You're not missing anything, that's just the price of living in Tampa/Brandon, FL. If you're truly trying to save money, my advice is to split an apartment with another student in your class. I personally didn't want a roommate and I'm paying around $900 a month for rent and that doesn't include Internet/electricity. Sure it's expensive, but I like to think of it as an investment for my future (not to mention my sanity haha had a bad roommate experience prior to moving).
There are a number of suitable living arrangements that are a 3-10 minute drive to campus and they're all priced around the same. They also allow cats, just not huge dogs. A few students live at an apartment complex called century, others at the retreat at Broadway, etc. One student even rented a house. The school will give you a list of apartments in the area once you're accepted and the semester starts rolling around.
Also, don't be afraid to spend some money, those loans will come in handy...
Source: current Nova-Tampa student.