Ayoung JoMercury Staff
Starting next semester, residential students living in all university housing facilities will be required to pay their housing expenses by semester instead of monthly.
With the on-campus housing renewal and sign-up process for next semester beginning on Jan. 23, students can expect a change if they choose to live on campus. Instead of bringing a check to the leasing office or paying online through the American Campus Communities website every month, they will need to pay their on-campus housing expenses through the Bursar’s Office as a part of their overall university bill.
The change is the result of a shift in University Housing management. On Nov. 1, UTD’s current contract with American Campus Communities, a private management company, will expire, and the school will take on the management of all operations such as maintenance, daily operations and staffing.
“We’ve had the American Campus Communities in place because we were a young university that was smaller and needed a housing program, but not set up with the staff to support it,” said Ryan White, assistant vice president of Residential Life.
With the on-campus housing program that has grown from 2,500 residential students in 2006 to over 5,500 in 2017, UTD’s change is similar with other large colleges across the nation.
“As we’ve grown as a university, we added more residential buildings and more staff to support that,” White said. “So it’s a natural transition that we would operate our own housing system.”
This new housing payment plan will not affect Canyon Creek Heights residents, as these new buildings are already operated and managed by UTD, and the residents have been paying their housing expenses at the start of the semester through the Bursar’s Office.
Because the lump-sum payment process is new, there will be a population of students who will be more affected than others, White said. In the email about the payment change, University Housing included information about an installment plan option the Bursar’s office provides.
“It will be a shift for students who are used to paying monthly to look at the semesterly cost of housing,” White said. “But I do know that the Bursar’s Office and the financial aid are really good at working with students to help meet their financial needs.”
Because the information regarding the payment change was sent out via email, students might have a hard time catching up, said Alexander Holcomb, vice president of Student Government.
“If they didn’t catch these emails sent out by the ResLife, I can imagine where the confusion may start, but all in all, I think this is going to be a better system,” Holcomb said. “I’m definitely eager to (see) if the change goes through as smoothly as we expect that it will.”
Ultimately, paying the Bursar’s office using the EZPay system is going to make things easier for students, White said. Students will be able to pay for their housing fee at the same time they pay for their classes, which is when their financial aid will be available.
“This is an exciting time for the university,” White said. “I know it’s definitely a shift in culture, it’s one that’s done to serve the students.”