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Trustees propose room rate increases

The board will vote on the committees’ recommendations next week.

With a predicted increased demand for housing on Main Campus this fall and a blend of additional expenses and maintenance of aging residence halls, school officials are considering whether to raise the cost of living for students in order to achieve budget.

In its first meeting of the year, the Student Affairs Committee and Campus Life and Diversity Committee of the Board of Trustees recommended an average price increase of 3.12 percent in all university student housing for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The proposal comes as University Housing and Residential Life expects its operating expenses to increase by more than $16 million in fiscal year 2014 with the opening of Morgan Hall. The $216 million, 27-story hall will open this fall.

“We have expenses that are variable by year, mostly due to inflation,” Michael Scales, associate vice president for Student Affairs, said. “Our increases really reflect increasings in our operating budget that we have to respond to.”

The proposed increase varied from no increase for standard rooms – Johnson, Hardwick and Peabody halls – to 6 percent increases for single spaces. The committees also recommended increasing graduate housing by 3 percent.

Scales said that room rates for traditional residence halls would not increase since their operational expenses are the lowest in the housing system.

“I think this would especially affect upperclassmen, who would choose to live off-campus instead of residence halls given the increased cost,” Alexis Wright-Whitey, secretary of Temple’s Residence Hall Association, said. “I don’t think incoming freshmen have any other option.”

The student organization was not informed of the proposal prior to the committees’ meeting, she said.

In the last eight years, Temple’s room rate history denotes a steady increase from 3.7 percent in 2005-06 to 4.5 percent in 2012-13.

University Housing requested the committee’s approval to utilize more than $2 million of carryover funds to offset planned operational shortfalls.

“The carryover fund was established to assist us in making budget in year where we might run in deficit while minimizing the overall increases on students,” Scales said.

University Housing and Residential Life also expects meal plan rates charged to students to increase by 2.6 percent as it negotiates with Sodexo Corporation, Temple’s food service provider.

Sodexo’s proposal will be based upon the Philadelphia Region Consumer Price Index-Urban for November 2012, a measure that examines expenditures by urban residents, and a forecasted increase in food prices in 2013.

The Board of Trustees will vote on the committees’ proposal on March 5.

“In my seven years in Temple, I’ve never seen the Board of Trustees go against our recommendation,” Scales said.

Laura Ordonez can be reached at laura.ordonez@temple.edu.

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