Room and board rates will increase by 4.95 percent next year, as approved by the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents in a seven-to-one vote at the general meeting on April 17.
EMU Director of Financial Services Brian Kulpa said the increase will generate $1.386 million of additional revenue. Kulpa estimated that $600,000 will be allocated to housing, $540,000 to dining and $140,000 to university apartments.
According to a press release by EMU Director of Media Relations Geoff Larcom, the increase will translate to an additional $391 for students with the platinum meal plan living in a double occupancy room, thereby increasing living expenses from $7,895 to $8,286.
Thomas Sidlik was the only regent to vote against the increase, saying he wanted to maintain EMU’s affordability.
“The number-one reason that students move away from campus is their perception, rightly or wrongly, that campus is too expensive,” Sidlik said. “Therefore I cannot support the 5 percent.”
Larcom stressed that despite the increased rate, EMU is and has been competitively priced among peer institutions. According to the press release, EMU’s “aggregate room and board rate increase of $543 over the past three years is the second lowest in the state.”
Furthermore, this year EMU’s room and board rate was ranked 10th out of the 14 public
universities in Michigan with housing facilities.
Regent Roy Wilbanks voted in favor of the increase but said he had reservations, stressing the increased revenue was budgeted too loosely.
Kulpa said there were variables that made budgeting inherently uncertain, citing a 5 to 7
percent range in labor costs and a 5 to 8 percent range in the cost of goods.
Despite this, Wilbanks said he expects a more thorough and rigid budget to be presented at the next regents meeting on June 19.
“You’re not going to get $1.4 million without a budget,” he said.
Wilbanks also said he had reservations about the increase because he thinks EMU has “done a relatively poor job in enrollment and a relatively poor job in marketing our dorms.”
Kulpa said there are benefits to living on campus and housing is actively trying to spread awareness of them.
“We’re out there marketing that message as much as we can,” he said.
Approximately 3,100 students currently live on campus and Larcom wrote the university expects 3,500 students will live on campus next year.
Kulpa said the increases to room and board rates are necessary in order to continue updating resident facilities to meet students’ needs.
“We’re focused on costs, but they’re old dilapidated buildings,” he said. “We try to give students what they’re demanding.”
According to Larcom’s press release, there are $8.8 million of projected repairs over the next five years awaiting approval by the Board of Regents. These would include renovations to Best, Wise, Buell and Downing halls, to the Dining Commons, Westview Apartments and the Eateries.
The first project planned for this year is a $2 million renovation of Best Hall. Kulpa said this will include updates to the furniture, fixtures, windows, Wi-Fi, the lobby and front desk. He also said the current door locks will be replaced with a swipe card system like the one in the First Year Center.