University of Connecticut Residential Life spent a vast majority of its $72 million budget on personal services and capital projects in Fiscal Year 2017. The amount spent on professional personal services is nearly double that spent on student personal services: $4,701,982 versus $2,412,109.
The university is currently working on numerous construction projects around campus such as ongoing construction on the new student recreation center and the opening of the Hartford campus earlier this year. ResLife paid $8 million toward debt on these projects in FY 2017.
The construction of these projects does not affect the housing budget because they have already been paid for with bond money as a part of the Next Generation Connecticut project.
In addition to these larger projects, residential life has been working on numerous smaller projects in individual residences, ResLife said.
“The university has increased resources over the past three years to address capital projects and maintenance in the facilities, which range from routine carpet replacement to overhauling complete shower areas,” ResLife said.
Some of these projects include replacing the roofs at Northwood and Hilltop Apartments, shower renovations in Brock, Eddy and Northwood, asbestos abatement reflooring in Belden Hall and replacing boilers in Northwood apartments.
ResLife also undertook routine projects such as replacing carpets and repainting in FY17.
Last year, the board of trustees approved an average 3 percent increase to housing fees for students through FY 2019. ResLife said these increases are driven by average expense costs for materials, supplies and personnel.
“UConn isn’t unique in this regard, and although the costs are unavoidably passed along as part of the room and board rate, the department works very diligently to keep costs in check and scrutinizes each expense carefully,” ResLife said.
Since the late 1990s, the number of students living on campus has increased steadily.
Over the past several years, between 67 and 72 percent of students have lived on campus each year, UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said. 67 percent of students live on campus this year according to the UConn 2017 fact sheet.
Reitz said there are typically 500 more vacant beds in the spring semester due to early graduation, study abroad and student transfers.
There are approximately 300 fewer students living on campus this semester compared to Fall 2016. The smaller class size enrolled at UConn this year as a result of state budget cuts has also impacted ResLife as they must compensate for a decrease in revenue by increasing fees for all students.
“While that adds challenges to our work, it doesn’t diminish our commitment to being cautious with the budget, nor does it mean we’re willing to leave critical maintenance needs unaddressed,” ResLife said.