Returning students choose to live on campus

Lobby of Residence Hall with students.

Living in the university residence halls isn’t just for first-year students. An increasing number of Colorado State University students are returning to live on campus because of the convenience and benefits.

Students have lots of choices as to where they’ll live in Fort Collins from one year to the next. What many students don’t realize is that the price of off-campus rent has been increasing dramatically over the past few years. And, there can be hidden expenses and challenges associated with living off campus including landlords, leases, managing utilities, roommate conflicts, and the challenges of cooking and taking care of a yard or a pet.

Returning to live on campus, both in the residence halls and in on-campus apartments, provides an alternative for academically focused students. CSU Housing & Dining Services promotes on-campus living options through the Live On campaign, which just completed its fourth year. The number of students returning to live on campus has increased from just over 400 in the first year of Live On to more than 1,800 this year. The number of transfer, graduate, and returning students applying beyond the Live On campaign has also increased, resulting in 3,000 non-first-year students living on campus this fall.

“Today’s residence halls are not the dorms of the ’60s and ’70s — there is a strong focus on learning, inclusion and creating a community that supports student development,” says Laura Giles, director of Residence Life. “Because of the Housing & Dining Services staff, students are supported in their development and have resources at their fingertips. The convenience of living on campus allows students the time to focus on their academics, involvement, and participation in campus activities and events.”

Benefits of on-campus living

Bar chart comparing grades for students who live on campus and off campus.
One of the advantages of living on campus at CSU is a higher GPA, for students at all levels.

National and CSU research repeatedly indicates that students living in residence halls have more developmental gains, higher GPAs, and greater satisfaction with their academic experience. Students have the opportunity to live with people of common interests and majors, and the campus setting also provides students with a level of support that can’t be matched off campus – emotionally, socially and academically.

But nothing tells the story like satisfied students. “Living on campus your second year is more independent than your first,” says former Braiden Hall resident Michelle Guida. “My RA was more hands-off and we all spent more time off campus. If you aren’t ready to commit to paying rent, finding roommates, or living far away, residence halls are a fun way to continue to grow as an upperclassman and also stay plugged in.”

LiveOn for free

Madison Cieciorka portrait

Madison Cieciorka was a first-year student living in Edwards Hall last year. She signed up to return to living on campus for her year two at CSU, and put her name into a random drawing for prizes through the LiveOn campaign. Cieciorka was in total shock when she learned that she had been selected for the grand prize: free room and board for the next academic year. She’ll be moving back into Edwards this week.

“I am so excited to continue here at CSU and thank you for making that easier on me, and my family’s wallet,” she said.

Students who decide to return to live in the residence halls after their first year can apply to be entered into the drawing – which also awards five $500 prizes – through Feb. 28.

The opening of the Aggie Village apartments in Fall 2016 created an opportunity for more undergraduate students to live on campus. The interest in these on-campus apartments has been very high; they opened full this fall with a waitlist.

According to Hosam Ahmad, assistant director of Apartment Life, the living experience at Aggie Village is quite different than you’d find off-campus. “It’s a convenient location with lots of amenities, independent and interdependent living, academically focused, and an intercultural exchange experience.”

Returning space in the residence halls

Students who choose to return to the residence halls have their first choice of their current room or another available space on campus including single rooms, the Year2@CSU community in Alpine Hall, and the loft-style rooms on the fourth floor of Parmelee Hall. Returning students can also apply for a number of different student leadership positions and employment opportunities within the halls.

The Aggie Village apartments are located on the south side of campus on Lake Street and provide individual, academic year leases. Three buildings house 973 beds in 461 units that are fully furnished and offer amenities like washers/dryers, dishwashers, and included utilities and WiFi. Aggie Village houses a mix of upper-class undergraduate and graduate students, visiting scholars, and post docs. About 75 percent of the beds are currently devoted to upper class undergraduate students, some of whom are Intercultural Connections Community (ICC) students. Students interested in studying abroad or pursuing careers in international fields are the target audience for the ICC.

“Students have their whole lives to live-off campus,” adds Giles. “Being a college student is a special time in their lives, and living on campus provides a space to be a student without taking on the ‘tasks’ of being a true adult.”