ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - For the third year, Albany State University (ASU) is seeing a high demand for housing, causing some students to stay in hotels temporarily.
ASU leaders said there’s more students than rooms or living space.
Staff said they’re constantly working to avoid this issue and continue to thrive.
The first week of classes and all halls were packed with students.
“Everybody wants to be at an HBCU because that’s a good thing. We’re a growing HBCU at that,” said Dominique, an ASU student.
That growth is causing students like Dominique to be without campus housing.
“Here we go about the housing. I’m actually still on the waiting list,” said Dominique.
A waiting list that previously had hundreds people on it going into the school year.
“In February, March of 2019, we had approximately 600 students that express the need for housing above and beyond the room spaces we had available,” Jonathan Lucia, ASU executive director of housing and residence, said.
Lucia said since then, the numbers are going down as they help students find places to stay.
As of Tuesday, only 15 students have said they need help finding housing. Lucia said more students could come forward.
Officials said as student’s cancel their housing or enrollment, more spots will become available.
But as of now, all 11 residence halls are completely full.
“Currently, we have less than 50 students residing in temporary off-campus housing, which is two hotels,” said Lucia.
Students are paying double occupancy rates to stay at the hotels, while the school pays $100 a night for each room.
They're using university auxiliary funds to do it.
“The investment that ASU makes to provide the hotel accommodations far exceeds what students pay to stay in those accommodations,” said Lucia.
But some people in Albany aren't happy at all.
“It’s been a concern of mine because this problem didn’t just happen. This been an ongoing thing we’ve heard for years,” Edward Ford-Ball, Albany resident, said.
Forcing students like Dominique to find housing on his own.
“I had to get an apartment off campus. But I understand the reason for all the housing problems,” said Dominique.
But others hope the school will come up with better plans.
“I believe if they built into the city like Columbus State or Savannah State and other places like that, the housing problem wouldn’t be a problem,” said Ford-Ball.
School leaders said they are working to get every student permanent housing.
They are also working to partner with people in the community to provide permanent housing throughout the city to combat the issue.
ASU leaders said they have seen an increase in their summer enrollment compared to last year.
Leaders said ASU now has the second highest summer enrollment growth among the University System of Georgia comprehensive universities.
They believe this is good news, since numbers were lower from 2017 to 2018.
Summer enrollment numbers grew by 4.6 percent with enrollment increasing to 2,590 students.
This means 115 more students enrolled this summer at ASU.
Leaders believe a contributing factor is their year-round summer Pell grant awards, which allow students to have funding for classes all year.
This allows students to progress more quickly to get their degrees.
Enrollment staff said they offered 60 degree programs this summer and stack credentials, to help students get multiple degrees.
Leaders said they also used a unique recruitment strategy to get students to stay for the fall semester.
“We had a presidential bus tour where we actually went to local schools here in Albany, Georgia and surrounding areas. And during those programs, we actually recruited students and did onsite acceptances for students who brought their high school transcripts and their test scores with them,” Kenyatta Johnson, ASU vice president for enrollment management, said.
Johnson adds they also offered the ASU Foundation local Scholars Grant to students as an incentive to start and stay at ASU.
Dominque said he’s grateful he took summer classes this year, as it will help him get his criminal justice degree more easily.
“It’s actually a good thing because that means not only you can graduate on time, but you can, in some instances graduate early. So I really feel like that’s a good thing,” said Dominique.
The University System of Georgia website shows from 2017 to 2018, ASU dropped in summer enrollment by 13 percent.
Compared to other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), it was the biggest decrease, largely because the other HBCUs had fewer students than ASU.