More than 400 more first-year students are moving into Boise State University residence halls and suites this fall than just a year ago. At the same time, sophomores and upper-division students seeking on-campus housing has increased by 17 percent as well.
Boise State expects more than 1,700 first-year students to live on campus this year, with more than 900 sophomores and above living in university owned or leased housing spaces, for a total of around 2,700 students living on campus.
This record number of students — with help from family, friends and excited Boise State staff — will move into their new residences between 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, August 19.
The large increase in students comes after several years of work to expand “Living Learning Communities,” make the on-campus living experience more positive and focused on learning, boost student organizations and Greek life opportunities, and enhance the entire campus experience for all students.
Research on the college experience shows that students who live on campus their freshman year tend to be more actively engaged on campus and in the classroom. Living on campus is known to correlate positively with retention, academic success and even satisfaction, said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeremiah Shinn.
“They perform better, they’re more persistent and they enjoy their experience more,” he said.
Boise State’s ongoing efforts to boost support and resources for on-campus residents resulted in rising average GPAs for on-campus residents over the last two years, said Boise State’s Director of Housing and Residence Life Dean Kennedy.
An example can be seen in the growth of Boise State’s Living Learning Communities, which give students the chance to live and learn with others who share similar academic interests and majors. Most of the Living Learning Communities are facilitated by a faculty member who lives within the residence hall and plans learning and activities that boost the experience for all of the students. These communities, built around every college on campus, increased to 187 beds from 130 last year — and around 480 students applied for these spots.
“Our applications have doubled since last year,” Kennedy said.
All first year students who applied to be in the Living Learning Communities have been offered a spot in one of Boise State’s on-campus residences this year.
Though student body estimates won’t be available until October, Boise State officials expect an increase in first-year students from both Idaho and out-of-state, and for total enrollment to be relatively even with last year’s 22,113. Increases in new students — and steadily increasing first- and second-year retention rates — have been offset to some degree in recent years by increased graduation numbers. Boise State conferred around 4,000 degrees last year, and now awards 46 percent of all bachelor’s degrees conferred by Idaho public universities.
Since Boise State guarantees all first-year students a home on campus if they want one, about 15 students have been placed in temporary overflow rooms — either three students in a two-person room or two in a single room — although housing leaders expect that to be remedied within a few weeks at most. The university last faced extra demand for housing two years ago. At the time, all of the overflow situations were resolved before the 10th day of classes.
The increased demand for on-campus housing also has spurred Boise State to contract with two neighboring private apartment complexes to house about 270 sophomores and upper-division students in the Lusk Neighborhood across Capitol Boulevard from campus. Seven resident assistants and a full-time resident director will oversee the two communities.
“All the agreements with the students remain in place,” Kennedy said. “Boise State policies and procedures apply to those students on those floors, the students still pay housing costs to Boise State, and their financial aid still applies directly to those costs.”
All students at Boise State who need help finding housing or navigating the rental market are always welcome to seek help through the Dean of Students Office.
Boise State is planning ahead to accommodate this continued growth with the new $40 million Honors College and First-Year Residence Hall being built on University Boulevard in a public-private partnership unique to Idaho. Constructed and maintained by a private company, EdR, but staffed by Boise State’s Housing and Residence Life, the facility will boast 650 beds, offices and classrooms for the Honors College and a new student dining facility. The partnership helped Boise State build a high-end facility quickly as demand was growing, while keeping costs down for all students.
The Honors College, meanwhile, is expecting a record number of students again this year — more than 700 in total.
Boise State’s attractiveness to out-of-state students from California, the Seattle area, and elsewhere around the West and beyond has contributed to the demand for on-campus housing, but university officials say this year especially, Idaho and Treasure Valley students are making the decision to live on campus.
Jim Anderson, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services, said a number of recent changes at Boise State and the state of Idaho may be contributing to this change, including an enhanced focus on in-state recruiting; Boise State’s four-year, $8,000 True Blue Scholarship awarded to Idaho high school graduates who show financial need and academic performance; the State Board of Education’s decision to send a letter directly admitting all Idaho students with qualifying grades and test scores to Idaho public colleges and universities; and the state’s recent support of Idaho Application Week, which gets Idaho high school students excited about and support for taking the next step in their education.
“The things we have been putting in place for the past four or five years are now coming to fruition,” Anderson said.