Residence hall prices rising

With the increase of residence hall rates next fall, students living on campus will have a new set of television channels at their disposal.

The Residence Hall Association petitioned for the upgrade last fall and were granted the improvement by Director of Residence Services Tom Kane.

While prices for on-campus halls and apartments will increase 3.5 to 4 percent, students will be able to enjoy the advantages that the higher cost brings. Specifically, the cable television available in the residence halls will change as of fall 2005. The upgrade will include seven HBO channels, according to Kane.

Residence Services is a self-sustaining operation, so it does not receive funding from USF tuition or grants, Kane said, so “everything we do has to be paid for by rent money” received from students. This includes the cable upgrade as well as the salaries of all Residence Services employees and utilities for the halls and apartments.

But this upsurge covers other expenditures as well.

“We have to anticipate what things will cost for the next year, and the cost-of-living index will increase by 3 percent,” Kane said.

The increase accounts for basic utilities of the residence halls.

“Electricity always goes up, gas always goes up, and water always goes up,” Kane said.

As indicated in a press release, this rent increase is relatively average, with past increases as high as 7 percent.

Kane said the new cable arrangement will be implemented during the summer. Students living in the residence halls during summer sessions will only have access to the original cable selection, but those that live on campus during the fall 2005 and spring 2006 semesters will be able to utilize the upgrade.

“We will do the cable rewiring this summer and have the new system up and running this fall,” Kane said.

The largest debt, however, is the construction balance due on projects such as Cypress Hall and the new raised crosswalk between Cypress and Holly halls.

The rise of minimum wage influences the rate increase as well, Kane said. In November’s election, Florida voters chose to raise minimum wage by a dollar, which means every Residence Services employee earning minimum wage will receive a dollar pay raise.

“Not including RAs, there are probably 150 student employees,” including student tour guides, night workers and student custodians.

Students receiving financial aid will be supplemented for the increase.

“Financial Aid asks (Residence Services) each year what we’re charging, and that’s how they determine awards,” Kane said.

Financial Aid for housing will increase to compensate for the higher prices.