Housing rates at Florida A&M University and Florida State University have steadily risen in the last two years. Students are required to pay a fee each semester for on campus housing but are not told what the fees pay for or why the increase is necessary.
Mattie Trawick, the Associate Director of FAMU University Housing, said the increase is in relation to ongoing renovations.
"Initial rates are developed in conjunction with construction and or renovation cost of the facility," Trawick said.
Between the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters, FAMU's University Housing collected $11,182,555 in housing fees from the 4,246 students living on campus. The year before, FAMU housing took in $11,169,684 from the 4,562 students who lived on-campus.
This means FAMU took in $12,871 more in 2013- 2014 than in 2012-2013 although on campus living decreased by 316 students. Trawick said rent increases are due to "increases in the inflation rate for operating expenses of facilities.”
"A rental rate committee reviews the rates annually and recommends either an increase or no increase based on projected projects," Trawick said.
FSU's University Housing saw a decrease in overall housing fees. Between Fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters, FSU collected $45,119,443 in housing fees plus an additional $590,842 in laundry fees, investments and other fees. The fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters FSU earned $43,600,769 in housing fees and an additional $534,628 from laundry fees, investments and other fees.
FSU earned $1,574,888 less in 2013-2014 than in 2012-2013. Dave Sagaser, FSU associate director of university housing facility management, said the difference could be due to the number of student residents or the types of dorms they stayed in.
"The rate changes I've seen represent differences in community style and suite style," Sagaser said.
It is unclear how many students lived on-campus during those two years or the number of students living in each building. In response to an open record request asking for that information, FSU replied the following.
"FSU does not maintain a document with all of the information you have requested. You may visit [FSU’s website] for information on the number of students in residence halls."
Both universities offer community style, suite style and apartment style dorms. FAMU and FSU list the prices and styles of each building online. Although the size of the buildings, and occupancy gender may be different the prices are similar. Furnishings are also similar, although FSU provides all dorm rooms with a small refrigerator.
For the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters, Diviney Hall costs $2550, Truth hall costs $2,530 and Sampson Hall costs $3,149. The price variations may be due to location. Chandra Myrick, FSU associate director for residence life, said on campus housing provides students with more options.
"[Students have close] proximity to extracurricular activities during the day and evening hours," Myrick said. "One would argue [they are] in the center of campus where perhaps students wouldn't have the same opportunities."
The fees collected from the students of both universities go into an auxiliary fund, which is money set aside that does not come from the state government. The funds are then spent on housing necessities that include cable, internet, maintenance, staff, management, and utilities.
This includes stipends provided to resident assistants, resident directors, and residence coordinators, which are the resident directors of FSU's dorms. FAMU RAs received $1,000 per semester in 2012-2013 and $1,250 per semester in 2013-2014. They also receive free housing for each semester served.
In contrast, FSU RAs are paid on an hourly basis at almost $8 an hour and 20 hours per week. However, they also have to pay half of their total housing fee per semester. FSU residence coordinators are paid an annual salary of $30,900. FAMU did not disclose the amount of money paid to its RDs.
It may be difficult to accurately compare housing fee increases between the two universities; FSU is much larger than FAMU, earns more money and has a higher number of students. However, both universities are trying to accommodate more and more students.
Trawick, Sagaser and Myrick would not allow any pictures or recordings of their interviews. However, they all said housing fees come from on campus students and, eventually, benefit on-campus students.