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Viewpoint: Housing options must be non-traditional student friendly
September 19, 2013

Viewpoint: Housing options must be non-traditional student friendly

Tobin Lofts, located in the Tobin Hill area near San Antonio College, opened Aug. 23. The fully furnished apartments are available to any higher education student. The project is a public-private partnership between SAC, the NRP group who built the facility, and Campus Advantage which overseas management. Photo by Ashleigh Gow

By Alma Linda Manzanares

It’s no surprise that with increased enrollment, Texas A&M-San Antonio’s plans for future growth and development include residential housing options for students.

On Oct. 25, 2012, The Mesquite reported that NRP Group LLC was in the planning stages of A&M-San Antonio’s first university housing option located at University Way. The 236-unit project is intended to offer students and employees four floor plan options with costs ranging from $625 for a one-bedroom to $1,527 for a three-bedroom unit. The complex is expected to open summer 2014.

With most of the student population considered non-traditional, it’s important future plans accommodate the majority.

According to the A&M-San Antonio fact book for fall 2012, the university has more part-time students than full-time students since fall 2009 and the average age of students is 32.

Plus, some of these students have children to juggle on top of working, paying for school and completing course work.

Until A&M-San Antonio develops housing options, students at this university were encouraged to take advantage of another NRP Group housing option, the Tobin Lofts located at San Antonio College, by Bruce Leslie, chancellor of Alamo Colleges, at the university’s faculty and staff convocation Aug. 22 at Palo Alto College.

The fully-furnished apartments, which include Wi-Fi, cable TV and all bills paid, are available for any higher education students in the city. Floor plans include one-bedroom, one-bathroom for $975; $675-$725 per person for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom; $575 per person for a four-bedroom, four-bathroom; and $525 per person for a four-bedrooms, two-bathroom.

Although students with children can rent apartments, those students will probably have to look elsewhere. Alicia Cassidy, Tobin Lofts property manager, said each child over the age of one must have their own room.

As a single mother with a 3-year-old daughter, the news was shocking. If I wanted to rent with Tobin Lofts, I would have to rent the two-bedroom, two-bathroom floor plan and pay $1,350-$1,450 a month.

That’s about twice as much as I’m currently paying for my cozy one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, plus utilities and Internet, that is located no more than a block from the Tobin Lofts.

Getting my 3-year-old to sleep in her own bedroom would be quite a challenge when she believes the boogeyman comes out at night from under her bed. And, that second bathroom that I’d be paying for would never be used.

Plus, as a non-traditional student who has been living on her own for years, I already have furniture and belongings that I want to use. Will the developer provide unfurnished apartments? My belongings wouldn’t fit in an already furnished apartment.

These are important factors to note when the NRP Group is developing housing options for A&M-San Antonio. Students and administrators should be wary of developers who do not provide family-friendly environments.

Non-traditional students make up most of A&M-San Antonio’s student population, so while luxury amenities such as tanning salons, resort pools and saunas cater to the interests of younger students, non-traditional students have learned to make sacrifices and are less likely to be looking for such amenities.

Besides, non-traditional students are usually students who have continued their education after having to take a break because of work or family obligations. These students want to finish their education and they do not need anymore distractions.

Developers need to take into account the institution’s student population. Academic amenities such as private study rooms and labs would benefit non-traditional students. Playrooms for children would be helpful for non-traditional students with families.

There’s profit from serving non-traditional students too if developers provide these options: That’s the point isn’t it?

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