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Off-campus housing prices raise for UT students

by Kaylee Haskell and Cassie Gaudes

While UT students may not realize the cost that comes with living the Tampa lifestyle and benefits it comes with.

“I worked at Tampa’s first and only high-rise at the time–Element,” said Lorelle Leto, Greystar Leasing Manager. “Since 2009, Tampa has numerous high rises and the city has become the fastest growing city in the U.S.”

In early 2018, RENTcafé, a nationwide internet listing service for housing rental units, reported that the national increase in rental cost was 2.7 percent. In Tampa, the increase was 5.2 percent and reported a seven percent increase in rental cost. The most expensive neighborhoods in Tampa are shown to be Downtown, Harbour Island and Uptown Tampa.

UT changed its policy in 2015 to underclassman receiving the first pick of on-campus housing. Now, UT students are complaining about the lack of affordable housing in close proximity to UT.

“I’ve lived in an off-campus apartment for two years now and the costs are astronomically higher than living on campus,” said Natalie Cammalleri, senior communications major, who lives with two roommates. “My rent is around $870, plus the electric bill and cable/internet bill so roughly $950 a month [and] obviously groceries every few weeks probably $80-100 or so. I know for fact it’s cheaper to live on campus.”

As a leasing professional for Greystar Property Management, Mattson Keator works firsthand with apartment hunters in Tampa. Working downtown, Keator said that the average cost of rent within a one-mile radius of UT’s campus is around $1250.

“If you want to live in a nicer property you’re going to have to pay more,” said Keator. “Third-party management companies are less expensive but offer fewer amenities.”

Being a 2018 UT graduate, Keator personally experienced the hardships accompanied by making the transition into off-campus housing. While searching for housing, Keator ran into unexpected costs.

“[My roommates and I] looked for similar prices to living on campus, then we realized leases only go for 12 months, opposed to nine months,” said Keator. “You have to factor in the additional months you wouldn’t be spending on housing if you lived on campus. The cheaper apartments are also farther from campus so you would need to factor in cost for transportation.”

According to AAA, the cost of having a car per month in Florida is $706. Some students cannot afford this and then use Uber to travel, which can also be costly. Keator said during his time at UT, his off-campus roommate had to Uber to school, which cost about $15 per way.

UT advertises for various transportation services such as Uber, Lyft and Zipcar. According to Zipcar’s website, their lowest rates for renting a car is $74 per day. While moving farther from campus may lead to a decrease in rent, students find themselves factoring in unanticipated high budgets for travel.

In addition to high monthly rates and transportation costs, local apartment complexes also require individuals to pay an application fee, have a valid driver’s license or passport, pay a deposit, provide proof of income, undergo a criminal background check and have good credit. Some apartments allow applying students to have a guarantor cosign on their lease, but as complexes begin to fill up, some companies shy away from this.

“If you’re trying to live anywhere close to UT there are hyper-excessive rates compared to farther away. It’s hard because there’s a lot more money that you have to pay upfront and because a lot of places around here don’t let your parents cosign,” said Alec Decato, junior sports management major. “So, you have to show that your income is three times the rent you’ll have to pay. If you work on campus, you get paid maybe $500 for the month, so you can’t show three times the rent.”

Carina De Armas, UT’s off-campus housing coordinator, recommends that students talk to financial aid and the Bursar’s office as well as participate in the continuing student housing selection process.

“Part of my job is coordinating the Off-Campus Housing Fairs and Community Spotlights,” said De Armas. “We talk about budget, what you should look for in your lease, where can you find what you looking for, and ultimately figure out what is really important to the individual when living off-campus and if that is feasible for them.”

While paying for housing is a concern to all students living both on and off-campus, the resources diminish for those that begin to commute. With on-campus housing, there is no proof of income required to pay for student housing. Students also forgo their ability to utilize grants and scholarships for their housing costs when they venture off-campus.

Because UT is a private school, they do not currently offer housing deals with certain apartments the way public universities do. For example, USF provides five affiliated apartment complexes on its website, as well as scholarships and student discounts for rent.

Domestic students have a wider range of places to pick from to find a price they can pay. International students have an even smaller pick of places to choose from and they may not be able to afford where they are able to live.

“It does affect the process because in some buildings it is more expensive to rent if you don’t have a social security card,” said Ana Mejia, senior political science major from Colombia. “Some buildings flat out tell you that they don’t rent to internationals. Bleeker was extremely helpful and understanding, that is why so many international students live in the building.”

Mejia located an apartment complex that works directly with international students, making her transition off-campus easier.

Others were not so lucky. Milimo Hamane, 2018 UT math major, regularly faced adversity moving off-campus as a Zambian international student.

“My dad used to use a wire transfer to send money for rent,” said Hamane. “Sometimes wire transfers take a while and are unpredictable, so even if the money was sent early, I would sometimes receive it a few days late. I was charged $100 for every day the rent was late.”

There will be an off-campus housing fair for students seeking resources in their off-campus housing search from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3 in the Vaughn Lobby.

Kaylee Haskell and Cassie Gaudes can be reached at kaylee.haskell@spartans.ut.edu and cassidy.gaudes@spartans.ut.edu

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