Housing rates on the rise

Students living on campus next year can expect to pay an average of slightly more than $200 more annually than this year, according to the figures in a statement released by director of Residence Services Tom Kane.

Put into perspective, a student living in Beta Hall during the 2005-2006 academic year pays $3,108 for a double bedroom or $4,536 for a single bedroom; the proposed rates for the next school year are $3,272 and $4,776, respectively.

Kane has announced his offices are proposing rate increases ranging from 1.11 to 5.29 percent for the 2006-2007 school year.

This year’s increase is slightly higher than usual, but increases in general have become an annual fixture. Last year, the Board of Trustees approved a 3.5 to 4 percent increase, and over the past eight years rates have increased an average of about 4 percent each year.

Magnolia family apartments, made up of only 11 units – far fewer than other residence halls – would see a 1.11 percent increase, the only proposed increase below 5 percent. The average proposed increase for the rest of on-campus housing comes to an increase of 5.23 percent.

Last year’s increases covered the cost of adding new cable channels that the Residence Hall Association requested, including several HBO channels. Kane said students won’t be getting anything of that nature for this year’s increases; the increases will maintain the status quo.

He cited the effects of Hurricane Katrina on both utility costs and the overall cost of living index as major reasons for this year’s above-average increase.

“Utility costs have gone up already and so we’re eating those,” Kane said. “When you’re looking at a 25-50 percent rate increase on the cost of natural gas, we’ve got to pass that charge onto our users, the residents who live in the buildings.”

He also cited the need for resident services to maintain a strong financial position in the bond market as a reason for the rate increases. Last year’s rate increase was criticized by BOT Chairman Dick Beard and Trustee Lee Arnold for not being high enough when it was discussed by the BOT Finance and Audit Workgroup.

Kane said that as a result the BOT has asked Residence Services to be more fiscally conservative and try to get more reserve money to keep on hand.Students have grown accustomed to the annual rate increases.

Of several students asked, all of them – though some grudgingly – said they did plan to stay on campus despite the proposed rate increases.

Junior Stacy Dyhouse, who lives in Maple Hall, said the rate increase was “not a big surprise.”

She said she plans to stay in Maple next year despite the proposed increases, which will cost her $172 next year.