It is our belief that most off campus residences that students choose to live in traditionally cover water, sewer and garbage (what is often referred to in advertisements as "w/s/g"). That leaves you concerned with gas, electricity and telephone. Many students choose to simply enhance their cell phone plans and not use what is referred to as a "land line" This eliminates the need for dissecting the monthly phone bill and collecting funds from roommates. Unlike the University, the phone company will not assign each student their own codes. You can, of course, have a landline directed to your own bedroom, for a fee. Qwest does offer some very competitive plans, that even offer unlimited minutes at a nickel for each minute for long distance in the U.S. , currently. As you know, phone plans change rapidly. It's worth a look, especially if you want to eliminate or reduce dependence on your cell phone.

For long distance use, we recommend you shop around. You can always just dial direct and get billed by Qwest along with your monthly charges. However, a less expensive per minute rate can be had with many independent long distance carriers like AT&T or companies like Vartek in which you just dial a lengthy prefix number. For instance, VarTek uses 10-10-811. You dial that number prior to the long distance number you want to dial and state to state use is a flat $.05 cents a minute 24/7! Some local gas stations and grocery stores offer preprogrammed long distance cards which can offer as little as $.02 a minute. These are wonderful for students who have an almost daily commitment of long distance calling, like with a significant other or family member out of town. Some cards are great, others tap you for a dollar per day when not used often or an up front connection fee of 25 to 50 cents which is a lot of minutes at 2.5 cents a minute. Shop carefully, find the card that works for your habits, and save some money. We advise you to shop around and learn to navigate this important service market. Analyzed against other utility bills,a phone bill is often one of the most expensive for students. A little homework up front can save you hundreds of dollars each academic year.

With whatever service you are attempting to use, understand there will typically be a sizeable deposit if you have never been a customer before. Also know that after a certain number of months of dependable payments you can do a couple of things: ask that your deposit be refunded and also ask to go on an equal payment plan which amortizes your typical 12 month usage out so the bills don't go up and down so drastically with the seasons.

Telephone Services: Qwest, 1-800-244-111

Cable/Internet: Comcast, www.comcast.com, 1-800-266-2278

Electric/Gas Service: Avista Utilities, 1411 E. Mission Ave, 1-800-227-9187

Spokane City Solid Waste: http://www.spokanecitysolidwaste.com/