Make housing cheaper at U

In an effort to push more students to return to dorms, the University should meet student demands.

While much of the University of Minnesota’s housing is for freshman, school leaders are pushing for more students to return to dorms and on-campus apartments. The Minnesota Daily reported that the University wants to increase the number of sophomores living on campus partly to help boost graduation and retention rates.

The University’s goal is to get 25 percent of freshmen to return to on-campus housing. University data show that students who live on campus for two years are more likely to continue onto their third and fourth years.

However, Housing and Residential Life Director Laurie McLaughlin told the Daily that the current rate of freshmen returning is already at about 20 percent. The 5 percent increase is a small goal, and it raises the question of what exactly the University is looking to do to hit this mark.

In order to retain more student renters in on-campus housing, the University must face several challenges. Many of the advantages of living on campus as a freshman — a housing guarantee, a required meal plan for dorms, and little overhead from private amenities and appliances — become disadvantages for upperclassmen looking to branch out. Rather than providing students with affordable alternatives to the area’s luxury developments, dorm rates are comparable to what student renters find in the area. Students also cannot stay in the dorms during winter break without paying a fee.

Not only is it often more expensive to live on campus, but it’s also more difficult to rent with huge demand. University residential halls were nearly 99 percent full in 2012-13 and the University offers the second-lowest amount of on-campus housing in the Big Ten, the Daily reported in May.

The University could expand its most affordable options, such as expanded dorms, in order to match trends in student housing. Many students share more expensive luxury apartments to keep costs down and take advantage of amenities they can’t find in dorms.