The open wound of the California state budget is in no hurry to heal itself. Universities all over California are struggling to make ends meet and school officials are looking to students to foot the bill.
Take for example the new University Live-In Requirement at San Diego State University (SDSU). With this fall semester, all incoming freshmen from outside the SDSU local service area are required to live on campus.
First-time freshmen participating in the University Honors Program will also be required to live on campus. This means that even some students who live locally will have to pay thousands of dollars to live on campus.
Everyone knows the plight of the cash-strapped, ramen noodle-eating college student. Tuition and books already run a high price tag, factor in food and housing and you are easily looking at tens of thousands dollars a semester. In fact, the average cost of housing at SDSU for one school year is $11,485, not including tuition. The school’s housing website recommends that students live on campus for at least two years; a recommendation that costs about $22,970.
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For some freshmen at SDSU, the decision to live off-campus in order to save money is no longer an option according to the school’s new policy.
The University Residential Live-on Requirement comes on the heels of declining demand for on-campus housing. Chapultepec, a residence hall at SDSU, was closed down last fall due to low student enrollment. Enrollment at SDSU was cut by almost 5,000 students for this fall semester, putting the school in danger of having to close down more dorms because of declining demand.
The University Residential Live-on Requirement solves this problem, making it mandatory for certain freshmen to live on campus. In doing this, the school prevents the possibility of losing millions of dollars on empty dorms that fewer students are seeking to live in. The new policy is working so far, Chapultepec, the dorm that was closed last fall, re-opened this fall.
Each student pays about $1,300 a month for rooms. Since 60 percent of SDSU’s dorms are double occupancy, each of those rooms averages about $2,600 a month. That is a high price to pay for a room that is around 11 x 15 feet, especially since the average rent in the entire San Diego County is $1,386.
The school offers aid but has not altered the amount to accommodate the now mandatory expense of dorm living. There are no reports of increased financial aid awarded for the upcoming school year, no guarantees for on-campus employment, no housing-specific scholarships. The average SDSU student receives about $9,000 in financial aid, which is not enough to cover the cost of a dorm, let alone tuition.
SDSU’s website estimates the cost of attendance for one year as $22,306, that leaves $13,306 left to come out of the student’s pocket after the average financial aid amount of $9,000 is deducted. For out-of-state students who attend school full-time the cost is even higher, reaching almost $30,000.
Despite the high cost of living in the dorms, the school says there are benefits to living on campus. The school’s housing website says students living on campus have higher GPA’s, a higher retention rate, and are less likely to be placed on academic probation.