Purdue turns to private apartments to house surplus of students

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Purdue University officials are working with private apartment complexes to find enough space for students as campus housing fills up.

The university enrolled about 7,600 freshmen this fall, its largest first-year class in more than a decade. Almost 95 percent of them decided to live on campus, the Journal and Courier of Lafayette reported. Meanwhile, almost half of all students who lived on campus last year chose to return to university housing.

The university has leased more than 90 beds from The Cottages on Lindberg and 240 beds from Blackbird Farms apartments to house the students.

The apartment complexes are about two miles from campus and more expensive than on-campus dorms. The university is subsidizing students placed in the complexes at about $1,000 per semester.

Students living in the off-campus complexes still have a resident assistant, a residence education coordinator, academic programming and social activities, said Mike Shettle, the administration director for Purdue University Residences.

About 160 students were in temporary housing this past week in makeshift dorm rooms created in lounges inside residence halls as they wait for space to free up elsewhere, Shettle said.

"The reality is the numbers are growing faster than the buildings are able to be built," he said.

The university is working on creating a master plan for long-term housing needs, said Beth McCuskey, vice provost for student life.

"We know that we need additional space, but the specifics of 'where' and 'how much' are still being evaluated," she said in an email.

The university will determine if it needs to continue leasing space in private apartments after enrollment and occupancy data are finalized in the fall, McCuskey said.

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