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Too Many College Students, Not Enough Dorms [AUDIO]

New Jersey colleges and universities are building more dormitories, but they can’t keep up with the demand from students. It’s a problem New Jersey has been struggling with for years.  

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“As you build more dorms on campus, it’s augmented by a more robust extracurricular life, so more students want to live on campus because there’s more going on there, which drives the demand,” said Paul Shelly, director of communications for the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities.

While residential capacity on New Jersey campuses has increased by about 5,000 beds over the past decade, schools have to be careful not to overbuilt because there are times when demand decreases for dorms, such as during an economic downturn.

“It’s an issue of approximation and trying to correctly target the amount of need that’s out there without overestimating it. It’s important to realize at one time these were mainly commuter colleges and they had very limited residential capacity on campus,” Shelly said.

Colleges and universities have formed partnerships with private companies to get dorms built. Through these partnerships, a private company will build a dorm on campus, make a certain profit and then the ownership of the building will revert back to the school, usually after 20 years.

What happens if there’s a long waiting list for dorms?  Shelly said officials are looking at other options, including housing students in hotels.

“The fact that more and more students want to go to school here and live on campus is good news, but the bad news is not all students can get in at all times when they want to,” Shelly said.


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