Housing rental rates for fall 2012 finalized

Joseph Basco

Higher housing rental rates for the fall 2012 school year have been approved by President Delaney October 12.

Paul Riel, director of UNF Housing and Residence Life, said the increase in prices will coincide with the anticipated utilities price hike.

“We expect electricity to increase because of the economy,” Riel said. “Utilities are such an unpredictable [cost].”

Jacksonville Electric Authority is the provider of utilities in all the residence buildings. JEA charges customers depending on their amount of utilities used per month.

Housing does not charge students for their rate of utilities usage. For students, utilities are included in the rental cost, regardless of how much water or electricity they use.

Riel said an ongoing goal of the housing department is to keep utility costs low by employing energy efficient lighting. For example, Osprey Fountains uses motion sensors to turn off lights when there are no occupants in any given room.

Riel said housing and residence life examines historical data to accurately gauge utility prices. The department compares the cost of residence building operations on an annual basis.

“When [the building is] fully occupied, [we study] what is the demand for hot water, heating and air conditioning,” Riel said.

Riel said building maintenance costs and upcoming projects are also considered when new rental rates are proposed. One is a clubhouse that would be located between Osprey Village and Osprey Cove.

The largest increase is 12.28 percent for triple occupancy rooms at Osprey Landing. Riel said the new rate, set at $2,240 per person per semester, would allow students to transfer to Osprey Cove or Osprey Crossings without a change in price.

The lowest increase is .35 percent for private occupancy, six-bed suites at Osprey Fountains, which is $10 higher than the previous rate.

Prices for triple occupancy rooms at Osprey Crossings, double occupancy six-bed suites and private occupancy five-bed suites have not changed.

A $5,400 private occupancy room at Osprey Village remains the most expensive. A $1,600 triple occupancy room at Osprey Hall is the least expensive.

These prices will coincide with the freshmen on-campus residency requirement, which requires all incoming freshmen to live on campus starting fall 2012. Some exemptions to the mandate include students who are 21 years old or older, or those who are single parents.

The department of housing and residence life pays an overhead charge for operating on campus to UNF.

Shari Shuman, vice president of UNF Administration and Finance, said the fall 2011 overhead percentage for housing and residence life is 6 percent. Riel said the overhead is for legal services, human resources, payroll and other services not within the housing and residence life department.

Students are concerned about where to live.

Savannah Bunting, a UNF biology freshman, said the dorm life presentation during orientation convinced her to live on campus. A resident of Osprey Hall, Bunting is dissatisfied that she does not have a private bathroom because the shared bathrooms are not always kept clean. But she said the close proximity to classrooms and activities like fishing at Candy Cane Lake make living on campus worth it.

“There’s so much to do — I’m never bored,” Bunting said. “If I want to go to the library, the gym or restaurants, they’re all close by.”

Robby McChargue, a UNF English senior living off campus, said he lived at The District on Kernan Boulevard during his first two years at UNF and enjoyed being close to campus. McChargue never had the option to live on campus because he owns a dog. He now lives in Orange Park with his grandparents for financial reasons.

“I wouldn’t want to live on campus because I don’t like sharing a room with anybody,” McChargue said. “I also don’t like spending exorbitant amounts of money to live [on campus] when I could spend less money to live somewhere with more amenities and more privacy.”