The cost to live on campus is on the rise

Living on campus is going to cost students more in the fall and the increase in costs are not stopping there. ORACLE PHOTO/JESSE STOKES

The lowest-priced traditional style room in on-campus housing at USF increased from $695 a month to $735 for the 2018-19 school year. Students can expect hall rates to keep escalating for the next couple years as the construction increases on campus.

The housing rates for the 2018-19 school year increased due to a reinvestment plan to improve student living and maintain the infrastructure of the housing facilities. Capstone Development Partners determines hall rates for The Village in collaboration with USF through an advisory committee board.

Robert Brown, the director of asset management of Capstone Development Partners, said the company meets on campus with the USF administrative team to discuss operational procedures and to review the annual budget for the following year. The budget approval process requires the committee to unanimously agree on rental rates for the following year.

The rental revenue received from The Village is solely accumulated from student fees in order to achieve operational success. Brown said the increase in hall rates are for the equadies that are placed on the buildings, as well as debt payments. The projection (housing) rates every year is evaluated based on the context of performance and the meetings Capstone Development Partners has with USF, according to Brown.

Ana Hernandez, the assistant vice president of Housing and Residential Education, said a three-phase plan was presented to the Board of Trustees to strategize reinvesting into the facilities. According to Hernandez, $11 million dollars was spent upgrading infrastructure, such as an infill project to replace air control, painting, redesigning the bathrooms in Castor, and preparation to open new housing options in fall 2018.

According to Hernandez, it was important to include a variety of price points in order to meet the demand of students with different financial backgrounds on campus. Hernandez said the price of The Village for the 2018-19 school year was supposed to be higher but the advisory board was able to reduce the price.

“Our team works with the housing department who makes us aware of reservations that are made within the buildings for a particular group that is going to live there,” Brown said.

Capstone Development Partners is located in Birmingham, Alabama so direct communication is limited to a minimum of four times a year. Brown said the company has an active presence during the construction process on campus.

“A third-party management company hired Capstone On-Campus Management (operates as a subsidiary to Capstone Development) who are our eyes and ears on campus and works on a daily basis with Hernandez and her team, as well as the facilities team,” Brown said.

Brown said the company positions themselves appropriately so they are not in the way of those who have a designated plan for the University.

“USF has the front of the house when interacting with students and we feel we do a better job if we’re in the background making sure everything is operating the way that it needs to because we don’t want The Village to feel different than another location on campus,” Brown said.

According to Brown, Capstone Development Partners has a ground sublease and a facilities operation agreement which define the respective rules of USF and the ownership group. The agreement dictates everything from rental, administration, maintenance, residential and marketing decisions. Hernandez and the housing team introduces to Capstone Development Partners what the goals are for the campus and the direction of facilities management, according to Brown.

“USF has marketing responsibility so they are the front of that process and they know it well,” Brown said. “We like to be informed of what that process is and include as much input as we can.”