JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Next year’s freshman class, Fall 2017, at the University of North Florida will have more freedom and more money than co-eds before them. This comes as the school changes its mandate that all freshman students live on campus.
Over the past few years, it was mandatory for freshmen to stay on campus, which increased numbers by almost 4,000 in student housing. The goal was to to change the atmosphere of UNF from a commuter campus to a traditional campus seen at other large universities.
Starting in 2017, all students will have the choice of living on or off campus.
"I wish they would have had that for us, because then I could have saved $5,000," said Cidney Wright, UNF Sophomore.
Wright is coming off her freshman year, which she had to live on campus. Now she's a commuter student.
Meanwhile Jarrett O'Leary is a different type of commuter student, being from South Florida. He lived off campus and said he gained a different experience.
"I just feel like, I think living off campus, I have a little more...not freedom, but I grew up a little bit. So, I've learned a lot this summer, getting a house and this and that. So, that's really the main reason why. It was a good experience for. It really was," said O'Leary.
UNF Vice President Thomas Serwatka wants students to have the best experience possible but also wants them to graduate. National studies, and one done by the university, show a correlation in higher graduation rates tied to living and involvement on campus. But, Serwatka realizes not everyone can afford that.
“There are some families that feel that they…even though they…what’s called the FAFSA, which is the application for federal money…even though the FAFSA would say that they have enough money, they still don’t feel that they can do this and they bring different reasons for this, and so forth. So, we’re going to loosen up a little bit," said Serwatka.
Serwatka said. although it’s no longer mandatory for freshman to stay on campus, he hopes students will choose to do so because not only does it benefit them academically, but it livens up the place.