Student housing applicants express uncertainty for lengthy wait
Leslie Alvarado has been waitlisted since early May 2012. She is one of approximately 3,000 students who sign up for on-campus housing every year, and currently is number 15 on a waitlist of 50 for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters.
“I really wanted to live on campus in order to feel more connected and get the college experience,” said Alvarado, 18, who lives near Lake Merced. “Most likely, I won’t even get it anymore, which makes me sad. I’ve been waiting patiently and have gone through a lot in order to wait for a dorm.”
About 500 students usually end up on the SF State housing waitlist at the start of the summer. Philippe Cumia, associate director of the residential administrative services, said the chance of waitlisted students getting into the dorms is high.
“We estimate the waiting list will be exhausted by the end of the month,” Cumia said.
Cumia said the best time for students to sign up for housing is from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31 for the following academic year. The housing department has been trying to add more student housing with University Park North and South, she said.
Students have six options when it comes down to University housing, both off and on campus: residence halls Mary Ward and Mary Park, the Science and Technology Theme Community, The Towers at Centennial Square, The Village at Centennial Square and University Park North and South apartments.
Eric Gonzalez, a computer engineering major, signed up for housing three months before classes started.
“I had to pay a ($55) application fee and a $1,400 installment payment. SF State did tell me I was on the waitlist once my application was processed. At first I was number 302,” Gonzalez, 17, said. “One week before classes started I was number 72.”
He decided that he could not wait so he looked off campus.
“Coming from Los Angeles, I needed a place to stay badly. I went on a roommate finder website to find a place and I found students that were living in University Park North. I decided to go and live with them. I got my $1,400 initial payment back, but I did not get a refund for the ($55) application fee,” he said.
Students must pay an initial $1,400 for housing, which covers the Aug. 23 move-in day until Sept. 1. There is a supplemental fee of roughly $200, depending on the dorm, for those who move in early.
The amount that students pay after the first month depends on dorm and meal plan selection, which is required for most residents.
Before even getting housing, students must pay a nonrefundable $55 application fee. Mazin Mahgoub, who was also waitlisted, signed up for housing late.
“I had no idea of the housing situation at SF State and there was no warning that there was going to be such a drastic shortage and how crucial it was to sign up early — before you even knew what school you were going to,” the 18-year-old political science major said. “You have to pay the first month’s rent before and that goes to tuition if you don’t get it, $1,400. I wonder what low-income families would do in a situation so long before the disbursement of financial aid.”
Mahgoub gave up on campus housing and now lives in Parkmerced. But not all housing stories end in sacrifice.
Melissa Covert was on the waitlist for Mary Park Hall from the beginning of June until the middle of July. She said the convenience is the best part of living on campus.
“I’d say it was worth it because I finally did get housing,” Covert, 18, said. “It was a bit stressful because I was trying to look into apartments as a back up, but I’m glad I finally got into campus.”
According to SF State, living with parents will cost a student about $4,400 for the academic year, which does not include books, transportation and personal expenses. Campus housing will cost the student $12,414, according to the SF State Housing Department.
Jeremy Hawkins, 21, was living in Mary Park Hall two years ago and now lives in the Sunset District. He describes living on campus as one of the better choices he made at SF State.
“I met friends within hours of moving in that I still talk to today,” the hospitality and tourism management major said. “It also had its cons … but overall it was an amazing experience, which I’ll cherish forever.”