Published in 2013 in the K-State Collegian
There’s a good chance K-State students living on campus can expect to have the price of their living accommodations rise next year, though final approval from the Kansas Board of Regents is currently pending. K-State isn’t the only public university in the state that will be raising its dorm rates, however; KU, Wichita State, Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State will also be implementing a price escalation upon approval.
While it is fairly unsurprising to see dorm rates increase over time, it is noticeable that K-State’s change is the second highest among these six regent schools. It is topped only by Wichita State’s plan, which is uncomparable to previous years because of the development of a new housing facility.
According to Housing and Dining Services, after the price increase, the standard room rate with a 15-meal plan will climb from $3,830 per semester to $3,980, an increase of 3.9 percent. A comparable plan at KU will see an increase of only 2.5 percent as $3,851 per semester becomes $3,948.
The price increase was said to be needed partially due to increased costs associated with living in Manhattan.
“There are several factors,” Derek Jackson, director of Housing and Dining Services, said.“One is that utilities are going up. Electricity went up 6 percent, water has been raised 33 percent each of the last 3 years, price of gasoline has gone up, and because of the drought and the increase in gasoline prices, food prices have gone up. We went from paying an average of $300,000 a year for water to more than $700,000 a year. We’re in the position where everything that we have to buy keeps going up.”
Another factor is the need to improve and repair on-campus living facilities.
“Part of the price increase is to cover the cost of future and current infrastructure needs,” Jackson said. “We’re building a new residence hall and a new dining center. This summer we’re replacing the pipes and roofs at Boyd Hall and Putnam Hall, we’ve replaced the heating and air-conditioning system in Moore Hall, and Marlatt and Goodnow are also going to be getting renovations.”
Jackson went on to explain why it is difficult to compare K-State’s housing options with KU’s, or any of the other universities’ plans.
“It’s difficult to compare apples to apples, because they don’t have the same apples that we have,” Jackson said.
While the rates for basic amenities at both KU and K-State are commensurate, the number of students opting for more luxurious accommodations differs drastically.
According to Jackson, about 70 percent of K-State’s dorm dwellers live in standard dorm rooms, with the other 30 percent occupying the more expensive suite style dormitories. On the other hand, only 20 percent of on-campus students at KU live in standard dorm rooms; the majority elect to live in more expensive rooms.
“KU has 1,100 rooms at their lowest rate,” Jackson said. “We have 3,000. When we go to the board of regents and ask for a rate increase KU will say, ‘I need a 2.6 percent rate increase across the board.’ So they take an extra 2.6 percent from the 20 percent that are their lowest rate, as well as the 80 percent that are above that line. For us, the lowest rate is the bulk of our rooms and we price our highest level amenities differently than our lowest rates.”
Because KU has so many students in higher priced accommodations, they can apply a lower percentage increase than K-State when trying to produce a similar increase in revenue.
To accompany the price increase, K-State has also made budgetary cuts, primarily in staffing.
“When a position becomes open we evaluate the position and ask ourselves, ‘is it needed?’” Jackson said. “Sometimes we’ve condensed two positions into one. Sometimes we’ve changed the level of responsibility or pay for a position.”
Despite the increase in price, Jackson said he doesn’t anticipate a drop in the number of students wanting to live on campus.
“The last eight or nine years we’ve had overflow,” Jackson said. “This last year we turned away almost 500 students who wanted to live with us.”
This sentiment was shared by several students currently living on campus.
“The price increase probably wouldn’t effect my decision much,” Nicole Dearing, freshman in fine arts, said. “I don’t have a vehicle, so I have no other way to get around. It’s also easier to eat here and everything is close to my classes.”
Some students said they would consider living off campus if the price of living on campus became too much.
“I would be influenced by an increase in price,” said Kathryn Wilson, a senior in animal science, who has lived in the dorms throughout her time at K-State.
Even though Wilson plans to graduate this year, she said she would move out of the dorms if the price increased as much as 13 percent.