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Editorial: College students don’t need 2 years of dorms to be successful

February 26, 2021
Illustration by Daena Faustino
Illustration by Daena Faustino

A few months ago Michigan State University announced that, with some exceptions, second-year students will be required to live on campus. This is not the best option for students. 

By requiring students to stay on campus an extra year, they are expected to continue paying ridiculous room rates on top of other college expenses like tuition and books. 

According to the LiveOn website, room and board costs $10,522 for the academic year. This option is with the cheapest meal plan. If you were to upgrade to gold or platinum, the total would come to $10,672 or $10,822, respectively. 

Room and board also does not cover tuition, which is $14,524 for in-state students, and $39,830 for out-of-state students. 

The room rates listed above are for double rooms, which means if you wanted your own room — which most off-campus houses and apartments provide — you would be left paying even more. 

This requirement also uniquely affects international students. Room and board for international students totals $11,508 because of the three weeks between the fall and spring semesters. 

With the exception of those living in on-campus apartments, Owen Hall, Van Hoosen Hall and Williams Hall, all on-campus students are required to have a dining hall. Even if you remove the dining pass, the total cost of room and board is $7,448. 

To add insult to injury,  students only live on campus from the end of August until the end of April, which means they are only paying for housing for about 8 months. That means that rent and utilities alone, before any meal plan, adds up to over $900 a month. 

It is not reasonable to require students to have to pay exorbitant fees for two years. Attending college and university is already too expensive. Why would you continue to make it infeasible for students who may struggle to afford it as is? 

We know the justification comes from the fact that less second-year students are opting to live on campus and the fact that there is data that says students who live on a second year have a higher graduation rate. But that’s not enough. 

For more context on the data, an MSUToday press release said that the study was conducted from 2013 to 2016 and found that per class, 60 more people who stayed on campus a second year continued through schooling. That’s great, but again, it’s not conclusive enough. 

The data you are pulling from ignores the other aspects of life that can impact a person’s success in school. One key point the data ignores is that it makes sense that more students struggle in higher level classes that they take as sophomores, juniors and seniors: They’re supposed to be harder. 

It also ignores the general truth that college is expensive. Some students live off campus to try to reduce costs of living, but the cost of everything can still be too much, forcing them to have to leave. 

It’s true that housing faced one of the biggest budget deficits after COVID-19. It shouldn’t be up to your next set of students to make up those funds. Treat your students like adults and let them make the decision about what is right for them. 

The State News Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Evan Jones, Managing Editor SaMya Overall, Campus Desk Editor Karly Graham, City Desk Editor Sophia Kalakailo, Culture Desk Editor Kaishi Chhabra, Sports Desk Editor Joe Dandron, Copy Chief Mark Ostermeyer, Audience Engagement Editor Julian Stainback, Multimedia Manager Tessa Osborne, Photo Editor Alyte Katilius, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Inna Mirzoyan and Staff Rep. Wendy Guzman.

This editorial is part of our Spring Housing Guide issue. Read the full issue here.

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