COLUMBIA, MO. (AP) - In an effort to raise funds, the University of Missouri plans to increase enforcement of a housing policy that requires first-time freshmen to live on campus.
The proposal is part of a budget plan approved last week by University of Missouri system President Mun Choi. The proposal says the Division of Student Affairs could generate $750,000 by more strictly enforcing the policy, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
A 10-story apartment tower with 430 beds, called The Rise, is under construction in Columbia and is advertising that it will pay freshmen to break the dorm contract, saying "living in the dorms is not a requirement."
Campus spokesman Christian Basi said first-time students are generally required to live in dorms, with some exceptions.
"We have learned, over years and years of studies looking at our students and students across the country, that students are more successful, are retained at higher rates and have higher graduation rates when they live on campus at least during their first year," Basi said.
Missouri charges $6,790 to $10,020 for dorm rent for a year and requires all students living in the dorms to have a meal plan priced from $2,840 to $3,760. Rent at the Rise lists for $689 to $1,499 per month, but those rates are being discounted with signing bonuses to attract tenants, leasing agent James Holloway said.
The housing policy applies to all first-time students younger than 20 who are enrolled for more than six credit hours. A married student, one with a dependent or living with parents, or a student who moves into a fraternity or sorority house can seek an exception. Students who live outside Boone County or with a non-parent relative also may request an exception.
To cancel a student housing contract before moving in, a student must pay a cancellation fee of up to $325. To move out of a dorm, a student must pay 40 percent of the remaining charges. The Rise is offering to pay the pre-move-in cancellation fee, Holloway said.
Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward will detail how the tighter enforcement will be accomplished at the University of Missouri Board of Curators meeting later this month, Basi said.
The university has closed seven residence halls because fall enrollment of first-time freshmen is expected to be more than 35 percent below the record set in fall 2015. The decline comes at the same time hundreds of new student apartments, planned before the enrollment drop, are being completed. The competition for housing upperclassmen has prompted some off-campus landlords to offer $1,000 or more to prospective tenants.
The enrollment decline combined with reduced state support has the university scrambling for new ways to raise revenue. The Columbia campus is facing $59.8 million in cuts, which are also intended to make $23 million available for reallocation to priority programs.
The Division of Student Affairs is also postponing or canceling plans for two new residence halls and a third floor expansion of the Memorial Union. And empty residence halls could be converted into housing for foreign students, campus visitors, or temporary offices.
Employment in the division will drop by the equivalent of 88 full-time employees in the coming fiscal year. The cuts include 46 positions in residence halls and 12.1 in dining halls.
Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com
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