Dorms at Kent State Over Capacity for Fall Semester
More than 6,300 students will be living on campus when school starts later this month
It's a familiar problem: overcrowding in the residence halls at Kent State University.
This year marks the fourth year in a row when more students than there is room for will be living on campus at the start of the school year.
Betsy Joseph, director of Residence Services at Kent State, said they expect to start the school year with all 6,260 beds on campus full and another 100 or so students in "transitional housing" for a total occupancy of 101.5 percent.
"We have identified approximately 130 spaces in the residence halls that will be converted into what we call ‘transitional housing,'" Joseph said in an email. "Transitional housing spaces are rooms on student floors that we normally use as lounge space for students."
The residence hall overcrowding should come as no surprise.
Kent State is expecting its biggest freshman class ever at the Kent campus this fall and stopped accepting submissions for fall this summer. The previous record for the freshman class was set in 2009 with 4,030.
And enrollment records have continued to fall in recent years. In spring 2011, Kent State set an all-time high for spring enrollment at 39,936. That number compares with 38,196 in spring 2010 — the previous record for spring enrollment.
In the fall, the university set an all-time high for total enrollment at 41,365 across all eight campuses — making Kent State the second-largest university in Ohio behind only Ohio State University.
In the same time frame, since 2009 Kent State has torn down or repurposed several of its residence halls. Seven of the Small Group dorms near the intersection of Loop Road and Summit Street were torn down in 2009, and this summer the university started closing its Allerton Apartments as it prepares to demolish the entire complex by 2015.
And the former Harbourt and Heer residence halls near the Kent State Ice Arena are being renovated into administrative offices.
So with all these new students, is Kent State planning to build new residence halls to house them?
"At this time, Kent State has no plans to build new residence halls in the near future," Kent State spokesperson Emily Vincent said.
Joseph said the university is working with students who have to live in lounges, or transitional housing, this fall because of the overcrowding. Lounge spaces converted into rooms are priced 25 percent lower than the cost of a standard double room.
"We have reached out to some upper-class students and offered to release them from their housing contract in an effort to open up some more beds for freshmen," Joseph said. "In mid-July, we also had to stop accepting housing applications from anyone other than new freshmen who meet certain criteria."
All the transitional rooms have the usual amenities of regular rooms, Joseph said, but three to four students will live in a converted lounge until another room opens up later in the semester through attrition as students drop out or transfer to other schools.
And though the dorms are crowded, there are benefits to living in a residence hall, Joseph said.
Students who live on campus have a higher grade point average than their counterparts who live off campus. And students living on campus have a higher persistence rate — meaning they continue taking classes towards eventual graduation — than their off-campus counterparts, according to data provided by the university on its website.
"Most institutions, if they have a residency requirement at all, only require students to live on campus the freshman year," Joseph said. "We see real benefits academically to living on campus the first two years."