Many students find themselves unsure whether or not to move off of campus.
Ferris junior criminal justice major Jessica Micakovic originally lived off-campus but decided to move on to campus her junior year.
“I think it’s beneficial to live on campus because it’s easier to meet new people, make friends, and know about upcoming events on campus,” Micakovic said.
A new policy for the 2014-15 year has been created to allow students more freedom to choose if they live on or off campus. Ferris students, including honors students, are now required to live in a University residence hall for two academic semesters unless the student reaches the age of 19 prior to September 1, 2014. The previous policy for the 2013-14 year required students to reach the age of 20 by April 1, 2014.
“[Ferris] was one of the last schools in Michigan to have that two-year requirement,” Director of Housing and Residence Life Bryan Marquardt said. “It’s been about a four to five year plan and what we did was listen to the students wants and needs. We felt, like other universities, that the first year is very important and the second [year], we felt, students should have that option of where they chose to live.”
Students have many different reasons why they decide to live on or off-campus.
“Many students find that off-campus options appeal to them in these regards; being watched less by staff members, less policy being enforced, cheap by-month rent payments, freedom to pay what you will for groceries, etc,” Mentley said. “Many students find that on-campus options appeal to them in these regards; cost of room and board, having utilities and repairs all inclusive, are generally in the end cheaper on-campus than off, closer to classes, less parking, etc.
According to Peak Properties Property Manager Kevin Tucci, students often chose to live off campus because the finances are much less. However, Ferris Assistant Director of Residential Programs and Services Lisa Ortiz believes that the extra money to live on campus comes with convenience and the “all-inclusive price has a comprisable cost to living off-campus.”
For the 2013-14 year, the cost for one year in a double room was $9,070 including a required meal plan, according to Marquardt. After the first year, students will now be considered “voluntary customers” that will provide incentives to students who live in residence halls, townhouses, campus apartments, and East and West Campus Suites.
The incentive for sophomores is $508 off both a double or single room rate. The junior and senior incentive is a single room for the cost of a double room.
“The typical [off-campus] rent with everything included is $450 [a month] where the dorms are much more,” Tucci said.
According to Taggart and Pickell Hall Director Emma Mentley approximately 10,000 students are enrolled at the Big Rapids Campus with around 3,200 living in on-campus housing.
Ferris sophomore pre-med major Danielle Metts is an honors student that lived in the dorms this year. Metts was under the previous housing policy that required honors students to live in the dorms for two years.
“If I was able to get out of the dorms this year I absolutely would have,” Metts said. “The dorm experience is great for one year but after that year I was ready to be in a larger place that was my own. The cost to live off-campus for one year is much cheaper than the cost to live on-campus for one year.”
Tucci believes that as a freshman there are benefits to living in the dorms.
“Your freshman year it is very important to get to meet people, not have to worry about cooking food, [or] worrying about lodging,” Tucci said. “Campus life gives you that.”
While Tucci believes that the dorms may be beneficial for freshman, he said that along with finances, students have other reasons to move off-campus. There are less rules when living off-campus and students have the freedom to choose if they want to live alone or with multiple friends Tucci said.
“As a student, the biggest trend I’ve seen is students wishing to move off of campus their second year,” Metts said.
Mentley has seen a “boom of excitement” for students who can now move off campus but believes that with the upcoming improvements and renovations to the dorms, many students will choose to stay on campus, regardless of the new policy.
According to Marquardt, there has not been a trend of students moving on or off campus. It has stayed at a flat rate for the last few years.
“So many people leave the residence halls more mature, holistically developed, culturally competent, and aware individuals,” Mentley said.