tuition barely exceeds the cost of room/board.

We were also interested to see the considerable differences in general tuition room/board costs. For example, Howard’s total costs for room/board plus tuition are less than just the cost of tuition at GW, American, and Georgetown. Similarly, the  combined cost for room/board + tuition at GW ($62, 485) is only a few thousand dollars less than the total cost for room/board and tuition at  Gallaudet, Trinity, and UDC, combined! ($67,335).  Once we had a general idea of the tuition and living costs for each university, we wanted to see what the renters market was like within a close distance of each university.

The following visual breaks down the renter’s market for each university by number of bedrooms. If you drag your mouse over the bar’s for each school, you can find information such as average monthly rent, average year the unit was built, average days on the market, and the number of listings, so you can appreciate the context of the data.


When it comes to the most expensive university to rent near, George Washington is the clear winner. It contains the highest monthly rent rates for 3 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 1 bedroom apartments. Not only is it the most expensive to rent near, you get the least amount of space for your money. The cost of renting a 3 bedroom near GW ($4,411) is greater than the cost of a 3 bedroom apartment near American, Howard , Gallaudet, Trinity, Catholic, and UDC.

We also wanted to see which universities may require you to act faster when it comes to looking for a place to live. Among the top four schools with the most number of listings, 1 bedroom apartments near Howard seem to go the fastest averaging 28 days on the market. As for 2 bedrooms, apartments near American (60) days and Howard (63) spend the shortest amount of time on the market.

Finally, we wanted to give you a quick snap shot of the average rent cost for an apartment near each of the universities and colleges. Red indicates the most expensive option and green the least expensive.

University 3 Bedroom Avg. # days on Market 2 Bedroom  Avg. Days on Market 1 Bedroom Avg. Days on Market
George Washington $5,950 51 $4,411 80 $2,416 74
Georgetown $4,749 56 $3,889 105 $2,386 66
American $4,267 99 $3,250 60 $1,913 63
Howard $3,787 47 $3,004 63 $1,919 28
Gallaudet $2,793 57 $2,265 26 N/A N/A
Trinity $2,250 75 $2,170 197 $1,399 59
Catholic $2,375 90 $1,575 52 $1,338 109
UDC $2,600 175 $2,750 37 $1,938 39

We hope you enjoyed this piece on the ins and outs of rentals near D.C.’s major universities/colleges.

Ninja Notes

To build our map, we used Open Data DC’s University and College Campuses data set. The data set contains 30 colleges and universities, however, we narrowed it down to DC’s 8 largest universities for the purposes for this article. All data displayed in the map hover windows that was not from Open Data DC, was acquired from the College Data website.

Data sampled for DC rentals was pulled from MRIS listings for all rentals that were rented within .65 miles of each university/college from January 1-March 31st 2016. Special thanks to Valerie Greene for always helping with real estate data!



Rising Rents: How Rent Prices Effect DC Collegiate Population
Tagged on:                         

3 thoughts on “Rising Rents: How Rent Prices Effect DC Collegiate Population

  • April 12, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Which of the schools offer and/or require on campus housing? I think most students at GW and Gtown live in on-campus housing, which may be less than market rate (but may not offer things like kitchens). Do any of the schools guarantee on-campus housing, and for how many years?

  • April 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Interesting, but it really needs non-apartments added into the mix. Most off-campus students at Georgetown and AU (and probably others like Catholic as well) don’t live in apartments, they share group homes that are rented SFHs.

  • April 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm


    Georgetown guarantees housing for 3 years. Those who request a fourth year often do get it, although they typically end up with a lower pick and therefore less desirable on-campus housing in that fourth year (i.e., a dorm room rather than a shared apartment that has its own kitchen). Also worth noting that many study abroad their junior year for a semester or the whole year.

    Consistent with their zoning agreements with the District, GW and Georgetown require students to live on campus for their first three years, with a handful of exceptions for local/commuter students, students with children, etc.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *