I generally agree with Gary, though it varies by area and school of course, and the the regulations with student loans. Student loans and school costs aren't what they used to be... My school has no dorms or housing assistance, and this city is VERY expensive to live in.
Here they are frustrating If I earn even close enough to pay for part of my education and housing costs they start cutting back on the loan. A truly odd situation that has left me perplexed for the years I've been at school, every year I get a loan they tell me that the loan leaves me with an unmet minimum need(and this is well below reality, being based on less expensive cities) of about 12, 000$. Yet if I earn 5000$ in a summer, they cut my loan back by 2000$ to counteract that income, leaving me again in a situation where even according to them, I haven't got enough money to live. Bizarre catch-22 in my books. Nevermind that according to the government, the poverty line for a single person is significantly more than the total from the loan and income if I got to keep both...
Or the time they simply made a paperwork error, and gave me my loan months late, after I paid tuition for two semesters with credit card cash advances, pulled out of a trip I did as a school project and incorrectly charged me payments and interest in the meantime they still haven't returned, nevermind the 28% interest on the cash advances
. After hearing the check's in the mail for 3 months I decided to start taking steps towards being independant, at least with the boat if I get that situation again, I can put up with some months at anchor to save money.
I bought a boat to live on in the hopes of at least spending my rent money in a more positive way. The rat-infested room in a basement I had cost me 500$/month, plus the liabilities of subletting the other two rooms in the place, which in the end averaged out that it cost me closer to 800$/mo by the time I left. Add to that the fact that the docks are 100m from my school, negating the transportation costs and time(100$/month for a bus pass, or 120$/mo for insurance on my motorcycle) and it seemed like a good idea.
So run the numbers, and figure it out :-)
Double what you think the monthly expenses for the boat will be, and you'll be closer to right.
Maybe it makes cost effective sense, for me this year it has been an expensive lesson, counting in work and parts it has cost triple my past rent(1500$/mo at least) but if next year I can live at anchor and row in the few hundred meters, assuming they don't manage to pass the bills to re-write the shipping act and ban all live-aboards here, then the work and money I spent this year pays off, will mean it gets me a good return on the investment, and been a much better use of my money than giving it to a slumlord.
I understand the attraction of spending the money towards something tangible, I think it can be a financially responsible decision to make.
Especially since you'll spend years paying interest on it later. However it depends on the situation, if I had cheap dorms, I doubt I'd have gone down this road.
If it wasn't for my school's location right on the water I'm not sure if I'd pick a boat, I could have outfitted a van for a lot less expense(newer model van, composting toilet, good solar power system, water tanks, stove etc), and then go to and from the school with it as well.