Freshman Housing Requirements

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: John Delaney, UNF President

I read with interest your response to the previous question about the effect of requiring freshman to live on campus. I ask, as a follow-up, whether the following data is being collected also:

1. The amount of student loans being incurred by students. It seems to me that the residence requirement may cause some students to take on extra loan debt (and this may become either a hurdle to completion or a difficulty later in life).

2. Whether UNF is seeing an increase in the number of students who transfer to UNF from FSCJ as sophomores, meaning they did not spend their first year at UNF. Such students likely received a weaker academic (and social) preparation during their first year of college and as such may have difficulty adapting once they get to UNF; not to mention the financial impact on UNF of a smaller freshman class size.

In short, are there unintended consequences to this policy that may not have been examined?

 

Written response from the President’s Office:

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

December 14, 2013

Dear President Rakita;

At the November Faculty Association meeting, someone asked a set of anonymous questions about our policy on mandatory housing. I appreciate the individual’s recommended metrics for tracking our success in improving the UNF students’ educational experiences and increasing our six-year graduation rates:

I read with interest your response to the previous question about the effect of requiring freshman to live on campus. I ask, as a follow-up, whether the following data is being collected also:

1. The amount of student loans being incurred by students. It seems to me that the residence requirement may cause some students to take on extra loan debt (and this may become either a hurdle to completion or a difficulty later in life).

2. Whether UNF is seeing an increase in the number of students who transfer to UNF from FSCJ as sophomores, meaning they did not spend their first year at UNF. Such students likely received a weaker academic (and social) preparation during their first year of college and as such may have difficulty adapting once they get to UNF; not to mention the financial impact on UNF of a smaller freshman class size.

No doubt, both of the measures can help inform our analyses of the mandatory housing policy.

From the very start, we have worked hard to find additional funding to help students who face financial need. We want to maintain access for students who meet our admissions standards, but who come from homes where economics will play a major role in whether they can attend UNF.

When we look at loans for students who entered in fall 2011 versus fall 2012, we find an increase in the overall percentage of students with loans: 32.27 percent to 41.99 percent. The increase occurs for students living on campus (39% to 44%) and those living off campus (22% to 26%). The average amount of loans for students living on campus decreased slightly ($2,670 to $2,649), while the average loan for students living off campus increased more dramatically ($2,243 to $2,641), in part because some of these students walked away from institutional support for housing. UNF has a track record for the percent of, and averages for, student loans being well below national and state averages. The current numbers keep us below these averages. But as the questioner states, these are numbers we need to monitor closely. And to the degree possible, we need to keep these loans as low as possible.

With regard to transfers, in fall 2012 we had 119 lower division transfers Equal Opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action Institution from state colleges. These students constituted 0.9 percent of our undergraduate student body. In fall 2013 there were 156 state college transfers at the lower division. These students made up 1.2 percent of our undergraduate enrollment. There was 0.3 percent increase. This could be a natural fluctuation or it could represent a stable or growing, albeit very small, increase. We will need to pay attention to this metric as we examine our success in changing the character of the university.

In a final note, I would like to remind the questioner and others who are concerned with the financial impact of fewer students on campus, that our failure to improve our six-year graduation rate will have a significant impact on future performance-based funding. We need to pay even closer attention to this metric and the funding that comes with or may be taken away as a result of increases or lack of increases in graduation and retention rates. The evidence is compelling that commuter campuses don’t fare as well as more residential campuses. In addition, we don’t do our students or our community a favor by admitting students if we can’t see them through to graduation.

Respectfully, Tom Serwatka.

Equal Opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action Institution.

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