North Texas Daily

The rising cost of student housing

The rising cost of student housing

The rising cost of student housing
May 29
09:13 2018

Over the last four years, UNT’s on-campus housing costs have increased 27 percent in some instances, leaving many students scrambling to figure out their living situation.

In fall 2014, a double room at Kerr Hall was $4,610 for the semester. But in fall 2018, a triple occupancy room at Kerr Hall is estimated to be $5,200, and double occupancy rooms are estimated to be $5,830, according to the UNT Factbook.

Source: UNT Factbook

The application fee to get on the waiting list for UNT housing is $350 for returning students but is an additional $50 for new UNT students, according to the UNT Housing website.

Consequently, these rising costs are forcing students to look off campus where prices can be just as steep and reliable transportation is not a guarantee.

For sophomore Holli Foley, the price she pays at the Ridge apartment complex is worth the commute.

“I did the math on it, and it’s cheaper to live off campus than living in the dorms by almost a thousand dollars,” Foley said.

However, the cost of living in Denton is not getting any cheaper.

The cost of an average two-bedroom apartment in Denton is $1,154 per month, but for students living off campus at student apartments like the Ridge, rent can sometimes be little over a quarter of that.

Foley pays around $480 a month for her room in a four bedroom, two bath apartment at the Ridge.

However, the Ridge is an outlier in the market of student apartments and is often the first place to fill up as a result.

Students who live at higher-end apartments such as The Republic or 1451 can expect to pay about $600 a month for the average four-bedroom, four-bath apartment. Compare those prices with U Centre at Fry Street, which charges $724 for a four-bedroom, four-bath apartment. A one bedroom at U Centre costs $1,284 a month while a one bedroom at the Ridge costs $870 per month.

Since fall 2016, UNT has had an enrolled student population of 38,081 but only 6,208 beds across 15 residence halls and 21 apartments at College Inn, according to the UNT Fall 2016 Fact Sheet.

This means that at any one point, only 16 percent of students can live on campus.

Even with some of the more recent on-campus housing additions like Rawlins Hall and the ongoing construction of the new “Mean” Joe Greene residence hall in the parking lot of Kerr Hall, the housing situation on campus will remain at its current level of accommodation.

The new residence hall will add 500 beds to on-campus housing, but there is no official word yet on how much it will cost.

The lack of affordable on-campus housing is not the only issue students face. Those who are able to live on campus face a different set of problems.

“I live in College Inn right now, and the other day, yellow liquid was dripping from the ceiling,” junior Adam Leyva said. “Many of the rooms also have mold.”

Housing is aware of issues like these within College Inn and are working to address them, according to Gina Vanacore, executive director of housing and residence life.

UNT is working to rectify mold issues by bringing in an engineer to see how they can change the airflow of College Inn, which is designed differently than the other residence halls, Vanacore said.

“We’re renovating rooms, and as we’re doing that [we’re] pulling out old stuff and enhancing the airflow and things like that,” Vanacore said.

The mold issue lies with how the non-conditioned air will mix with the conditioned air, so the university has been trying to prevent these issues by sealing up the chase ways, which they have done in chunks along with the renovations.

Vanacore said she sometimes finds that people will allow the situation to get to the extreme.

“Tell somebody and then we can address it,” Vanacore said.

Leyva says he will be moving off campus next semester as a result of the cost, quality and quantity of the dorms, a decision he is not taking lightly.

He originally wanted to stay on campus since he did not believe he would be able to support himself while living off campus and working part time.

“I think the rising cost of dorms has a lot to do with the rising rent in Denton,” Leyva said. “I think that building more dorms will help the prices go down, but I am not sure UNT will make the investment in developing more student housing.”

The university tries to make sure the increases are relative to the area. UNT looks at the cost of living locally and the housing markets as a guide to how much housing should be, Vanacore said.

UNT also looks at the cost of operating residence halls like Kerr Hall by taking into account the cost of maintenance, renovations, utilities and amenities —  for example cable, wifi, washers and dryers. As the cost of operating increases, so will housing rates.

These increases are fixed until 2018, and the newly approved rate for the next few years is 3.2 percent.

Housing costs are also determined by debt service, which is how much money the university owes on a residence hall. This is calculated on a yearly basis.

“Debt service” accounts for 33 percent of the overall cost of residence halls.

At the end of the day, Vanacore said that ultimately the university tries to stay true to their mission statement of access and affordability.

“I believe students are getting a good value here. I know everything is not perfect, and I’m working on it,” Vanacore said. “Living on campus is more than just a place to stay, and being a part of that first-year experience here really helps to add to that vitality and the sense of connectedness that’s hard to measure, but is really important.”

Featured Image: Construction for a new residence hall is located behind Kerr Hall. Emily Olkkola 

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Emilia Capuchino

Emilia Capuchino

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1 Comment

  1. Andrew Carter
    Andrew Carter May 29, 17:58

    The assignment queue fee is a deposit that goes into your bill anyways and if you cancel, you get refunded your money, and the Ridge is miles away, and you compared a 4×4 with no utilities to a double with everything included on-campus.

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