Demand for campus housing increases among returning students

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 2, 2009 – For the first time in several years, Virginia Tech will not be able to offer housing contracts to all returning students who requested campus housing for the 2009-10 school year.

The housing office has 3,285 housing contracts to offer to returning students — only about 75 percent of the number of students who applied for housing — to make way for the next class of incoming freshmen. Contract offers are distributed based on a random lottery. At this time, approximately 375 students will not receive a first-round housing offer.

Each year, some students do not return contracts to the housing office, as they decide to move off campus or make other plans. After the Feb. 14 contract return deadline has passed, the housing assignment staff will determine whether additional contract offers can be made.

"We will be closely watching our predictive numbers as the deadline approaches and always attempt to provide housing to as many returning students as possible, said Ken Belcher, associate director for occupancy management. “However, we are advising those without a first-round housing offer to explore off-campus options, including the Off-campus Housing Fair being held Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Squires."

Demand for campus housing has increased with the number of applications to attend Virginia Tech. Also, the unexpectedly high number of accepted students who elected to attend the university last year led to 300 additional freshmen living on campus for the 2008-09 school year. Since freshmen request to return to housing at a higher rate, this resulted in more competition for the housing lottery, and this is the first in several years that the university will be unable to offer a contract to all students who requested one.

"Additionally, the affordability of on-campus housing is very attractive, particularly during the current economic downturn," said Belcher.

In addition, the forthcoming renovation of East Ambler Johnston residence hall has contributed to a shortage of housing supply over the next two years. A newly constructed residence hall, New Hall West, will open in the fall to offset some of the loss of beds, but the overall campus housing capacity will still decrease by 150 students.

“This will be a small price to pay for the long-term project, which will upgrade our residence halls with new HVAC systems and renovated student rooms, rest rooms, lounges, and programmatic areas to better meet the needs and expectations of the students of today and of the future," said Edward Spencer, vice president for student affairs.

Written by Melanie Harris.