Housing rates jump, hundreds on wait list

Since St. Edward’s University is a growing school and community, the demand for on-campus housing is continually increasing every year.

The university is currently recruiting more out-of-state and international students, who gain first priority when it comes to assignment of dorms and apartments. However Alicia Vela, Director of Residence Life, said that more local students are also requesting on-campus housing due to the increase of traffic in the city.

On April 8, residence life sent an email to all St. Edward’s students who have secured on-campus living for the 2014-2015 academic year. The email included the new approved rates of housing and a link to the student financial services webpage for students to determine if the changes to the rates affected their room reservations. If rates had been impacted, the page showed by how much exactly, compared to the 2013-2014 academic year.

“Residence Life will work with each student individually to help them find a solution to their financial challenge,” Vela said.

One student that this applied to was senior Anna Owen, who has a semester left before she graduates.

Before the approved 2014-2015 rates were released, Owen opted for an efficiency style apartment priced at an estimated $3,535. However, when the new rates were released earlier this month, she found her already assigned apartment had been newly priced at $3,940 – over a $400 increase per semester.

“When I saw such an increase I immediately contacted Residence Life because there was no way I could afford that,” she said. “It’s ridiculous how they can just put the prices up so much and expect people to be okay with it.”

Owen requested that she be put into a two-person apartment and said that Residence Life was understanding and worked with her. She was worried that she would have to pay the $700 cancellation fee; however, within 30 minutes she was paired with a friend and will now be living in a style B apartment.

“They helped me so quickly and even said themselves that they did not anticipate the efficiency apartments would go up by so much. I don’t know how the school can justify some of the rates,” Owen said.

When Residence Life was contacted they said that they do not actually set the rates; the decision is made by the Board of Trustees.

“Residence Life proposes rates to the university based on our anticipated expenses for the following fiscal year,” Vela said.

Rhonda Cartwright, Vice President for Financial Affairs explained that the estimated rates are to help students plan in advance. After that, if students cannot afford their housing option, Residence Life will help as much as they can.

Cartwright said that the increases are justified.

“Increases in housing rates are necessary to provide for increases in utilities for the resident halls, and for the increased cost of property insurance,” she said.

When Hilltop Views went to press on April 22, there were 289 students on the on-campus housing wait list, so price is not deterring too many students. 

According to Cartwright, St. Edward’s is not planning on building any new residential halls in the near future. Damion Laverne is one of those students and is on the waiting list for the second consecutive year.

Last year Laverne was lucky enough to be placed in the first week of July, and is used to the process. 

He explains that it is just a waiting game.

“Once spots open up Residence Life contacts you and you’ll receive an offer,” he said. “You confirm or deny the offer and if you deny, you get placed back at the end of the waiting list.”

Though Laverne believes he is in a better position than he was last year, he has begun looking at off-campus living just in case by the time the new school year starts he has not been assigned a place to live.

“Since the younger students get to sign up first they are usually higher on the list,” he said. “If you’re still on the waiting list when school starts you usually get offered guaranteed housing, meaning you’ll be placed wherever the next opening is but also get priority for the next academic year.”

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