For Jacksonville State University students, the decision on where to live while completing collegiate studies often comes down to the question of whether to live on-campus or off.
Each option has its pros, but both currently share a common con: high demand.
At a meeting of JSU’s board of trustees in June, Timothy King, JSU’s vice president of student affairs, made trustees aware of a potential scarcity of on-campus housing at JSU. According to King, this will mostly affect incoming freshmen, who are required to live in a limited number of on-campus options if they are not residing in Calhoun or surrounding counties.
“We are pretty much full for students,” King told trustees. “There is a waiting list for female freshmen.”
According to Bryan Taylor, owner of Taylor Real Estate Solutions, which manages several rental properties around Jacksonville, the off-campus rental business in a college town obviously sees high interest from students.
“A large portion of our business is with JSU students,” Taylor said. “That’s the nature of Jacksonville. Unless you ignore it, a lot of demand is going to come from JSU students.”
“I don’t know that I’d exactly call it a shortage,” Brooke Lyon, JSU’s director of housing operations, said of the waiting list. “We’re always reevaluating our inventory, it’s a revolving process of making assignments and confirming students.”
Lyon said the number of students on the waiting list is an ever-changing figure, and the university often sees the same process play out.
“It’s not unusual for this to happen in the summer,” Lyon said. “It’s not a large number. We believe it’s manageable.”
This tightness in housing comes even after JSU’s campus-owned housing added the Pointe at JSU, formerly known as the Reserve, into its list of choices for student housing.
In the fall semester of 2018, 88 percent of JSU’s 2,054 available beds in campus-owned housing were occupied at the time, according to the university’s 2018 Fact Book.
While the Pointe, which adds about 500 available beds, is only available for upperclassmen, Lyon said demand for housing was not limited to incoming freshmen.
“We have an increased demand across the board for on-campus housing in both new incoming students and returning students,” Lyon said.
According to Taylor, high demand is felt not just on the on-campus level.
“When we post a vacancy, a lot of times it is filled that day, even if it’s from a few months out,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the university’s management of the Pointe has likely caused demand for rentals to grow even more.
“That took 500 beds off the market and increased demand,” Taylor said. “There are some students that just want to live off campus.”
Taylor-managed properties have requirements for potential tenants, such as rental history and a minimum age of 21, but Taylor said most students who are interested in rental properties just need an older cosigner to help secure housing.
Lyon said running a smooth housing operation with access for all students who wish to live on campus is key to maintaining trust between the university and its population.
“We always want to make sure that our students want to come to JSU,” Lyon said. “We don’t want to lose any students. We always appreciate our students keeping faith in us.”
At the meeting in June, King assured trustees that students placed on the waiting list would be housed by the fall semester’s August start.
“They will have something,” King said.