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Some students struggle as housing insecurity rates increase nationally, locally

College students in Florida are more likely to struggle with housing insecurity than students from other states, according to a November 2022 Student Beans survey. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

As an international student, mechanical engineering major M M Tasin Ferdaous Galib said it is especially difficult to afford housing. Combined with e high prices of the USF dorms, Galib said preferred to live off campus.

“They are quite expensive. For me, I wanted to live somewhere cheaper, that is why I decided to live off campus,” he said. 

Still, Galib said it was difficult to find a place to live off campus because of all the documents required.

“It is definitely a struggle because you need to have proof of a good credit score and if you cannot provide proof you need to have someone co-sign your lease,” Galib said. “But for me, [it was difficult] because I don’t have any relatives in the U.S.”

Not all college students have financial aid, with four million students facing housing insecurity. Students living in Florida face the highest rates of housing insecurity in the U.S., according to a survey conducted by Student Beans. 

The survey was conducted in September 2022 and involved 3,595 U.S. college students. Student Beans found that 29% of Florida students stated they didn’t have a place to stay while attending college, which is significantly high compared to other states such as New York, where only 13% of students report facing housing insecurity. 

Financial problems already have a negative impact on a student’s ability to continue their education, with over 36% of the students surveyed stating that they have considered dropping out of college because of their financial situation. This is much worse for students that have faced housing insecurity, which rises to 62%, according to the survey. 

USF has over 6,400 students living on the Tampa campus and over 900 residents living on the St. Petersburg campus, according to Assistant Vice President of Housing and Residential Education Ana Hernandez. 

The Office of Housing and Residential Education offers a variety of housing options with a wide range of housing rates starting at $2,995 per semester, according to the Housing and Residential Education website.

As of 2023, the cost of the dorm rooms at USF ranges from $5,990 to $10,700 annually for the traditional style rooms, depending on the hall and the suite style. For the suite style rooms, the prices range from $7,500 to $11,900 annually depending on the hall and suite style, and for the apartment style rooms the prices range from $7,970 to $9,800 annually depending on the hall and suite style, according to the Housing and Residential Education website.

USF has not increased the cost of on-campus housing since a 1% increase in fall 2019, according to Hernandez. On the other hand, Tampa residents are facing the highest rent surges in the country, according to an ABC Action News article.

The Flats at 4200 charged a monthly rate of $750-$770 in 2019 for a four-by-four apartment, according to a  2022 Oracle article. 

That same four-by-four apartment complex is now listed for $910 per month, according to its website.

A four-by-four apartment complex at Avalon Heights apartments charges a monthly rate of $849, according to its website. This is a significant increase compared to 2019 when the same apartment cost residents $145 less, according to the 2022 article.

Despite the recent surge in pricing, some USF students said they still find it more cost effective to live off campus than on campus. 

Sophomore econometrics and quantitative economics major Matthew Bhutan lived on campus during his freshman year. Now living off campus, he finds he is paying a similar price while having more benefits.

“I lived on campus my first year and it was similar in price to what I pay now in my current apartment complex, but with the added benefit of having a bathroom and having my own room,” he said. 

“I was living in The Village, which is a newly refurbished apartment. So, I think those tend to be more expensive than if you were to live somewhere like Castor or Magnolia.”

USF takes a number of factors into consideration when establishing rates for on-campus housing including rent obligations, rising costs of utilities, labor, materials and supplies, reinvestment needs for the facilities and student support, according to Hernandez. 

Sophomore physics major Dillon Leotaud said that while the dorms are worth the cost since they come with access to various common areas such as a public kitchen and laundry facilities.  

“When you are a student you do not have much time to earn a living, so the fact that you are getting a dorm room that is about the same price as certain one-bed apartments off campus is pretty crazy.”

Bhutan said USF can do more to assist students struggling with insecure housing and a lack of affordability moving into the future. 

I feel that [USF] could do more to help students facing housing insecurity,” he said. “[It] can afford to build football stadiums and things like that. [But] maybe it would be a better use of money to redistribute that money to make [housing] more affordable.”