• Brendan Borders | Staff Writer

GC housing cost: 6th highest for GA public colleges

GC has the sixth highest housing rate out of the 25 schools in the University System of Georgia for the 2018-19 year.

A student living in a four-person suite on central campus will pay $3,425 per semester and $6,850 per year. Should a student stay on West Campus as a freshman in a four-person apartment, they will pay $4,555 for six months and $9,110 per year.

“When we look at GC as far as how we price ourselves, I have never desired to be the cheapest,” said Larry Christenson, the executive director of housing at GC. “It’s the same analogy of asking if you want the cheapest car? Well, no. Do you want the Lamborghini? Well, no. Most people want something somewhere in the middle. We have always under my leadership looked at that 75th mark as where we want to price ourselves.”

At the University of Georgia, staying in Busbee Hall with four bedrooms and two baths like at GC, a student will pay $3,371 per semester and $6,742 per year, $108 less per year than GC.

Much like a family business, GC university housing functions similarly. Every four to eight years, a roof on a dorm needs replacement. Christenson said that the cost of each roof replaced is around $250,000.

“This summer out at The Village, we knew we needed to start doing some work out there, so we did three roofs, well over a million dollars, and we replaced all of the air conditioning units in 1, 2 and 3,” Christenson said.

However, staying in a four bedroom, two bathroom suite at the Bellamy, an apartment complex near campus, a student will pay $3,330 for six months and $6,660 per year.

“Some students will look at that [housing price] and say, ‘Yeah, I can be cheaper off-campus,’ and I will never argue that not to be true,” Christenson said. “The off-campus price is always lower. They don’t have a full-time plumber, a full-time electrician, a maintenance person, 24/7 cops, buses running, which is not part of the residence halls but part of our budget. It’s all those kinds of things that have added cost that they don’t have.”

Christenson said that GC has changed quite dramatically over the years, especially in the time from Dr. Rosemary DePaolo, the president of GC from 1997- 2003. Part of GC’s initiatives were to revamp the dorms on campus, which followed included the demolition of the former Napier, Adams and Wells halls.

In their place, brand-new dorms were built under the same names, and Parkhurst and Foundation halls were added in February of 2003. During this administration housing quickly moved away from linoleum oors, hard mattresses and communal bathrooms, to suite-style living today.

Sophomore Jessica Gratigny, a mass communication student, lives in a single suite in Foundation Hall. She shares a bathroom with her suitemate and pays $3,513 per semester and $7,026 per year.

“This is my second year living here [in Foundation],” Gratigny said. “With that price it includes water, electricity, internet, and it is pretty safe here, but I guess the only disadvantage is that people who live in apartments off-campus have more room with a kitchen and patio. Another advantage is that it is close to campus. Like I know some people have to drive or take a bus, like if they live at Arcadia.”

One part of the dorms students often wonder about is how full the dorms actually are. Mark Craddock, the associate director of operations explained that at the beginning of the semester, the residence halls are around 95 percent full, but because students drop out or because of financial reasons, the vacancy number slowly increases.

“We have less than 20 open spots,” Craddock said. “We had several upperclass students cancel their contracts within 10 days of move in, and then there’s no time to fill them.”

The numbers listed for housing follow a 3 percent increase from the original price of $3,325 in the 2017-18 year. The reason for this is because of a law in the state of Georgia about buildings on campus, that are not for educational purposes, have to sustain themselves financially.

When building a residence hall, University Housing has to borrow money from a private organization within the GC Alumni Association. That organization puts up the needed money to build, and each year University Housing reimburses the organization. However, because of interest on the money given, each year the price raises 3 percent.

“This is a model that is common through the state of Georgia because we cannot go to the state legislature and say, ‘We’d like to take out a loan,’” Christenson said. “They’ll say if it isn’t for academic purposes, you have to find another way to model it.”

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