We also considered purchasing a property in order to "save" money. In the long run, we have to count on several things to happen in order not to lose money: 1) My kid will not want to transfer to another school; 2) the real estate market will appreciate; 3) the co-op association won't increase it's monthly fees; 4) the building won't require major repairs neccessitating a special assessment; 5) property taxes won't rise; 6) co-ops will be a desirable in four years and there will be plenty of buyers who can afford the 20% down payment required by the board, oh and yes, there will be more buyers able to qualify for a loan.
I am not a gambling person. So this scenario doesn't work for me. Spending $8-9,000 a year for room and board is a bargain by comparison when you remember all the services (food for example) that go with it.
Buying a co-op in this area which is in close proximity to NYC is a nice opportunity for someone who isn't banking on turning a profit in the short term and wants to enjoy living in the home and the area.
Best of luck!
Living on campus is generally an experience any college student should want. It forces you to meet people and make friends nearly immediately. Given the cost of room and board at colleges now, it may be cheaper to buy the apt (especially ignoring the lost opportunity cost of the downpayment) but your daughter may be missing out on part of the college experience. Renting in this area will be very similar to purchasing without the downpayment , fees, closing costs and risk and would be a wiser move in this short time horizon.
Hopefully some of the realtors in this area can comment on the types of buildings in the area. I believe most are co-ops which could be a problem getting board approval if you wanted to purchase for college students.