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WMU room and board rates increase by 1.9 percent

by Cheryl Roland

April 8, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees approved a 1.9 percent increase in campus room and board and apartment rental rates for the 2011-12 academic year--the lowest housing increase since 2005.

"The change this year confirms the University's commitment to keep campus living affordable and attainable for WMU students," says Dr. Diane Anderson, vice president for student affairs. "Research demonstrates that an on-campus living experience results in better academic performance, increased connection with the university community and higher graduation rates."

The rate increase will not affect students who return to residence halls in 2011-12. As part of the Western Edge, WMU's Residence Hall and Dining Advantage Program will continue to ensure that rates for students living in traditional residence halls will not increase for four consecutive years. The program has saved families $1.2 million since its inception in 2008.

The new rates mean that a new student living in a campus residence hall and subscribing to the mid-level 15-meal plan will pay $8,045 for the academic year--up $150 over last year's rate. Students opting for the 10-meal or unlimited meal plans will pay $7,573 or $8,249, respectively. The rate changes will take effect at the start of the fall 2011 semester.

The trustees' move also means the rental for 361 on-campus apartments will increase by 1.9 percent. Beginning this fall, apartment rental rates will range from $597 to $875 monthly, depending on location and size and whether or not the units are furnished. The rate change means, for instance, a two-bedroom furnished Stadium Drive apartment will cost $744 per month, an increase of $14 monthly.

Additional residence hall and dining incentives will be offered for second-year and beyond students. The Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships will continue working together to offer qualifying students room grant scholarships. In addition, returning students with a grade point average of 3.25 or higher have the opportunity to live in single occupancy rooms at their applicable double occupancy room rates.

WMU currently operates 20 residence halls, five full service dining facilities, one carry-out dining facility, six cash dining operations, three apartment complexes and one residential complex. Last year, approximately 21 percent of main-campus students chose to reside in residence halls and 92 percent of degree-seeking, first-time freshmen chose to live on campus. The residence hall capacity for the 2011-12 academic year is 5,666.

The 361 on-campus apartments for students and student-families are located in three complexes and operated at 99 percent capacity during the 2011 academic year. The newest residential complex, the Western View, is set to open in August 2011 with a capacity of 330. The Western View is currently full for 2011-12, but interested students can sign up to be placed on a waiting list.

A strategic internal planning and budgeting process has allowed for significant incentives and discounts for students and families while spending $16 million since 2007 for renovations, repairs, safety and sustainability improvements--all without taking on debt.