Shippensburg University’s updated housing agreement for the 2019-2020 school year requires that students with less than 60 credits live on campus. The list of exemptions is not long — meaning the only exceptions are for students who have a 3.2 GPA, are over 21, are married, live with a parent or guardian within 35 miles of campus or have a dependent child at home.
This requirement is intended to “enhance the academic and living-learning environment for students residing in the residence halls; which will increase the number of students living on campus and also will increase the number of students graduating from Shippensburg University,” according to an email from Danny Velez, interim vice president for student affairs. SU will join several other state system schools with the two-year requirement.
Nothing about living on campus is cheap. The cheapest housing option and meal plan, a “B-suite” with a 15-meal per week meal plan, costs $11,768 a year. This does not include the cost of tuition and fees, textbooks, suite upgrades, dorm necessities and other additional costs. To put this in perspective, living off-campus rolls in at $4,095 for a 10-month lease at Rocktowne and $5,760 for a 9-month lease at College Park.
The cost of living on campus is only increasing and with little reward for students. SU’s dorm perks like private bathrooms, double sinks and granite countertops may be nice on the surface, but they do not make up for the fact that it costs more than a year of tuition to live there.
Price is not the only disappointment of on-campus housing, either. Restrictions on decorations, noise, pets and recreational activities, 2 a.m. fire drills and mandatory room-checks make campus housing feel more like a punishment than the freedom that college is supposed to offer.
The intentions behind the housing agreement are in the right place — retaining students and improving the quality of students’ campus experience is something that deserves attention — but the two-year requirement suggests it is just a money grab for the university.
A college student’s financial decisions stick with him or her well into the future, and mandatory housing requirements could be forcing unnecessary debt onto a vulnerable person.
Students have little choice in the matter — either pay up, get the grades or drop out. A 3.2 GPA standard would require a student to get all B grades or higher.
College is a difficult transition for first-year students coming from high-school. A 3.2 GPA average is a lofty standard, even for upperclassmen. Only time will tell if the GPA standard and two-year housing requirement are effective enough to keep students at SU.
Otherwise, higher housing costs and tuition rates may be in our future.