The cost of leaving home to attend Tokyo-area private colleges hits an all-time high of $18,000

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TOKYO — It costs an average of a record 2,233,780 yen (about $18,000) for a student to leave home to enter a private university in the greater Tokyo area in 2021, a survey has found.

The figure totals the average costs of taking entrance exams, enrolling in schools and living in the Tokyo area, and it increased by 17,257 yen (about $140) from the previous school year.

The Federation of Private Universities Faculty and Staff Unions in Tokyo released the survey results on April 6. The main factors behind this increase were apparently increased payments to schools for the first year, including tuition and registration fees, as well as rising housing costs. Meanwhile, the average cost of living for a student – subtracting rent from money sent home – was 650 yen (about $5.30) per day, the second lowest amount after 607 yen (about $4.90) recorded in the 2020 academic year.

The survey was conducted between May and July last year, and the federation received responses from 4,987 tutors of students who had enrolled at 11 private universities and two-year colleges in Tokyo prefectures, Saitama, Chiba and Tochigi.

Breakdown by purpose, an average student living away from home paid 254,000 yen (about $2,050) in entrance examination fees, an increase of 3,900 yen (about $32) from the year previous university. They spent 66,700 yen (about $540) for the first month’s rent – a hike of 2,500 yen (about $20) – and paid 235,300 yen (about $1,900) in deposit and wallet – an increase of 10,000 yen (about $80). They also paid 1,357,080 yen (about $11,000) to the university for the average freshman year, an increase of 857 yen (about $7). The total cost to start living alone and enter a private university has increased for six consecutive years, since the 2016 academic year.

The average amount of money sent from home since June was 86,200 yen (about $700) per month. That was an increase of 3,800 yen (about $31) from the previous year, but the average rent also rose by 2,500 yen (about $20) to 66,700 yen.

While more than 50% of students lived alone until around the 2000 academic year, that figure had fallen to 33.4% by the 2021 academic year – a change which the federation says is influenced by rising rents and tuition fees.

Takeshi Hitomi, a member of the Federation’s executive committee and a professor at Waseda University, said many tend to choose universities they can travel to from home.

(Japanese original by Makoto Fukazu, Tokyo City News Department)

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