California state universities add dorm rooms as strategy to raise graduation rates, provide affordable housing – California News

California state universities add dorm rooms as strategy to raise graduation rates, provide affordable housing – California News


Finishing touches were still being put to Cal State Channel Island’s new 600-bed dormitory named Santa Rosa Village when Jazzminn Morecraft moved in last fall. Early morning construction noise was worth enduring, she said, because of the social and academic benefits of living on the Ventura County campus, situated in a former state mental hospital surrounded by farmland and hillsides.

Whether joining a study group in her dorm, taking a quick walk to the library, attending a concert, “all the opportunities are here, the events are here. It’s a great experience,” said the English major who graduated from a high school in the San Ramon area east of San Francisco.

New construction in the CSU system is adding beds so more students can live on campus. Experts say this could improve their chances of finishing college in four years, along with less costly academic steps such as improved advising and providing more classes. And by offering an alternative to rapidly rising off-campus rents in some parts of the state, the new dorms are expected to enhance a residential flavor at campuses traditionally dominated by commuters.

The Great Recession had stalled many previous CSU plans but, with economic recovery, about 1,000 beds were recently added and dorms with an additional 5,000 beds are approved to be built over the next four years. That work will be at seven campuses, with expansion being considered in the future at those and others.

The CSU system now has on-campus room for only about 11 percent of its 400,000 students. The projects already in the pipeline would increase that to about 15 percent, still a modest amount…

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