‘Is the risk worth it?’: Students weigh cost of living on campus
Despite most of the UH residence halls remaining open throughout the fall semester, students are left weighing the positives and negatives of canceling their housing contracts and meal plans for Fall 2020 before the housing cancellation deadline.
If a student chooses to cancel his or her housing agreement after July 24, Student Housing and Residential Life will charge them a $300 cancellation fee, according to the SHRL website. After Aug. 17, that student will have to pay the full value of the year-long housing cost, even if he or she won’t be living on campus.
This cancellation deadline left numerous students scrambling to consider their room and board options for the fall.
Changes to meal plans, such as the lack of guest passes, self-serve stations and social distancing requirements at dining commons, may also affect their decisions. Some students may miss sharing stories and laughs with friends over meals.
While one student might find it easy to opt for all online classes and not risk catching COVID-19, others might still prioritize in-person learning or have on-campus obligations, like research or work-study that leads them to keeping their dorms and meal plans.
Education junior Isabel Garza falls into the first category. With all of her classes delivered online, she decided that it would be safer and more cost-efficient to stay home despite initially planning to live on campus.
Garza will be regularly commuting to the University for work at the Children’s Learning Centers.
“My main concern is the health of students and staff at the University, especially for the custodians and such,” Garza said. “I am also concerned about the tuition prices as I am paying the same amount but will only be on campus to work.”
Due to the fluidity of the pandemic, Garza has yet to form plans about where she will live for Spring 2021.
“I want to see how things go with the fall semester and see how things with COVID are before I can make plans to possibly return to living on campus and taking face-to-face classes,” she said.
On the other hand, freshman Tynecia Davis is choosing to live on campus this fall. Davis is currently a Spanish major but hopes to switch to biochemistry.
Davis doesn’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe that COVID-19 may be around for years, so life might never return to the way it was before the virus appeared.
“Ultimately, I had to ask myself, ‘is the risk worth it?’” Davis said. “I decided that while having online classes may be terrible, at least if I was on campus I could take advantage of all the opportunities that are still on campus.”
Davis also mentioned that she had a harder time adjusting to the online transition towards the end of her senior year of high school, which led to her choice of keeping her housing and meal plan even though most of her friends canceled.
Davis also has no plans for Spring 2021 yet, as it largely depends on how her fall semester on campus goes.
“I’m just hoping that I don’t regret the risk I’m taking to go on campus,” she said.