With the closing of the Hibben and Magie apartment buildings this past summer, securing housing near campus became a more difficult task for a sizable number of graduate students.
“Over the next several years, until the construction of the new Lakeside apartments is complete, graduate students can expect fewer available on-campus housing options,” said Chad Maisel, a second-year M.P.A. student at the Woodrow Wilson School and president of the Graduate Student Government (GSG). “Improving housing options for students is one of the Graduate Student Government’s top priorities.”
Many grad students work at odd hours and must juggle family and teaching responsibilities, which can make commuting from off-campus especially burdensome, Maisel said.
Tim Brandt, a fifth-year astronomy Ph.D. student who heads the GSG’s facilities committee, said the University offers “excellent housing at a pretty substantial discount on market rates,” as well as Internet service and shuttle service to campus.
“It’s like night and day,” said real-estate agent Dianne Bleacher of the difference in rent between University housing and the private market. While one-bedroom University apartments for grad students cost $1,071 to $1,127 per month plus utilities, a one-bedroom apartment in town within walking distance of campus can cost $1,500 to $2,000 plus utilities, she said.
Many students at Hibben-Magie were able to move to the Stanworth apartments, which previously had been reserved for faculty. But there still has been a net loss of 80 to 100 beds in University housing for grad students, according to the University’s Housing and Real Estate Services department.
The GSG surveyed grad students and found “considerable interest” in housing in nearby municipalities, provided the University offered a regular shuttle service to campus, Maisel said.
One idea, Brandt said, would be to create a “mini-Princeton” of rental units in a nearby municipality that uses “some kind of preferred leasing or block leasing to bring down rates and makes it easier to find somewhere to live.”
After a “challenging” year, Maisel said, the University “has indicated a renewed commitment to improving the process for graduate students.” James Poole, manager of graduate housing, said Princeton is committed to housing 70 percent of eligible grad students and to “an open and ongoing dialogue.”