On campus housing increases next year

Kate Murphy

Students will have to dig deeper in their wallets to live on campus next year.

For example, it will cost about an extra $430 to live in Centennial D, a two-person semi-suite with a private bathroom, or about $8,310 next year compared to $7,880 this year.

The Kent State Board of Trustees approved an on-campus housing increase of 5.42 percent for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year.

“We tried to be fair and cover our cost, but at the same time, not put it all on the students,” said Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services. “We understand that the price is very important to them and their families.”

Residence Services is considered an auxiliary, which means it receives no money from the state or university. All of its money comes from students living in the residence halls.

For the upcoming school year, about 75 percent of the proposed $40 million budget will be split into three parts: 18.5 percent for utilities, 22.2 percent for personal services salary and benefits and more than 35 percent for debt service.

“Debt service is basically a mortgage payment,” Joseph said. “It is the money we are paying back for bonds that we borrowed to build the Centennial Courts, Stopher Hall, Johnson Hall and all repairs we do within these halls.”

One reason for the increase is Residence Services paying back these large bonds.

“Several years ago, the housing market was suffering, and here at Kent State we had all these bonds taken out back in 2001 to do renovations,” said Joseph. “When everything went south, it impacted the bond rating and all the monies had to be refinanced. It resulted in a significant increase in our debt service repayment.”

The debt significantly increased the Residence Services budget. Joseph said a few years ago they predicted the budget for 2011. The budget is now $2.4 million more than projected.

The other factor for the increase is the push for all residence halls to have an entirely wireless Internet connection. Currently, 10 out of the 25 residence halls are wireless, and the rest will be finished before the Fall 2011 school year begins.

All the wiring, access points and necessary equipment will cost $1.3 million. Resident Services also pays the university for the utilities and technology needed. The costs relating to technology for both phone and Internet will increase by $500,000.

With the 5.42 percent increase, Residence Services will be using a deficit budget. Joseph predicts the department will be spending more money next year than they will be taking in, so this deficit budget helps cover the additional costs that cannot be covered by its revenue.

Jospeh said it is important for Residence Services to maintain a balance of paying costs and also maintaining fairness for students paying their way in college.

“We will be using this pot of money that was put away years ago which I called our fund balance to help cover our additional cost,” Joseph said. “If we passed on the entire increase to students, we would have been looking at a 10 percent or 11 percent jump.”

Contact Kate Murphy at [email protected].