Fifteen University of Maryland students have accepted a monetary incentive from the Department of Resident Life to cancel their on-campus housing agreements, the department said.
The department began advertising July 6 a $750 incentive for the first 50 students to cancel their on-campus housing contract.
The deadline to accept the offer was Monday.
The announcement came more than a month after the department said it would be converting some dorm lounges into bedrooms for students to make up for overbooked campus housing.
"As a result of some fantastic recruitment efforts and the strength of the Maryland brand this year, we've experienced a higher than expected confirmation rate for the incoming class and thus a higher desire or a marked increase in the number of housing requests we've received from new students who met the May 1 deadline," Resident Life communications and marketing assistant director Tracy Kiras said. "This is something that we have faced before and we have been able to use creative problem-solving solutions to be able to house our students."
Lately, increasing enrollment numbers have troubled the department, and they're waiting on new infrastructure to address the issue. For the 2016-2017 school year, for example, nearly 500 more students than anticipated accepted this university's admission offer.
A $97 million dorm on North Campus has been approved as part of a 15-year plan "to enhance the Maryland Residential Experience," university spokesperson Jessica Jennings wrote in an email. The new housing is expected to accommodate about 900 students.
Kiras said the department arrived at the amount of $750 because they know that amount could subsidize a commuter parking permit or a dining hall meal plan for commuters or off-campus students.
Rising junior marketing major Lidija Jurovich said she didn't accept the incentive to cancel her housing for the year in Kent Hall because she didn't want to go through the "struggle" of trying to find other housing.
"It's a little ridiculous to expect people that are coming into UMD as freshman to just take the $750 and try to go find their own housing, especially if people don't know the area very well," Jurovich said.
Resident Life sees increased activity in housing agreement cancellation around July 1, the penalty-free cancellation deadline, and after July 18 when housing assignment notifications are released, Kiras said, so the department will have a better idea of the number of students living on campus after that date.
"I feel like there's going to be a lot of those forced triples and quads for freshman," Jurovich said. "That's a horrible experience, so that really sucks for the incoming class, I think."
Rising sophomore psychology major Ben Bradshaw was more sympathetic to Resident Life's plight, and said he prefers this to the department theoretically kicking students out of housing.
"I obviously have never been in a situation where I'm in control of the living situations of like 15,000 people," he said, "but I'd imagine that you can't have an exact idea of how many people are coming to your school and then how many of those people are going to need housing."
Bradshaw said he considered canceling because after he originally applied for housing last semester, he realized that paying for it while living about 30 minutes away from campus might not be the most financially responsible decision. Ultimately, he decided not to cancel so that he could live with his friends and because getting an assignment in his desired building, Montgomery Hall, "was already such a pain in the ass … that I was like, 'I did not do all that for nothing.'"
There will be an off-campus living fair Friday in the Stamp Colony Ballroom from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Kiras said.