8 objectives in U of M housing improvement plan

The University of Minnesota has a multi-year, multi-million dollar plan to make on-campus living more attractive for students, but the cost of campus room and board isn't always attractive to students' budgets. It's unclear exactly how much all the improvements will cost, and who is fronting it.

Full report: Twin Cities Housing Improvement Strategy

Ultimately, the Twin Cities Student Housing Improvement Strategy looks to "establish a comprehensive student housing strategy that incorporates both University and non-university managed housing," which includes:

- Renovate or replace Pioneer Hall
- Guarantee campus housing for all first-year students meeting the application deadline
- Modernize "Superblock" dining facilities
- Increase the number of first-year students living in residence halls another year
- Increase demand on St. Paul campus housing (Bailey Hall)
- Ensure transfer students "receive housing support"
- Develop second-year experience programs with non-U of M housing partners
- $3 million in safety, efficiency and comfort improvements for Greek housing

Many students drift into houses and apartments off campus after their first year. A huge factor is the cost, many students said. Currently, the Twin Cities campus offers about 7,000 beds, but a house with a stoop and a crusty outdoor couch or a room in a high rise can trump another year in the dorms.

"Personally, I didn't enjoy the food that much and I think it worked out to be on a 14-meal a week plan for about $8 a meal. Which personally, I could go get Chipotle and that's way better quality in my opinion," student Ted Janka said.

Chip Halbach of the Minnesota Housing Project says something is missing from the 25-page report.

"Cost of housing equals or exceeds the cost of tuition here at the University of Minnesota," Halbach said. "You do have the incomes of students and other lower income people holding pretty flat with the cost of housing increasing."

According to the University of Minnesota, students pay $12,060 for housing per year and room and board is $8,754. The U of M's tuition rate is also the second lowest in the Big Ten.

The U of M Board of Regents will review the report during its May 7 and 8 meetings.