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New UNLV Scholarship Fails to Attract Many Dorm Residents

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Despite offering a $2,000 scholarship, the Housing Department at UNLV was only able to attract a total of 105 new residents this year.

“This is a good number compared to recent years,” says Jennifer Gray, assistant director of Housing Administration.  “We have known for four years that our housing rates are not competitive but we were finally approved (to fund a new scholarship and start a marketing campaign),” says Gray.

The dorm room officials have been trying, for years, to promote more students to live on campus but not much has changed.

UNLV’s Institutional Analysis and Planning statistics report that there are approximately 15,300 undergraduate students. Of those, 1,111 students live in the dorm rooms, so that is only around 7 percent.

“UNLV’s identity plays a big factor in this because people believe this university to be a commuter campus,” says Gray.

The new students that moved in were able to occupy most of the dorm rooms but there is still one building completely empty, Williams Hall in the South Hall Complex.

To increase the percentage of students that live on campus, Housing and Residential Life released a campaign this school year that Gray calls the “smart-move campaign.”

The heart of this campaign is a new scholarship that started fall 2012 that is dedicated to the costs of staying on campus.

The Clark County Scholarship gives the opportunity for local high school graduates, with a 3.5 or higher weighted grade point average, to receive $1,000 per semester. They must commit to living on campus for a year.

Gray says they started out with 300 scholarships in the amount of $2,000 per year. Only 84 students applied and were granted the scholarship. The rest of the money stays in a university account waiting for next semester and the next year’s incoming Clark County graduates.

Frank Bruni is a good example of the student this marketing campaign is trying to attract, but he chose not to live on campus, “It has crossed my mind but it’s just way, way cheaper to live at home.” Bruni is a freshman that has lived in Las Vegas all of his life.

Bruni said he had never heard of the scholarship but said it still would not be enough money.  “The only way I’d move to campus is if I became an R.A. (resident assistant) because then, I could afford it,” says Bruni.

In addition to the scholarship, the housing website also indicates they have dropped their rate by an average of $475 a semester for a double room.

Taking the price decrease into account, the cheapest room with the cheapest required meal plan would be $4,540 for four months, lists the housing website.

Gray confirmed that the scholarship would only cover about a month’s worth of expenses, “But it’s worth the money compared to living at an apartment.”

The housing department’s “smart-move campaign” also worked with two existing scholarships with the stipulation that the student must commit to living on campus for two years. These scholarships are the Western Undergraduate Exchange scholarship (WUE), and the Rebel Challenge Scholarship.

Francis McCaslin is a recipient of the WUE scholarship, “I will be living on campus for another couple years but I enjoy it.” McCaslin said she enjoys living on campus and doesn’t understand why more people do not do it.

The housing department hopes that more students see McCaslin’s point of view. Gray said that once students make the jump, most love living on campus because of the atmosphere and the benefits it offers such as no need to buy parking passes or commute.

“In order to grow exponentially we need exposure.  To get this we needed support from other programs to put our name out there and we have finally gotten it.  Now we are hoping for retention (of the current occupants.)


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