In response to student needs and economic changes in West Virginia and the surrounding region, Fairmont State University has taken critical action to address student housing insecurities for its campus community. Beginning in the fall of 2022, Fairmont State will offer a limited number of significantly discounted rooms on campus through a housing affordability initiative focusing on Morrow Hall, the University’s most historic residence hall, located in the heart of its hilltop campus.
Housing insecurity has become an increasingly concerning trend in higher education. Students or prospective students who lack reliable, safe housing face significant physical, emotional and financial issues that can prevent continued enrollment and graduation. Economic impacts from the pandemic, skyrocketing costs of housing and rent and most recently the effects of inflation have exacerbated this issue.
The Hope Center’s #RealCollegeSurvey found that 43 percent of students at four-year institutions experienced housing insecurity in the fall of 2020, a staggering 23 percent higher than the last pre-pandemic semester. Housing or basic needs insecurity does not always equate to homelessness. However, minority, marginalized or lower-income students may be impacted at a disproportionately higher rate.
Fairmont State University has the privilege of serving a population of students who are more likely to be first generation students, or from a background that makes them more susceptible to housing and basic needs insecurity. The University has the responsibility to ensure that students have the opportunity to afford safe, comfortable and reliable housing while they pursue a transformative education. Through this work, the University serves the region and the State of West Virginia.
Alicia Kalka, a proud West Virginian and Fairmont State University assistant vice president of enrollment and student life, believes the University is providing access to higher education to students who may have previously believed that college was unattainable.
“Providing students with affordable on campus housing creates access to a transformative education,” Kalka said. “I’m happy to see that so many of our students from within the State of West Virginia and beyond are taking advantage of this opportunity at Fairmont State. We are making a difference.”
With this in mind, Fairmont State’s Office of Residential and Student Life set out to lower the cost of housing in Morrow Hall, and offer other discounts to encourage engaging, community-style living. For the least expensive room, students will pay only $1,600 per semester, with the potential for further discounts if the student is a member of the University’s marching band. Even without discounts or other aid, this is less than half the national average cost for housing on college campuses.
Jeremiah Kibler, a southern West Virginia native and Fairmont State University associate director of housing and residence life and chief judicial officer, acknowledges this move allows for more affordable housing for all students and helps the University move toward the vision of being nationally recognized as a model for an accessible learner-centered institution.
“Fairmont State has a long tradition of serving West Virginia,” Kibler said. “At a time when costs of living are increasing, we need to continue to stay committed to who we are as an institution in serving our state.”
Fairmont State provides all students with the opportunity to access federal financial aid grants and loans, in addition to a lengthy list of scholarships. Seeking student employment on campus is also an effective way for students to offset or eliminate expenses related to housing, meals or tuition. Several initiatives and student organizations, including the Student Government Association, also sponsor programs that offer no-questions-asked free food or meals to students in need.
For more information on admissions, financial aid and housing options, contact the Office of Admissions and Welcome Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-367-4010.