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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Frequently Asked Questions About the Limited Number of Spaces Available for Returning Students

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/reslife/construction/faqfor11-12parents.html

My daughter is a freshman and was told she won’t be able to live on campus next year. During Orientation you told us that students do better when they live on campus. What's changed? We would like to see her stay on campus so she can remain successful.

First year students achieve higher grade point averages and are more likely to return to the University when they live on campus. We comment on this at Orientation because some families have not yet made a first-year housing decision, and this information can be helpful in making that decision. 

So why are you telling current residence hall students that there are a limited number of spaces for returning students to live in the residence halls next year?

It would be ideal to offer housing to every student who wants to live on campus. Several issues limit our ability to do so.

  1. Minnesota State Mankato is a popular place, and students want to be here. Consequently, the freshman class has grown over the last few years. It’s important for us to provide housing to support a successful college transition for these incoming students.
     
  2. While we do not require first year students to live on campus, this year, 90% of first year students have chosen to live on campus.  A few years ago, 85% of first year students stayed with us.

    Consequently, we are now housing a higher percentage of a larger class.  In addition, the proportion of second year and older students.
     
  3. Gage will be closed in late summer 2012.  For more on this process, see Gage Decommissioning.

Now, wait a minute!  If more students want to live on campus, why would you close a building, especially a big one?

Through our master planning process, we have studied the following factors:

  • The condition of the Gage facilities
  • Financial methods to pay for renovation and new construction -  See Financial Planning.
  • Student and parent expectations for contemporary amenities including temperature control, privacy, sound attenuation, adequate electrical service, and storage space within the room 

In 2003, following an extensive study of the building, we determined that Gage would be decommissioned rather than renovated, and we’ve been managing the building with this goal in mind. We have occupied Gage as long as the existing building systems (heating, plumbing, elevators, electric) have responded to effective maintenance. At this time, these building systems have lasted well beyond their ‘useful life.’ Safety mechanisms are in place, however system malfunctions are more frequent and disruptive to student residents. Consequently, our facility advisors recommend that we do not use this building after the current academic year.

Didn't you see this coming? You said you decided nine years ago that you were going to close Gage.

Since determining in 2003 that Gage would be decommissioned, we have created a plan to replace the 1,100 Gage spaces.

  • In 2008, we opened the 608-bed semi-suite style Julia Sears Residence Community.
  • For Fall 2012, we will open the 300 bed Margaret R. Preska Residence Community, currently under construction.
  • For Fall 2012, we have added the 250 bed Stadium Heights Apartment Community to the University’s housing portfolio.

If you've completely replaced Gage, then why doesn't everyone fit on campus?

Because the demand to live on campus has increased.

Then why don't you build some more?

We do have plans for future construction, and these plans are made in concert with our revenue and expense projections.  See Renewal of the Residence Communities on the North Side of Campus and Residential Life Financial Planning.

OK, so you have reasons for what you are doing.  But what about me/my student?  Is there any chance they could live on campus?

On campus housing for returning students is very limited for fall 2012.

Each student who participated in the October room draw process (and those who have added their names to the waiting list since that process ended) received a number that essentially tells them their place in line.  250 current residents were offered an opportunity to live on campus next year.  We anticipate that most, but not all, of these students will make a reservation with us by their January 31 deadline.  In February, we will begin to offer the remaining spaces to those on the waiting list.  We will contact those students by email at their MavMAIL address.  We will post the status of students on the waiting list on our website.

Are you doing anything to help students find off-campus housing?

Yes.  We provide a list of local apartment options, including a searchable database of features and a comparison guide to help students evaluate options and amenities.  We also invite local apartments to participate in Housing Fairs held on campus.  Your questions about off-campus housing options can be answered through our Off-Campus Housing website. Off-Campus Housing

It's more expensive to live off-campus, isn't it?

Like so many things, it depends on what you choose.  There is a range of prices in on-campus housing, and there is a range of prices in off-campus housing.  To assist students in comparing apartment amenities and prices, we have developed this [PDF] consumer guide (199 KiB).

Can I use my financial aid to pay for off-campus housing?

Yes, you can! When you fill out your FAFSA, you will indicate whether you intend to live on or off campus. Either way, there is a housing cost figured into your cost of attendance. Your award amounts may be slightly different based upon which of these you select. The difference is not huge. If you have lived on campus, you know that your housing bill was previously paid directly out of your financial aid. When you live off campus, you become a middle agent and are responsible for making sure that the rent actually gets paid. After your tuition and fees are deducted from your financial aid, the balance will be sent to you via a check or direct deposit. You can use that money for whatever you want, but it is intended to cover your school-related expenses. 

If my son/daughter lives off campus, may they eat in the dining hall?

Yes.  Students who live off-campus may eat in any of our campus dining facilities, and they may choose from a variety of meal plans.  Meal plans are not taxed, so students on a meal plan save 7.5% campared to cash or bank card customers.  Off-campus meal plans are tailored to students who expect to eat just a few meals on campus each week.  In addition, students who live off-campus may purchase the same meal plans that are available to residence hall students.

You didn't tell us this when we came to Orientation in Summer 2011.  I'm worried about the families that are coming next summer.  What will you tell them?

First of all, an apology.  We pride ourselves on accurate communications, and we did not achieve that for you.  We were continuing to develop the fall 2012 options through early October 2011, and announced information as it was ready.  We do not collect a housing pre-payment unless we can guarantee a space for the student.

Regarding summer 2012 Orientation participants, we will tell them that we have limited space for returning students, and we'll direct them to the resources currently on our website.  Prospective students and their parents can also read this information on line now.