by Geoff Larcom, Published February 19, 2013
YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University is pushing to continue the growth in on-campus housing that last fall saw 3,761 students choose to live on campus - the largest number at Eastern since 2003. A key part of that growth is due to Eastern's commitment to ongoing upgrades to its residence halls and dining facilities.
Following through on that commitment, the EMU Board of Regents approved an overall increase of 3.75 percent for room and board rates and 1.55 percent for apartments for 2013-14 at its regular meeting February 19.
The rate increase will enable housing and dining services to meet the increased costs of food and supplies while handling vital, deferred maintenance expenses and continued essential updates and renovations in housing and dining facilities.
"We are proud of our ongoing improvements in on-campus living and dining at Eastern Michigan," said Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin. "This increase enables us to continue investing in campus life and the overall residence hall experience. Eastern is a great place to learn and live."
Residence hall and dining improvements are funded through EMU's auxiliary budget, which is paid for though housing and dining fees.
Recent projects include new windows and stairways in the four First-Year Center residence halls, upgrades to the three hill area residence halls - Pittman, Hill and Hoyt - and new windows in the Brown-Munson complex. For fall 2013, Best Hall will be renovated for the incoming class.
Planned projects for the next five years could involve renovations to Wise, Buell and Downing residence halls, to the Westview Apartments and to the Eastern Eateries and Dining Commons.
Enhanced safety and security in residence halls has been a continuing focus, including the installation of electronic card readers on all residence hall entrances. The First-Year Center, which includes Walton, Putnam, Phelps and Sellers residence halls, uses swipe cards for exterior doors and for the corridor doors leading to the residents' rooms. Each room in the First-Year Center now has self-closing/self-locking doors that operate with a separate key access card.
The university also has invested in enhanced classroom technology and expanded wireless capability on campus.
The standard 18-meal, double-occupancy room will increase from $8,286 to $8,597, an increase of $311. Room and board rates are somewhat higher or lower elsewhere on campus, depending upon the facility.
Even with the increase for 2013-2014, EMU's housing and dining rates will likely remain among the lower room and board rates for Michigan's 15 public universities, most of which have yet to be announced.
EMU was the only university in the state to freeze tuition and room and board rates in 2010. Over the past four years, EMU has led the state of Michigan in tuition restraint, with an average increase of 2.86 percent.
This past fall, Eastern had the largest incoming class of new undergraduates in its 163-year history, with 5,076 students. The total, which includes first-time freshmen, transfer students, students pursuing a second degree, and other types of new undergraduate students, represents an increase of 6 percent from the previous Eastern record of 4,751 in 2001.
The entering freshman class was the largest in a decade with an enrollment of 2,595, compared to 2,130 at the start of last fall, an increase of 21 percent. The large increase in freshmen occurred despite a decline in Michigan's population from 10,050,847 in 2007 to 9,876,187.
The incoming freshman class is better prepared to succeed in college and is more racially and geographically diverse as well.