If you stay, you pay: Students charged to stay on campus during winter break

James Vaughn

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While most students are home relaxing in front of a fireplace and celebrating the holidays, Jeremiah Kinnett will spend winter break in his campus apartment – a break that’s going to cost him.

Housing and Residence Life has decided to charge students $150 if they choose to stay on campus during winter break.

The sophomore business administration major works at Lowe’s and said he won’t be able to get enough vacation time to go home during break.

“It shouldn’t cost us extra to stay in a room we’re already paying too much for,” he said. “The school makes over $2,000 a month on a small two-bedroom apartment.”

 

A four-person/two-bedroom apartment at USI costs students $2,014 per semester.

That means the university earns $8,056 per apartment per semester, which covers about a four-month time span.

“Most of my paychecks will go toward paying the school to stay, but I don’t have much of a choice,” Kinnett said.

He stayed on campus during winter break last year as well, but it didn’t cost him.

Housing and Residence Life Director Laurie Berry said winter break has never been calculated into the housing contract that covers the 16-week semester.

“It’s cost prohibitive at this point,” Berry said. “For years and years, we’ve been allowing people to stay without paying any type of rent for that.”

She said they needed to figure out how to let people stay and be able to cover some of what the costs are.

This year, winter break is 32 days.

“If we went with the regular rate that people pay, which is $20 a day, that would be about $600,” Berry said. “That’s way exorbitant.”

The decision was made for winter break because it’s a much longer break. They don’t plan on charging students to stay during fall or spring breaks, she said.

“It’s really that we have this month that we don’t have set up to collect any rent for, and now we have several people choosing to stay,” Berry said.

As of right now, they are not planning on making any exceptions, including international students.

But like everything else, they will look at it on a case-by-case basis, she said.

“Anybody can talk to us about their situation,” Berry said. “I’ll evaluate it and talk with my supervisor, and we’ll make those determinations.”

The idea to charge students has been in progress for at least two years. This year, Berry and her supervisor, Vice-President of Business Affairs Mark Rozewski, decided to implement the charge, citing the cost of utilities as the main reason.

The use of electricity, having security on campus, and having a professional staff in the Housing and Residence Life office costs money, she said.

“It’s not something that we just sat in the office and thought, ‘What kind of charges can we pass along to students?’” Berry said. “It really wasn’t something that was an easy decision to make.”

Students who do not register to stay on campus over break and are found in their apartments will be charged a $300 fee, which isn’t new, she said.

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