Housing affected by enrollment

By Brian Slupski

NIU could feel a financial strain if applications for fall 1993 housing and undergraduate enrollment do not increase.

Applications for enrollment are down by 1,289 applicants, which apparently is affecting the number of students applying to live in the residence halls.

Housing Director Carl Jardine said applications are down by 680 applicants compared to last year.

If this occurs, housing would deal with the loss of revenue by putting off capital improvement construction projects in the residence halls, he said.

Jardine said he anticipates a room rate increase to be proposed at next week’s Board of Regents meeting, but added the proposed increase was not the result of the possible shortfall.

“The increase being proposed is not being driven by the shortfall in occupants,” Jardine said.

However, Jardine said not all of the shortfall could be made up by putting off capital improvements. Some of it would have to be made up from revenue generated by the rate increase, he said.

He said he couldn’t be specific about the proposed room rate increase because it has not been finalized.

If applications do not improve, several options will have to be considered to deal with the reduction in occupants.

“Closing a residence hall would be an option which could be considered, but I wouldn’t recommend it at this point,” Jardine said.

Housing services is much more likely to deal with the problem by offering more single rooms and lowering the density of students in the towers. Even though there might be more single rooms available, Jardine said the rates of the rooms will not be reduced.

He said NIU has been restricting enrollment for several years and the reductions in enrollment have impacted housing.

Admissions Director Daniel O’Born said NIU had been trying to reduce enrollment. He said, however, NIU wanted enrollment to stabilize at last year’s figure.

O’Born said the previous restrictions in enrollment could be impacting NIU’s enrollment shortfall because prospective students might have been discouraged from applying during the period of restriction.

He said one problem NIU and other state schools are facing is a decline in the number of students graduating from high school. When NIU was restricting enrollment, the number of high school graduates was on the rise.

Rich Lazarski, associate director of Budget and Planning, said if applications for enrollment stay at the present level, NIU could be out more than $1 million in tuition money.

If the number of applicants remains as low as it is, the university will have to restrict spending “across-the-board” to make up the shortfall, he said.

However, Lazarski said it was too early to be specific about what kind of action the university might take because applications still could increase a great deal. Lazarski did say the problem “would be manageable” if the numbers don’t improve.