Students raise concerns about the cost of living off campus amid Yale College’s housing shortage

Even with a new streamlined placement policy taking effect this spring, students remain concerned about being forced off campus and the associated costs, prompting a Yale College Council senator to propose a policy that would would give priority to FGLI students in accommodation.

Sarah Cook 12:37 am Feb 10, 2023

staff reporter

Robbie Short, Lead Photographer

As the housing shortage at Yale College continues, students are concerned about not being able to stay on campus, especially as rents in New Haven soar.

Fueled by student concerns, Ben Crnovrsanin ’25, a first-generation low-income student and Yale College Council Senator, authored a proposed policy to give FGLI students priority in deciding whether students receive on-campus housing. The proposal raises concerns about the potential costs associated with off-campus living and the timing of when students learn of housing decisions.

These concerns come at a time when the housing process — long a source of dissatisfaction for students — is undergoing a streamlining process, moving away from housing colleges and falling under the authority of a central housing office that will handle the entire process online. The current schedule, recently emailed to students, marks the process of forming “rooming groups” over the period March 8th – March 28th for sophomores and seniors and March 8th – April 13th for juniors and post-seniors.

“The past year has been unique in that the entire housing system has changed, but the situation sheds light on a larger problem: the recurring sense of insecurity students feel about one of the most fundamental aspects of their Yale experience,” said Crnovrsanin the news.

Crnovrsanin wrote that his main concern is the uncertainty of being able to secure housing for juniors or seniors – who are not guaranteed housing on campus. In addition, he noted that it is unclear whether students who do not secure on-campus housing will be assigned to other locations on campus or will be expected to find their own off-campus housing.

He added that there will be more housing shortages this year given the unusually large size of the Class of 2025, which caused housing shortages for the Class of 2024 this year.

“There needs to be more transparency and accountability in general,” Crnovrsanin wrote to the News. “Today’s problem itself isn’t new — it’s part of a recurring problem, its consequences that administrators knew would be exacerbated by 2025’s large class size.”

However, Pericles Lewis, Dean of Yale College, stated that to date, no student has been fully expelled from campus. Instead, they are threatened with incorporation into other campus locations. However, Lewis noted that annex building availability is dependent on a certain percentage of students leaving campus — a percentage he acknowledged is difficult to predict from year to year, especially given the unusually large class size of aspiring juniors.

Housing costs in New Haven

While the cost of off-campus housing can vary, Crnovrsanin explained that if FGLI students are kicked off campus, they may have to compromise certain aspects of housing, such as size and proximity to campus, to afford New Haven’s rising rental costs can.

That uncertainty, he explained, is only compounded by how late the schedule is, making off-campus accommodation increasingly difficult to find.

Neil Currie, head of leasing at the Chelsea Company, told the news that despite rising rents citywide and a 1.4 percent vacancy rate in New Haven, there is no shortage of affordable housing, explaining instead that competition between Yale increasing numbers of students looking for housing close to campus.

“I don’t think students who wait later will be forced to spend more,” Currie said. “The reality is that students who wait later just have to keep walking. You’ll still find affordable options, just not as close.”

Social and financial costs of off-campus living

Yale’s grant policy calculates the estimated attendance cost for students living on or off campus as equal, which is $19,180 for room and board in the 2023-2024 school year. If a financial aid student receives scholarship assistance greater than $65,151, they may claim any expenses greater than $65,151 as reimbursement for off-campus expenses.

Matthew Park ’24 entered the drawing for this school year’s home last spring. He lost the lottery and was given an option to be placed in a group of people in the class of 2025 where he would live in a double room with a stranger.

Given these circumstances, Park decided to leave campus, but he said the cost of living off campus was significantly greater than living on campus. Additionally, he wrote that navigating housing options was often difficult, especially since he had never rented before and was not from a neighborhood similar to New Haven.

Park explained that while FGLI students who receive full reimbursements for off-campus housing provide “limited assistance,” students like him who do not receive the reimbursement face significant financial constraints if they are to pay for the costs of off-campus life -front.

“I think some sort of income-based housing guarantee proposal is a thought in the right direction, but the technicalities are so complicated that a simplified prioritization of those who fall under the ‘FGLI’ housing bucket may not capture the full Scope covers situation,” Park told the News.

Joanna Ruiz ’25, an FGLI student, told the News that whether or not off-campus housing costs are increasing, off-campus living comes with additional costs for FGLI students, as they are used by many Mentoring resources are separate from the FGLI, particularly when forced to live further from campus.

“Building a community and being close to other FGLI students is very important to me because I feel it is necessary for me and my wellbeing at this school,” Ruiz told the News.

Ruiz also said that off-campus housing comes with a variety of expenses that FGLI students find difficult to afford even if they receive full reimbursement for off-campus expenses, such as:

Crnovrsanin has since reviewed the proposal with Lewis and said Lewis is open to a security measure should demand for on-campus housing exceed supply.

Lewis told the News that FGLI students’ concerns would be addressed if demand for on-campus housing exceeds supply, but he doesn’t expect the students to be kicked off campus at all.

“If there was an emergency situation at the end, we would definitely look after an FGLI student,” Lewis told the News. “I would encourage students to just register [for on-campus housing] if they really want to live on campus, but we will do our best to make sure everyone who signs up gets housing.”

Lewis added that the new streamlined housing system will provide information on where there are open spaces for students to be annexed, which will help students understand their options sooner.

Students must declare their intention to live on or off campus for the 2023-2024 school year by February 27.

Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook reports on student politics and affairs, and she previously reported on President Salovey’s cabinet. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is a graduate student at Grace Hopper University majoring in Neuroscience.