UA offers incentives to make room for freshmen in dorms
Residence Life anticipates a larger number of incoming freshmen moving into the dorms this fall. In order to accommodate as many first-year students as possible, a limited-time, limited-availability incentive will be offered to returning students to give up their dorm space and move off campus, Residence Life officials said.
Undergraduate hall capacity on campus ranges from 6,600 to 6,900 students, including bed space for 239 resident assistants over 22 halls divided into three neighborhoods.
Typically, about 80 percent of the residents in undergraduate halls are first year students, but Residence Life anticipates exceeding that mark this fall with the increased size of the incoming class of freshmen and are trying to entice returning students to live off campus, officials said.
“Our goal is to elicit cancellations from returners, so in partnership with our off-campus housing featured-list properties, we are offering a generous incentive to get returners to say yes,” said Nicholle Zarkower, director of administrative services for Residence Life.
Incentives such as a gift card to the UofA Bookstore were used to get second year and above students to move out of the dorms to accommodate incoming freshmen. Students who opted out of their dorm spot were directed to off-campus UA housing.
As part of the incentive, Residence Life offered an estimated 770 returning students a refund on their $150 application fee as well as a refund on their $200 security deposit. Returners willing to give up their bed space were also offered $500 in meal plan money and a $500 gift card to the UofA Bookstore, Zarkower said.
Incentives were also offered by off-campus housing partners, featured listers who have a contractual relationship with Residence Life, to help entice returning students to move out. Those incentives range from a month or two of free rent to a $300 Visa gift card, Residence Life officials said.
56 students have taken the incentive, which ended last week, to give up their space and move elsewhere.
“We do typically, most years, have full capacity,” said Dana Robbins-Murray, assistant director of marketing for Residence Life. “We create an extended housing program that allows us to accommodate more students and we do this most every year.”
Extended housing programs allow Residence Life to put students in temporary spaces like apartments or study rooms until permanent space opens up.
In 1999, Residence Life encountered a similar situation where dorm space was limited and they were looking at temporarily housing freshmen in a sorority house or a nearby hotel. This year is the first time in a few years where students were given incentives to change their living situations, said Zarkower.
Since 1999, two more residence halls have been built to accommodate the increasing number of incoming students, Robbins-Murray said, but as of now, the UA is not adding more student housing on campus.
“All of our studies show that students that live on campus at least one year have a higher GPA and have a higher success rate of graduating in four years,” Robbin-Murray said. “So we want as many students as we can to have the opportunity to live on campus.”