day," she said. "Last week, they had Fiji Apple Cider Chicken. It was really good, and that's not something I would make for myself."

While the cost of housing at UNL increased 3.5 percent this year, Shanks said, the cost of living on campus decreased after the school added two new lower-cost meal-plan options.

The university also offers three different living options: traditional, suite-style and apartment-style halls. Spilinek lived in a traditional dorm her first year and moved into an apartment-style dorm her last three years.

If UNL didn't have apartment-style dorms, it would have been a game changer, Spilinek said.

"I didn't like freshman year when my only option was a microwave." The apartment-style dorms have full kitchens so students can cook if they want, and Spilinek said it's great for over breaks when she stays to work and the dining halls are closed.

Shanks said this year UNL offered sign-up incentives to compete with the incentives that off-campus housing properties offer students. He said students were put into drawings for football tickets, headphones and free parking.

Students have plenty of off-campus housing options to choose from as well with seven major complexes nearby the university's city campus. Each apartment complex offers something a little different from the other.

Zach Lewis, a former construction management major who graduated in August, lived at Canopy Lofts for two years after living on campus for the first two years. Lewis lived with three other roommates and paid $575 a month for rent while also paying $15 a month for electricity and $63 a month for parking. One of the advantages for Lewis was being able to live downtown and enjoy all the amenities that come with it.

"It is close to restaurants and entertainment, so you never really have to drive anywhere," Lewis said. "The building offers a nice gym, study space, rooftop kitchen, grills and a coffee bar."

When comparing his apartment to when he lived on campus, he said that living downtown was more appealing to him.

Canopy Lofts is located at 601 R St. across the street from Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Railyard, an entertainment district, in downtown Lincoln.

While being close to the nightlife and within walking distance to campus was nice, Lewis said being so close to the arena had its drawbacks, especially where parking was concerned.

"Parking can be a real pain in the butt when it comes to events because you'll be waiting in line for 30 minutes just to get in the garage you pay $70-plus a month to park at and you don't have your own spot," Lewis said.

World-Herald staff writer Kiley Cruse contributed to this report.

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