Housing rate increase may be used for renovations

Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

Eastern’s 2 percent increase in housing rates that will start next academic year is being implemented to compensate for the rising operating costs that Eastern is facing.

Paul McCann, the interim vice president for business affairs, said cost increases would be necessary for running Eastern’s operations.

“Food, utilities, maintenance, repairs, all those kinds of things would be factored in,” McCann said. “Then on the other hand you’ve got the dining halls and after the food costs, you the personnel costs and so you have to monitor those increases.”

McCann said if the minimum wage increases, the housing board would have to increase some of these wages.

“I think as it was talked about in the board that was to cover cost increases,” McCann said. “In general, there is concern about the minimum wage increase.”

Mark Hudson, the director of Housing and Dining Services, said if minimum wage goes up, Eastern would have ample room in its budget to cover those costs.

“When we developed the room and board rate, the conversation was that minimum wage was going to be raise up to $10 a hour,” Hudson said. “We built in enough money into the rate to cover that whole jump.”

Hudson said does not think the minimum wage will rise as high as $10.

“More recently, the governor has had other proposals and he’s talking about do we raise the minimum wage,” Hudson said. “They’re floating different ideas out there.”

Hudson said if the minimum wage does not increase, the amount that was budgeted for the increase would not be needed.

Both McCann and Hudson said the excess money would be used toward renovations for the residences halls.

“It’s an open process,” McCann said. “We deal with the students in trying to help set that rate, so I think it a fairly modest increase.”

McCann said the rate process is not hidden from the students.

“We review it internally, and then we take it to the housing board which is made up of students,” McCann said. “They review the potential increase and they sign off on that before we take it to the board.”

The numbers for Eastern’s current housing rates are $4,150 for the seven meal plan option, $4,335 for the 10 meal plan option, $4,498 for the 12 meal plan, and $4,679 for the 15 meal plan.

Next year, the rates will increase to $4,233; $4,422; $4,588 and $4,773 respectively. This is an average of almost $89 more than current rates.

The grant-in aid fee is increasing at 2 percent as well. Currently, grant-in aid comes to $15.15 per credit hour, so a full time students from 12 hours up would pay the maximum amount at $181.80.

“Students pay a student fee that is a grant-in aid fee, and that money is available to recruit students,” Hudson said. “For example, people of particular high academic achievement might be given some grant-in aid money.”

Aside from high academic achievement, students could receive grant–in aid for participating in things such as athletics, honors programs and student leadership.

“That money is used to recruit students so it offsets their expenses,” Hudson said. “All students paid for it through their fees, so all students contribute to this fund.”

Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].