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Students struggle to find housing as Tampa Bay universities see record number of on-campus applications

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Posted at 4:50 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 17:48:53-04

TAMPA, Fla.  — We’re just a few weeks before the start of classes, and some college students are scrambling to find housing.

This comes as Tampa Bay area universities are seeing a record number of students applying to live on campus for a variety of reasons.

“Unfortunately, we are having to turn away students, both returning students as well as new students to our campus,” said Assistant Vice President of Housing and Residential Education, Ana Hernandez.

More than 7,400 students will be living on University of South Florida’s Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses, this upcoming school year. It is the most residential students they have ever had.

“We are seeing incredible demand for on-campus housing. So much so, that we had to close our on-campus housing application in May. The first week in May this year,” Hernandez said. “Last year we also had to close our application, but it wasn’t until July.”

Hernandez said the increased demand stems from students wanting that traditional on-campus college experience that they missed out on during the pandemic. She also attributes it to inflation.

“Increased costs, especially in rent. I think that all comes into play as people are making their housing decisions. In the immediate off-campus market that we’re seeing, there’s been an increase from last year, between 7-20 percent,” she said.

That is an additional $200 to $1,000 a month a student could pay to live off-campus. USF international grad student Ege Uckan, does not know where he is going to live when fall semester begins on August 22.

“I was interested in on-campus of course but by the time I applied it was already full. It was March and they said we’re already at capacity.” I said okay, let me try for off-campus which was full as well, ” Uckan said.

Uckan is located thousands of miles away in Turkey and he’s frantically looking for a room to rent near USF.

“I’m trying to keep my options open, but there are not any options,” he said.

Hernandez said USF is providing students with resources to the local market.

At the University of Tampa, they are also seeing a surge of interest for on-campus housing. The university expects all 4,300 on-campus beds to be full this fall. UT recently announced plans to build a new residence hall that will house more than 600 students, to accommodate future housing demand.

In the meantime, many students like Uckan fear they won't have a place to sleep.

“I think I'm going to stay in a hostel, to see if I'm going to be able to find a place, which seems almost impossible,” Uckan said.