Trustees to vote on increasing room and board rates 3.9 percent

At today’s Board of Trustees meeting, trustees will discuss and vote upon whether to increase room and board rates by 3.9 percent for the 2013-14 academic year.

Bob Patterson, the chief financial officer of Residential and Hospitality Services, said this is the smallest increase in 13 years and is the result of debt the university has accumulated for residence and dining hall renovations.

This increase will raise the standard double occupancy silver unlimited meal plan rate to $8,806 ­— increasing by $330. The on-campus Spartan Village and University Village apartment complexes have no price increases.

Trustees Brian Mosallam and Dianne Byrum said they will vote for the increase, and see it as necessary to maintain operational costs and pay back debt.

“It’s pretty much in line with inflation and less than what it’s been in the past,” Mosallam said. “(MSU is) trying to do the best that they can to keep the costs down … and they’re very concerned about tuition and room and board.”

Mosallam had no information about possible tuition increases for the next academic year, he said.

Residential and Hospitality Services, or RHS, currently has $216 million in debt from renovations since 2000, said Kat Cooper, communication manager for the Vice President of Auxiliary Enterprises. In the 2012-13 fiscal year, RHS accumulated $28 million in debt, which was planned for in their 2008 strategic plan, she said.

Recent building renovations include The Vista at Shaw, which reopened in January at a cost of $14 million, and the Armstrong and Bryan residence halls in Brody Neighborhood, which currently are closed until revamping is completed. Together, they cost $31 million and are slated to reopen in July.

“Many of our residence halls were built in a housing boom in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and they are all coming to a time that they need work at the same time,” Cooper said. “We are just working to make sure that they are a place that a Spartan wants to be, and where a Spartan in 10 years wants to be.”

She also said it is a priority to keep the on-campus housing costs competitive with off-campus apartments. Cooper said it is difficult to compare the costs “apples to apples,” because MSU’s room and board includes food, Internet, cable and a close proximity to residence hall neighborhood engagement centers, among other amenities.

Communication sophomore Adam Javery lives in Wonders Hall and said he understands why there is a need for a rate increase but feels as if it should not be out of the students’ pocket to compensate for renovation costs.

“I do see renovation as a good thing, but I don’t know if they should take that to the room and board prices,” he said.

Mosallam said, after a briefing of MSU’s 2013-14 budget, there were no other alternatives but to set the increase.

At the meeting, the trustees also will vote on an approval to proceed on construction of the on-campus Bio Engineering Facility and the 25-megawatt electrical duct bank to help power the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB. Mosallam said he believes both of these construction projects also will be approved by the board.

The public meeting is at 9:30 a.m. today at the Hannah Administration Building.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The State News.