housingrate

73% of on-campus housing will decrease in price in the future.

Photo: Carson Kahoe / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Think that living on-campus is too expensive? Well, 73 percent of on-campus residences will have lower or equal pricing next year.

Residential Services’ new two-rate pricing structure was implemented to increase the accessibility of the college house system and make more room types affordable for students. College House and Academic Services worked with Residential Services to achieve a rate structure that brought many rooms down to the price awarded in financial aid packages, while still meeting Residential Service’s bottom line.

For Director of CHAS Martin Redman, the rate structure was an issue of equity and access. “I’ve been supportive of this conversation from the beginning and think it’s really about fairness and accessibility.”

Under the old rate structure, student residents were occasionally assigned to rooms that cost more than their financial aid or more than they expected. The new rate structure eliminates this concern for freshmen by placing all freshman housing at the lower rate.

“We created a first-year housing requirement a year ago, and when you have a variable rate structure like we used to have, you wind up getting into conversations about affordability that are difficult,” Redman said.

Putting the majority of rooms at the lower rates allows students who depend on financial aid to have a greater selection of rooms, and it increases the accessibility of residential programs.

“Now, I think I’ll feel more comfortable talking to any family about pricing because we know what rooms will cost, that most of them are affordable, and just that the pricing is less confusing — I think it’s a huge win. I’m thrilled,” Redman said.

Of all the college houses, the change will have a particularly strong impact on small college houses like Gregory and Du Bois. Previously, 82 percent of rooms in Du Bois cost more than what financial aid normally pays for, and now every room is at the financial aid level.

Rev. William Gipson, vice provost for Equity and Access, is the faculty master of Du Bois College House and was an active participant in the conversation on college house affordability.

Du Bois went under renovation in summer 2009, and when occupants returned, room rates throughout the college house system had increased. Residents began to come to Gipson and complain that they wouldn’t be able to afford living in Du Bois because of the increased rates.

“I began to understand that the room rates were becoming a concern for us, and that concern continued to increase with each passing year,” Gipson said.

Gipson worked with many students and Student Financial Services to help them remain in Du Bois, and most of them were able to stay in their preferred college house. But in recent years, students continued to insist to Gipson that the college house system was too expensive for them.

In fall of 2014, Du Bois lost “significant house leaders” who had to move out of the house because of its lack of affordability, Gipson said, and the issue became especially critical for him. Du Bois is the smallest of the 11 college houses and depends on a small but active community.

“When I heard this announcement, I was very happy, joyful — I was delighted,” Gipson said. “It will be interesting how this new system will affect everyone, but I can tell you that for Du Bois, it was a win.”

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