The University of New Mexico’s Residence Life and Student Housing full-year contract rates are going up for the 2023-24 school year by $150 for traditional rooms and on-campus apartments, $80 and $120 for doubles and singles in suites, respectively, and $190 for apartments at Lobo Rainforest.
This follows significant increases in rates over the past four years with total increases of $560 and $1,510 for doubles and singles in traditional rooms, $660 and $1,610 for doubles and singles in suites, and $1,460 for on-campus apartments, and $1,750 for Lobo Rainforest since fall 2019.
The increase in rates is due to a variety of factors, according to Megan Chibanga, the director of Residence Life and Student Housing.
“Housing is responsible for paying for every cost it incurs, including the rising costs of utilities, maintenance on the buildings, student programming and events, student employee and staff salaries, and large-scale facility improvements and renovations,” Chibanga wrote.
Solis Lucero, a first-year student currently living in Santa Clara Hall, is concerned about the housing rates increase next year after they lost a scholarship. In the 2021-22 academic year, 81% of UNM students received financial aid, according to UNM.
“I wish that they considered the fact that not everybody has a stable income. Not everybody has a job. Not everybody has the financial aid that they need. And I wish that UNM really thought about the fact that not everybody has the same privilege,” Lucero said.
The decision to reduce rates was considered amongst other options, Chibanga wrote.
“RLSH also considers cost-cutting measures such as reducing staffing, working with our teams in Purchasing to assure we are getting the best prices possible on goods and services, implementing energy-efficient measures to reduce utility costs and exploring new partnerships that can offer mutually beneficial cost savings,” Chibanga wrote.
Rosalia Tolentino, a current resident in Coronado Hall, plans to move out next year because she can no longer afford current rates. She would have preferred to stay on campus, especially given the easy access to resources that on-campus housing can provide, Tolentino said.
“I can't really afford to live on campus, especially with the meal plans. So, me and my roommate found a place that would be about half of what we're paying right now. So I figured that was probably a better choice,” Tolentino said.
Graham Akoh, a student currently living in ResLife housing, said the nature of being on campus and the accessibility of resources justifies a higher cost compared to more affordable options near campus.
“I've tried to look for cheaper places outside of campus. But then again, it being on campus is a good resource because I don't have to drive to classes or I don't have to be late to class even though the price is increasing. It's still a good resource that I don't mind paying a little bit extra for,” Akoh said.
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The decision to increase the rates was outlined by RLSH in the budgetary strategy and then given to the Residence Hall Association, the RLSH Student Staff Council and the Student Affairs Leadership Team for thoughts, Chibanga wrote.
While the strides in scholarships, including recent funding from the state Legislature toward the Opportunity and Lottery scholarships, have helped take off some of the financial burden for students, Tolentino said that many students on campus still struggle with finances.
“College across the nation is just getting extremely expensive. And I feel like New Mexico is doing well, at least with the free tuition. But a lot of us still can't really afford much,” Tolentino said.
Lucero plans to continue to live on campus next year, although they intend to move into a different on-campus dorm that is cheaper than the one they currently live in. Even with a lower cost, Lucero said the rates are still nerve-racking and they still don’t feel like they are getting what they’re paying for.
“If I'm paying that much. I feel like I should be getting a little bit more. That can kind of go for anything on campus, though, because everything is unreasonably expensive,” Lucero said. “And a lot of students aren't really getting exactly what they pay for.”
Maddie Pukite is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maddogpukite