Students need action on affordable housing

These trends will continue unless colleges around the country take action. ORACLE PHOTO

On Feb. 12, a new survey from the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice  found that among U.S. college students at colleges and universities, an astonishing 46 percent of students were “insecure” when it came to housing and 17 percent of students had been homeless in the past year.

The Hope Center is an advocacy group that conducts research about college students and their issues. Its recent survey included 167,000 students from a total of 227 colleges around the country.

With on-campus housing often being prohibitively expensive and rent rising among traditional off-campus living, these trends will continue into the future unless colleges around the country take action.

In our own community, housing costs are rising. In Temple Terrace alone, rent has gone up by nearly $500 since 2010, according to data from the rental market database Rainmaker Insights.

It’s possible for a student who struggles with housing to get additional private loans to pay for the cost of living that may not be covered by the student’s  financial aid.

However, student loans are designed to be paid back with interest, which can lead to additional financial struggles post graduation.

There are a range of options the university could take to curtail this problem.

The most obvious remedy for these issues is to give more affordable options for on-campus housing.

The current rates for USF residence halls range from $5,990 to $11,500 for two semesters, which is not a substantially different price from what you would pay if you had roommates in off-campus housing.

In addition, the USF Foundation should be proactive in offering scholarships to students who are insecure in their housing, especially those who don’t have family support.

Cost of attendance calculations are also a crucial factor in how much aid students can receive. The university should be careful to consider the rising cost of rent when making those calculations.

Student Government (SG) has engaged in partnerships with multiple off-campus apartments that offer reasonably priced living. SG leaders should continue to be advocates for affordable housing in the broader community.

Students deserve a fix to this growing problem. The USF Foundation and SG should set their agendas to focus on tackling the issue of housing insecurity.

Jared Sellick is a senior studying political science.