New two-year living requirement costs students

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Most students now know SMU is changing to the residential commons model of student housing. They’ve heard about the faculty members in residence, the two-year live-on requirement, the house crests and the general Hogwarts feel to the system.

But what students haven’t heard much about is how much that two-year home will cost them.

Currently, students get to pick where they live, selecting the cheapest hall or most expensive based on preference. But starting in the fall of 2014, incoming first year class will be randomly sorted into the various halls.

The Board of Trustees has not decided whether or not to charge a uniform cost for the dorms because students can no longer choose. The board is scheduled to decide in December’s meeting, according to Jamie Hinz, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps.

If the board chooses not to make a uniform price, some students would pay drastically different amounts for housing. Right now, the range between the cheapest dorm Smith and Perkins and the most expensive options of Boaz, Mary Hay, and Peyton is $2,360. But with three new residence halls being constructed, that range could readily increase.

No matter what the board decides, the implications of living on campus a second year could be financially challenging for students.

Sophomores will no longer flock to the BLVD apartments across Central Expressway or the Remington on Hillcrest, but rather pay to live on campus another year.

Currently, 68 percent of students live off-campus in such housing options. But next year, the number will be closer to 50 percent. That’s a decrease of 18 percentage points for area renters.

The average cost of living on campus is $8,665. That is for the typical student who lives in a double room. The cost of living in a double apartment in the BLVD for the school year (August to May) is $7,050. That is a difference of $1,615 or 18.6 percent.

Students would not necessarily pay more for eating expenses as sophomores will be allowed to choose a on-campus meal plan with limited meals for $400, $4,600 less than the required freshman meal plan of $5,000.

Overall, though, students will pay more for housing their second year of college than second-year students have in years past by living off-campus.

But Student Body President Ramon Trespalacios says that the convenience is worth the added cost.

“It’s a different way of living,” he said. “Instead of paying your bills separately and managing your accounts, you pay one bill and the school gives it to you.”

Hinz thinks the live-on requirement will provide benefits that outweigh the costs.

“If you are on campus you are more likely to go to the library; you’re surrounded by academic things,” Hinz said.

Freshman Caroline Gurley is excited about the second year live-on requirement.

“It makes college a little bit easier because you do not have to worry about finding a place to live, paying for it, keeping it up, and commuting to campus everyday,” she said.

Students will hear more about the costs of living on campus for the required second year after the December board meeting.

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