The University of North Texas Board of Regents voted Thursday to increase room and board rates starting in the fall.
Room rates will increase by 4 percent and board rates will increase by 2.3 percent. That’s an average increase of about 3.6 percent for room and board.
The increased revenue will cover salary and wage increases, corresponding payroll benefits, increases in operational costs, and maintenance and capital projects in the residence and dining halls, according to the board agenda.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s economic research service predicts food price inflation will increase by 3 percent to 4 percent in the coming year, according to the agenda.
An issue the regents and university leaders continue to talk about is the need for more residence halls to keep up with the number of incoming freshmen. Freshmen are required to live on campus.
Elizabeth With, vice president of student affairs, told regents that the university’s housing is at capacity this year.
There are no plans to build a new residence hall, but if the university did, the money would come from revenue bonds.
UNT wouldn’t need approval from the Texas Legislature to move forward with a residence hall but it would need approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
In order to build a new residence hall, UNT would need to increase its room and board rates considerably, With said.
The increases would be 10 percent to 15 percent to get the ball rolling, she said. Eventually, the university could scale back to 4 percent increases, she said.
“We’ve tried to keep costs low for students,” With said.
UNT has allowed older residence halls to pay for newer residence halls such as Honors Hall and Legends Hall, which were built in 2007, she said.
“We need to get away from that in the future,” With said.
About 15 percent to 16 percent of students live on campus, With said, adding that the number should be closer to 25 percent.
James Maguire, the university system’s vice chancellor of facilities, told regents during an update on the master plan that in order to accommodate 25 percent of the student population, UNT would need to add 3,300 beds to its existing 5,771 beds on campus.
He said university officials are looking for possible locations.
Of the about 4,400 freshmen, 4,000 live on campus, which leaves space for about 1,600 upperclassmen, With told regents. In the fall, an increase in the number of freshmen will mean there will be less room for upperclassmen to stay on campus.
“We know we are going to need more housing,” With said.
On Thursday and during the August meeting, regents discussed the possibility of requiring sophomores to live on campus as well, but there are financial and facility needs to make that happen.
“I’d like to see us have the capacity to accommodate all the underclassmen who find it attractive to live on campus,” Chancellor Lee Jackson said during the discussion.
With said it would be a culture shift to require students to live on campus two years.
“Retention is higher for students who live on campus,” she said.
The integration of living and learning is important, With said.
Steve Mitchell and Al Silva, UNT regents, both discussed the need for a social education.
“The social education you get off campus is not always desirable,” Silva said.
Mitchell said UNT needs to decide what percentage of students it wants to live on campus and come up with a plan for moving forward.
“We want to see more people living on campus,” Mitchell said. “How do we get there?”
“That’s music to my ears,” With said.
With told regents that UNT’s room and board rates are cheaper than those of its peers.
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BY THE NUMBERS
Beginning in the fall, room and board rates at the University of North Texas will be as follows:
• $1,875 for a standard double-occupancy room (College Inn)
• $1,930 for a first-tier double-occupancy room (West Hall)
• $2,135 for a standard double-occupancy room
• $2,200 for smaller single (College Inn)
• $2,571 for premium double spaces
• $2,700 for premium double with cooking facilities
• $2,860 for premium suited spaces
• $2,992 for premium suited spaces with cooking facilities
Board rates (excluding tax):
• $1,250 for a five-day meal plan
• $1,425 for a seven-day meal plan
SOURCE: UNT Board of Regents meeting agenda