| Robin Siteneski reporter |
About three months ago Marissa Ibarra, senior in biology, started a quest familiar to all Pittsburg State students: the search for a place to live for next year.
Finding a place to live takes effort, and Ibarra says she knew this. She wanted to reduce her rent – she currently pays $320 a month plus up to $100 in utilities – and live somewhere with a patio so that she could be outside and so that one of her roommates could have a pet.
“A lot of places went really fast,” she said. “Finally we decided to go look at every place we can and put an application everywhere the day that we looked.”
The struggle to rent the perfect place resulted in losing the roommate with the dog.
Ibarra and her future roommates, Brittney Harper, sophomore in psychology, and Katie Gray, junior in history education, started putting in at least two hours a day for three weeks looking for a place.
“It is hard cause a lot of freshmen start looking a month and a half before school is out,” Harper said. “From the places we saw and potentially wanted, one day you would see a for-rent sign and the other day it was gone.”
They would drive around and pick up phone numbers from places that were for rent, call landlords and look online on Craigslist.
“Craigslist ads are just kind of weird sometimes,” Ibarra said. “They don’t give all the information. Some of them are advertising places that are actually in Girard.”
Harper, Ibarra and Gray have lived in one of the university’s six residence halls until now. They say they won’t come back, however, because of the housing contract prices.
The cheapest shared bedroom offered by University Housing is located in Nation Hall, which is scheduled for renovations this summer.
Pricing for a room works differently than off-campus housing. For a non-renovated room in Nation, says Melissa Beisel, assistant director of university housing, each student must pay $6,936 for next year.
This pays for everything a student needs all year, including all utilities and a seven-day access meal plan. Standard residency costs are billed all at once, but the Cashier’s Office offers various installment plans that function similarly to a monthly rent bill.
Beisel says students choose to live on campus because of the convenience of being close to classes and the all-in-one-package pricing. However, that price is charged per person and cannot be subdivided like a rent bill.
Most students choose to follow the path of Harper and Ibarra and leave the university buildings after their first year.
“Our retention rate is about 20 percent,” Beisel said.
Mariana Berselli, exchange student in international business, is about to join off-campus residents after spending a semester in Tanner Hall.
“I’m leaving because it is too expensive,” Berselli said.
She spent about three weeks looking for a place before settling for University Commons. She plans on cutting her living costs per month from $800 to about $500.
Apply, apply, apply
Ibarra, Harper and Gray found the safest way to get a place to live is turning in an application as soon as possible.
“Once the people turned in their application just a day before,” Gray said. “We kept having bad luck. We were always a day late.”
Last week, they finally signed a lease on a three-bedroom apartment across the street from Russ Hall for $325/month each.
They won’t have the outdoor space Ibarra wanted, but she says she is happy that the place comes with a washer and dryer and that rent includes cable and trash pickup.
“We are probably going to end up paying about the same, but it’s a better location,” Ibarra said.
She is moving from Summerfield Apartments near Via Christie Health. Harper says she found that “places go very quickly” in Pittsburg and that it’s better to start planning sooner rather than later.
“We spent a lot on gas,” Harper said. “But I consider us lucky.”