Current and Affordable Campus Housing Through Public-Private Partnerships
What is Corvias Campus Living doing in its public-private partnership with the University System of Georgia to update campus housing and keep it affordable?
After two decades of steadily increasing higher education costs, many higher education institutions are now freezing tuition and campus housing costs, or at least limiting increases. As a result, these colleges and universities now have to address ongoing — and in some cases increasing — housing needs with less funding.
One way to deal with this conundrum is through a public-private partnership.
The University System of Georgia (USG) entered into just such a partnership last November when the Board of Regents selected Corvias Campus Living to develop, construct, manage and maintain student housing at nine of the system’s campuses. The first phase of construction is scheduled to begin in May, with new housing opening in fall 2016.
“The quality of the existing housing on campus has decreased because of deferred maintenance and a lack of funds available to schools,” says Ron LaPorte, vice president for Corvias Campus Living. Therefore, given the price of on-campus housing versus its quality, students who might have preferred to stay on campus have been moving to off-campus housing, which means lost revenue for institutions, he says.
Through its partnership with USG, Corvias is developing and renovating campus housing so that it appeals to students, is affordable and helps further the institutions’ missions to graduate students that become contributors to society.
Renovations as an affordable option
At the USG campuses, Corvias is taking a holistic approach to housing. “Through a capital raise, [campuses] have the option and means to build new housing if they want to increase enrollment, but they also can use that capital to invest in their existing facilities,” LaPorte says. “We’re rising all the boats with the tide.”
Many of the existing facilities were built in the 1960s and 1970s, which means doubles off both sides of a corridor and a common bathroom. Corvias will renovate that layout to create housing that offers what students want today (more privacy) but that also helps the institution achieve what it wants (building community).
It’s a balance, LaPorte says. “Consistent with the goals of the campus, we go in and make it a more communal than what students are used to growing up in a single bedroom. But with increased privacy, not like it is was with a double-loaded corridor, where they are all sharing a shower.”
Over the 65-year partnership with USG, a reserve account builds from student housing payments that will allow for future campus housing updates. “What students are going to want in 10 to 15 years is going to be different than what they want today,” LaPorte says. “Having that reserve, we can again renovate it at the school’s request because the capital is there. This makes the program sustainable and the institution doesn’t have to wonder, ‘Where we are going to get the money?’”