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Too many students, not enough beds: How UK is combating undergrad housing shortage

Lexington Herald-Leader logo Lexington Herald-Leader 8/5/2022 Monica Kast, Lexington Herald-Leader

As the University of Kentucky prepares for a record-setting number of freshmen this fall, it is in need of additional housing space for students.

UK is planning for more than 6,000 freshmen students to attend this fall, the largest first-year class in the university’s history, President Eli Capilouto said in June. With a large number of students applying to live on campus, UK has converted multi-purpose rooms in three residence halls into living spaces featuring the same amenities as other university housing.

There are more than 7,800 beds available for undergraduates to live on campus, including dorms, specialty housing and Greek housing that is currently vacant, said Andrew Smith, assistant vice president of auxiliary services. About 7,880 students have applied to live on campus, but that number will change as students finalize their plans for the fall semester.

The multi-purpose rooms were designed with the flexibility to become dorm rooms when UK updated its housing facilities, said Smith. Students living in the temporary units will pay a discounted rate for housing, about $664 less than they would for a standard dorm room.

“We have 16 units in three residence halls that are multipurpose rooms and can be converted on what we anticipate will be a temporary basis for about 35 students,” Smith said in an email last week. “These units match our other rooms in terms of amenities and basic design.”

Layouts will be similar to typical dorm rooms, and include a full bathroom and bedroom with a twin XL bed, small fridge and closet or wardrobe for each students.

Students who are placed in the converted multi-purpose rooms will be moved into regular housing units throughout the semester, Smith said, “as enrollment is finalized” and dorm rooms become open. Once availability in a standard room becomes available, students will have the option to move into a standard room, or continue living in the converted multi-purpose room.

“As housing cancellations happen throughout the cycle, UK will offer spaces to students as they become available,” Smith said. “We will be able to accommodate all students who applied by the deadline for housing.”

It will mostly be first-year students living in the temporary units, he said.

Around 86% of first-year students typically live on campus, Smith said. Freshmen are not required to live on campus their first year, and students are able to select their housing based on when they complete the housing application. June 1 was the deadline to complete the application.

The standard room rate for a 2-bedroom suite on campus is $4,982 per semester, according to information available on UK’s housing website. Students living in the converted rooms will pay $4,318 per semester. If a student moves from a converted room into a standard dorm room, they will continue to pay the discounted rate until the spring 2023 semester, according to the housing website.

UK has 19 residence halls, as well as several specialty living arrangements for students in living learning communities, fraternities, sororities and athletics, according to its housing website. Smith said the university is “in a good position to meet the living and learning needs of students who want to live on campus.”

“We know students do better academically — in terms of grades, involvement on campus and retention — when they live on campus,” Smith said. “We have tremendous momentum as a campus, reflected by the largest class in our history joining our community this fall. We are excited about what these students and newest members of our Wildcat community will bring to our campus.”

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