Of course, I know nothing about real estate or owning a home. I would love to hear people's thoughts on why this would or would not be a good idea. Are there any costs I am neglecting? I want the house to be primarily an investment. Is there any reason that it would be a poor investment?
I live and work in a college town, but not your college town. You, like many students convinced to buy, are missing a great many costs. There are benefits of course. There's a healthy supply of renters, and you get to live right next to campus. But the stuff next to campus tends to be the oldest, and therefore most repair prone, property around, which is where the 'bad neighborhood' vibe comes from. Futhermore, a lot of the value of your property would be riding on government policy. Defunding unis could involve drastic cuts to their size in the near future, and student loan reform could backfire and become even less available. Even city politics comes into play: when property developers lobby city council to rezone your neighborhood for apartments, you could end up either surrounded with cheaper units or possibly eminent domain'd. I've seen both happen in my college town. If you refuse to sell you could find yourself facing an oddly high number of rental inspections, for example.
So on to the general advice:
Firstly, real estate in general doesn't reliably increase in value, at best it tends to track inflation. Most of the 'flipping' and such you saw over the past decade was a prolonged bubble, which is slowly and reliably tanking.
Beyond that, property taxes, insurance, PMI and repairs need to be factored in, as well as income tax from your renters. And, if you leave the home and continue to rent it out, it's not a owner-occupied property anymore, which is part of the agreement you sign and determines your interest rate.
There's also risks. If one of your buddies loses their job, wrecks their car, or loses financial aid, you may find yourself having to eat the loss or evict a good friend. Or if they injure themselves (just for an example: alcohol poisoning), it could land on your homeowners insurance. Or maybe the plumbing breaks and you're out an expensive repair.
Finally, there are significant costs to transacting in real estate. You can expect to pay like 5-6 percent of the price of the home to the agents, and various fees to inspections. It will be exceedingly difficult to recoup the cost of that transaction before you graduate. You'll also be anchored into managing this asset when you could be pursuing career opportunities elsewhere in the nation. Take a quick look at three houses you would consider buying and see how long they've been on the market. That's months of your life dealing with this house in a bad neighborhood.