Thousands of Cal State Fullerton students struggle with housing costs. Students with limited incomes who don’t live with their parents have few affordable housing options. Some have been forced to live in their cars or to “couch surf” just so they can afford the cost of an education.
An estimated 8.7 percent of California State University students are considered “housing insecure,” according to a 2015 study conducted by the CSU Chancellor’s office.
At CSUF, housing costs can be up to three times the cost of tuition for one semester.
CSUF provides housing for approximately 2,600 of the university’s around 40,000 students. Freshmen live in residence halls and sophomores and above live in apartments with kitchens. All students are required to purchase a meal plan which is factored into their housing price.
The yearly cost for freshmen, which does not include the summer, ranges from $15,078 to $15,618 depending on what kind of meal plan they purchase. Living in an apartment can cost you anywhere from $11,178 to $16,380 depending on the size of the apartment and the meal plan they choose.
Many students simply can’t afford these prices and either move back with their parents, find a place off campus or become displaced.
When health science major Josie Xing enrolled at CSUF, she did her research.
“Either way, I was going to live near school away from home since my house is too far for me to commute, so it was either between taking out $10,000 of loans per year to live in the dorms or taking $5,000 out per year to live in the apartments.”
One-bedroom apartments near College Park at UCE Apartments start at $1,491 a month. Three people can split a one-bedroom making each person’s monthly payment $497. Each person signs an annual contract which will add up to $5,964 for the 12 months. This does not include utilities or meals but each apartment includes a kitchen.
Meal plans can account for up to $3,948 of the total cost for students living in on-campus housing.
Cal State Fullerton Housing and Residential requires for all campus residents to purchase a meal plan offered by the university. However, California law specifically gives students an opportunity to opt out of the meal plan.
“A president may require all licensees to purchase meals at specified campus food service facilities. If a licensee shows good cause, the president may excuse the licensee from purchasing meals at facilities on the campus,” according to the law.
The CSUF student housing contract includes an explanation of the law:
“If licensee would like to request to opt out of the meal plan, a request must be made in writing to the Housing Office, but the University in its sole discretion, will decide whether to grant or deny the request to opt out.”
Only a handful of students each year express interest in opting out of the meal plan, said Larry Martin, director of housing and residential engagement.
“What we do is we connect them with the Gastronome because it’s usually due to some dietary restriction,” Martin said.
Every time the Gastronome has been able to accommodate those students, Martin said.