The Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business, and Capital Planning recommended approving a 4.27 percent increase on the room and board rate. The full board will vote on the recommendation — $4,885 per semester — tomorrow at its regularly scheduled meeting in Hershey. This number includes a standard double room and the most common meal plan.
Overall expenses for Housing, Food Services and Residence Life are projected to increase by about $8 million. No state or tuition funds are used for construction, maintenance of facilities, or the operations of the housing and dining program. Money paid directly for food and lodging are the only funds tapped.
Gail Hurley, associate vice president for Auxiliary and Business Services, cited the projected rise in food and utility expenses and necessary facility maintenance as reason for the increase. Food costs are expected to increase by 2.3 percent, which is lower than Consumer Price Index forecasts for next year due to cost-control efforts. The aggregate increase for utilities is projected at 3.75 percent, with the largest increases expected in gas, sewage and water.
Property expenses, stemming from deferred maintenance for facility renewal and new construction, are estimated to increase by $4.3 million or 7.21 percent. Other expense increases for 2014-15 are expected in maintenance, supplies, salaries and wages, and Residence Life operations.
With the popularity of off-campus apartments, Hurley said modifications are necessary to keep on-campus living attractive to prospective and current students. It is difficult, however, to renovate several buildings at once because of the limited bed space availability, so the process is slow.
“We have a large and seriously aging inventory that lacks some critical student amenities, such as in-room wireless capability, air conditioning, flexible furnishings and bathroom privacy,” Hurley said.
The ten-year plan includes renovating South Halls, East Halls, Redifer Commons, and Pollock Halls. The goal is to do two buildings per year or about 600 beds annually. Also included in this plan, the university will upgrade card access readers, install networks for in-room wireless capability, and install surveillance cameras in public areas and entrances.
Penn State room and board rates are comparable to other Big Ten schools. University residence halls and apartments accommodate more than 18,000 students at University Park, Altoona, Beaver, Berks, Erie, Greater Allegheny, Harrisburg, Hazleton, and Mont Alto.
The Board of Trustees will vote on this recommendation tomorrow at 1:30 at the Hershey Medical Center. We’ll keep you updated on this and other announcements at the meeting.