Living on campus has its benefits, but dorm life comes with a hefty price tag – and for students living in the residence halls next year, that cost just got higher.
The University Board of Regents approved a 4.9-percent increase in residence halls rates at its monthly meeting Thursday.
Last year, a standard double room in West Quad cost $8,190. The rate increase means students will pay an additional $400 for the same room.
A little more than half of the rate increase is attributed to inflation, repairs and utility rates. The remaining funds will support the Residential Life Initiative.
The RLI is responsible for the residence hall improvement projects like the renovation of Mosher-Jordan and Stockwell residence halls, and the construction of the Hill Dining Center.
Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, said a 2-percent increase in room and board fees in each of the next 10 years will support the RLI.
LSA sophomore Becka Reits said she thought current students shouldn’t have to pay for the facilities of future students.
“(The funds) should be raised after that stuff is done,” Reits said. “Why would you pay more to live somewhere without the (new) stuff and facilities?”
While a 4.9-percent increase in residence hall rates is low in comparison to other institutions like the Ohio State University, which saw an increase of 5.8 percent, or Penn State University, whose rates increased by 6.9 percent this year, the University of Michigan still charges its students the second highest room and board rate of all Big Ten universities. Only Northwestern University has a higher rate.
Carole Henry, director of University Housing, said that because of the higher cost, University Housing can provide benefits like learning communities and residential programs that other schools can’t.
“We’re the only housing in the nation that has our own security for housing,” she said. “Another thing is we have multicultural lounges – we have multicultural hall councils (and) peer advisors.”
LSA senior Kayla Doyle said her experience with the residence halls has assured her that she gets her money’s worth.
“Our dorm experience is exceptional – I hear about other schools’ dorms and ours sound much better and worth the money,” she said.
But for other students like Reits, the budget given to hall councils to spend on resident bonding activities seems like a waste of money.
“In Markley, we had money left over. We spent it on random stuff, hall t-shirts and a Harry Potter week. I didn’t think we needed as much money as we had left at the end,” Reits said.
University Housing works weekly with student members of the Residence Halls Association. Henry said a group of about six students worked with the University to lower the rate increase from 5.5 to 4.9 percent.
Newly-elected Residence Halls Association president Ashley Londy, a student who served on the committee two years ago, addressed the regents’ before the board voted on the rate increase. She said the new rate increase had the support of the elected RHA representatives.
“This year’s rate had more direct student input than any other year in recent memory,” Londy said. “So, I tell you with full confidence and speaking for the residents of the residence halls that we support the rate recommendation.”
However, it may be difficult for students to notice where their money goes because general operation costs often surface behind the scenes, said Peter Logan, director of communications for University Housing.
“Some of those (expenditures) are very unsexy, you might say,” Logan said. “It could be boiler repairs or replacements, plumbing repairs and replacements.”
– Lindy Stevens and Kelli Huntsman contributed to this report.