GV housing rates increase

By Ellie Phillips | 6/30/13 4:05pm

The cost of on-campus housing at Grand Valley State University is set to increase for the beginning of the fall 2013 semester. The price for freshmen housing has risen to $4,265 from last year’s $4,180 for an increase of about 2 percent.

“Generally we try to stay below the state average for room and board,” said Andrew Beachnau, director of the GVSU housing department. “Typically our increases range from zero to 2 percent.”

The expenses that increase housing rates include utilities, maintenance, facilities upgrades, services, food and technology—everything from the water in the sink to the wireless connection.

Melanie Grover, a GVSU housing assistant, said the students only see a small portion of that increase.
“Budget planning is based on estimates of prior year’s costs and anticipated cost increases,” Grover said. “We develop our budget based on an anticipated annual average of 95 percent occupancy—fall and winter semesters—but often have occupancy above that amount. It allows us to keep rate increases minimal, with little impact to student services. In years where occupancy levels allow for savings, funds are placed in a reserve account and used for projects, or to offset shortfalls when needed.”
Though the campus housing is nearly at capacity during the normal academic year, with about 24 percent of the university’s student population living on campus, the spring and summer sessions have averaged between 600 and 700 residents over the past five years.

“Grand Valley’s enrollment is nearing 25,000 students,” Beachnau said. “Between 5,500 and 6,000 students live in university-owned housing.”

The fall 2012 semester had 5,900 residents on campus, which was up from 2009 with 5,300. Around 59 percent of those students living on campus in 2012 were freshmen. Sophomore students made up 23 percent, 10 percent were juniors and about 8 percent were seniors. Less than one percent of on-campus residents were graduate students.

“We are anticipating similar occupancy to last year, which is likely to be 5,800-plus residential students,” Beachnau said.

Grover said it is rare that the university is unable to accommodate an on-campus housing applicant, as long as the individual is willing to remain on the wait list.

“Sometimes we cannot house a student right at the beginning of fall semester, but over the course of fall semester they are often able to move into vacancies,” she said. “Other times students decide to commute for the first semester and then move on when we have more flexibility with openings during winter semester.”

Incoming freshmen room assignments are made by date of application. Upperclassmen are entered into the assignment lottery, which enables them to select their own housing and is based on application dates as well.

“Assignments are largely made using the date of application,” Grover said. “General rule—the earlier you apply, the more likely you are to get housing.”

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