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FAU sees 10% drop in on-campus residency rates this Spring

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Both the Sun Sentinel and WPEC CBS12 News are reporting that FAU is experiencing a drop in occupancy rates for the first time in many years.

They interviewed numerous students who invariably cite the cost of living on campus. This is something that seems to be basically ignored by FAU; Dr. Brown waves it off by saying that South Florida has a higher cost of living than other places - which is true but let's not forget that FAU has some degree of control over that because they set the housing rates.

In some cases - such as Glades Park Towers and Parliament Hall - the price is high because they have to pay back on the $30M+ loan they took out to construct the thing (this is left out of both articles). IIRC the dorm loan repayments are comparable to the stadium payment of ~$1-3M/year. That's FAU's defense and it's obviously a fair argument. Of the eight dorms currently on the Boca Raton campus, four of them were built within the last 10 years (Parliament Hall 2013, Innovation Village 2011, Glades Park Towers 2007 and Heritage Park Towers 2004). FAU clearly still owes money on a lot of these buildings and rent covers that as well as maintenance, programming and staff salaries.

In each case I believe they take 30 year payment plans on new dorms which means that only Algonquin (built 1965) would be paid off at this point and be pure profit minus expenses. The next one to be paid off if they're all on a 30 year plan scenario would be University Village Apartments… in 2025.

(I'm not sure if the Business and Professional Women's house is paid off, although it wouldn't surprise me if it had been paid in full as a gift to the university... I can't seem to find info on that. Somebody help me out.)

We could theoretically charge less for Algonquin, which currently costs $2,966.25 for a single per semester, or $593/month. That's actually pretty reasonable, all things considered. Everybody seems to know somebody who got a good deal on a snowbird's house that they rented out or maybe 4-5 people live in one three bedroom house and split a $1500 rent (recently a homeowner complained that Boca citizens are finding it profitable to rent out their places to college students in single family neighborhoods) but if you want a single or even a double, it's hard to beat $593/month for rent in Boca Raton.

And that's the measuring stick that FAU used when they set the housing rates, comparing themselves to off-campus apartment complexes charging $1400-2800/month. That's partly where the baseline came from as well.

But $5100/semester for a single in Innovation Village Apartments North? Meaning $1020/person/month for rent and utilities? That's where students could definitely find better deals off-campus (and are). Leaving your parent's place and living on your own in college is The Next Step but it's also a luxury. If you're from Coral Springs and the best FAU can offer you is $1020/month for rent and utilities, you're obviously going to think long and hard about living at home 20 minutes away instead.

Back to the articles…

For what it's worth, UF's rate of $1808 quoted in the CBS12 article comes from Thomas Hall (built 1905) in a quad setup. So again, paid off, but yes, technically cheaper for the average student. Keep in mind also that there are something like 11,000 (don't quote me on this) apartment spaces for college students around campus and UF has to keep their dorm costs a little lower to compete with that. You can read more about Gainesville's issues here, where at one point companies went into "flat out panic" mode and "some operators were handing out free rent and concessions such as free laptops, gift cards, Xboxes and scooters... to set their property apart."

I lived in a 3 bedroom in Gainesville that went for $810/month. It was 30 years old and you could tell it was old and tired. But hey, it was a three bedroom for $810. That's what you charge to compete in that area when you have an older property. So age of the property is important to take into consideration when comparing something like Gainesville and Boca Raton.

That said, we do have apartment complexes scattered around Boca that are used by students and thus compete with FAU for residents… but not at the level of Gainesville. There are a lot of older properties, a lot of smaller properties and more opportunities to live off-campus there. We will get there someday, and FAU may fight projects like University Park to stave off the reality where off-campus complexes are a more credible threat, but until then rates will be high.

Let's just hope this is a wake-up call for FAU to get housing rates under control before we inch the rates up so high that nobody can afford to live on campus. We don't want to be the university that's unfairly pricing people out of a true college experience.

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You could almost anywhere in boca for under 1000 dollars a months your Avg 4 bedroom is like 2700 and most students will live 5 in a 4 bedroom. I don't know what studies FAU did even a place like Addision park is only like 800 a month.
Students live in winwood for like 500 a month.
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To clarify, I meant 1400-2800 for a 2-4 person apartment, not for a single individual's monthly rent. It would include upscale and downtown properties.

I found this, starting on page 15, but I remember seeing a different one. Perhaps it was University Park's study from their City Council meeting I'm thinking of. Covers the same area.

Anyway, this FAU one above (from 2009) talks about:

"Rental rates (assuming single-occupancy bedrooms), exclusive of utility charges, range from $594 to $1,145 per person per month. The least expensive unit type on a per-person basis (assuming single-occupancy bedrooms) was a three-bedroom apartment, which averaged $539 per month. The most expensive unit type, on
average, was a one-bedroom apartment, averaging $1,001 per month, assuming single-occupancy of the entire unit."

Prices fluctuate with the market but I assume these numbers have gone up a little bit.

Lexi (from Boca Students) is a realtor for college students and her site shows what's available… you can see that there are plenty of places for $500-600/person if you have at least one roommate. They're not specifically "student housing" but they exist if you know where to look.

P.S. I don't respond to guest posts. All guests are encouraged to register with the site.
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