Universities across the country are experiencing unprecedented demand for on-campus housing, and some have more students than beds.
The housing shortage is mainly affecting first-year and transfer students, who were informed that dorms were at full capacity at most one month before move-in day. They’ve been left scrambling to find off-campus housing while schools come up with provisional solutions.
When the University of Utah (UUtah) saw its on-campus housing waitlist reach 3,500, it stepped in with an offer to pay local alumni $5,000 per semester to accommodate students. For their part, Texas State University residence halls have resorted to cramming three people into two-bedroom suites, while Florida Atlantic University has booked hotel rooms for about 800 unassigned students.
Other schools are looking at long-term solutions. Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) is making plans to purchase nearby property and undeveloped land to expand their housing options. As a temporary fix, they’ve offered $2,000 stipends to the 700 students on their housing waitlist.
Spokespersons for these universities have attributed the housing shortage to a surge in enrollment for the 2022-2023 academic year. For example, FAMU reported a 36% and 19% increase in the admittance of freshmen and transfer students respectively over fall 2021. For some institutions, these numbers are making up growth that was lost in 2020 and then some. Others, like UUTah, have been breaking enrollment records since last year.
Whether or not this growth is a continued trend, overall investment in off-campus beds slowed considerably during the pandemic, leaving colleges underprepared for undergraduates who are taking advantage of the return to normalcy after two and a half years of online classes and social distancing. New and returning students are clamoring to reclaim the residential life they missed out on during the pandemic.
Even if students are happy to live off campus, they’re facing another obstacle: soaring rents. According to Rent.com, the national average rent for one-bedroom apartments increased 39% to $1,769 from August 2021. Bunking with a roommate is one way to cut costs, but two-bedroom apartments also saw a 38% increase from last August and cost $2,105 on average. Students and their parents are worried they won’t be able to find affordable housing within comfortable vicinity of campus in time for class.
Because of growing demand for affordable off-campus housing, realtors neighboring FAMU have pinpointed student housing as the market to be in right now. There’s a clear and present opportunity for property managers to build up property portfolios around their local university to take overflow off its shoulders.
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