joel weber tiny house 2265Courtesy of Joel Weber

Before enrolling at University of Texas at Austin, design major Joel Weber took one look at the rising cost of living for a struggling college student and knew dorm life wasn't for him.

A room in one of the school's residence halls costs roughly $1,135 per month. Off-campus is no less forgiving. The median rent for a one-bedroom in a nearby downtown district jumps to $1,913, according to real estate site Zumper.

So Weber tried down-sizing. He constructed a 145-square-foot tiny house in a friend's backyard. It cost less than $15,000 to build, thanks to generous donations and a bit of resourcefulness.

Now the 25-year-old (who earned his associate's degree and traveled before enrolling at UT – Austin as a sophomore) pays nothing in rent and plans to graduate debt-free.

Take a peek inside his unconventional "student housing."

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