On-campus housing rates would take an even bigger bite out of students’ wallets next year under rate increases proposed by Housing and Residential Services (HRS).

Next year’s proposed increase in student housing rates is currently being negotiated by HRS and the new Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Student Housing (CACSH) for final approval by Chancellor Henry Yang. The current proposal by HRS includes a 4.95 percent increase in room and board rates for residence halls and a 2.95 percent rent increase for undergraduate single student apartments. Single graduate student apartments and family student apartment rates would not change.

HRS’ plan proposes a constant increase in housing rates of 5.95 percent each year after 2004-05 until 2008-09, said HRS Executive Director Wilfred Brown. These increases would provide HRS with enough money to continue operating, renovating and building, while spacing out rate increases paid by students over time. HRS was able to lower the rate of increase this year because it refinanced several housing facilities. Brown said the rate would increase to 5.95 percent because of the costs of purchasing and renovating Francisco Torres Residence Hall, as well as construction at De La Guerra Dining Commons.

“We’ve added a lot of new debt, so we are currently at a debt for the purchase and renovation of Francisco Torres,” Brown said. “We bought FT for about $76 million and we’re spending about $25 million currently on renovation, so that’s being passed on directly to residence hall students. Because we refinanced some of our buildings at a lower rate, we’re passing that savings on to all the students.”

CACSH formed this year in response to the multitude of new and ongoing projects that HRS is involved with. It is an oversight committee chaired by chemistry and biochemistry Professor Richard Watts and composed of students, representatives from Associated Students, the Residence Halls Association, the Graduate Students Association, staff and faculty members.

“This is the first year for this committee,” Vice Chancellor George Pernsteiner said. “It was established to look at a variety of issues involved with student housing, especially the renovations and buildings proposed. [We ask ourselves], are we meeting the needs of students and do we have enough money to do this?”

The yearly rate for a residence hall double room with a 19-meal plan is currently $9,218, a 6.95 percent increase from last year’s housing rate of $8,619. If the housing proposal is approved, next year the rate would be increased to $9,674. The undergraduate single student apartments of El Dorado, Santa Ynez and Westgate currently cost $385 per month per person – a 5.95 percent increase from $363 of last year. Next year, they would cost $396 under the proposed increase.

Next year’s dorm rates for double or single rooms will also include access to any of the four dining commons for 10-, 14- and 19-meal plans. Brown said HRS does not anticipate needing to place three students per room, due to the additional 1,344-student capacity of FT.

Also, $2 of the proposed $456 increase for a student living in a residence hall double room with a 19-meal plan will go toward paying for standard cable services that will be available in all residence halls next year. Brown said HRS worked with Cox Communications to negotiate a reduced rate of $100,000 for cable for all dorm rooms. In previous years, students have had to purchase their own cable.

“We have integrated the basic cable service into the student rate for residence halls and were able to get a substantially discounted rate,” Brown said. “If you plug your TV in you’ll get a certain number of channels, and if you want to get premium or advanced service you have to go down to Cox and get an additional cable box to do that.”

Ultimately, the chancellor will need to approve HRS’ proposal based on recommendations from CACSH and his vice chancellors. Brown said he does not anticipate any problems with the proposal but has had to answer CACSH’s questions about the details of the increase.

“The committee has been working with us the last couple months and they still have questions,” Brown said. “My job is to provide information so they can make an informed recommendation to the chancellor.”

Compared to other UC campuses, UCSB has the fourth most expensive residence hall rates, but rates for family student housing and single student apartments are in the lower third.

“Though I haven’t seen the proposal yet, UCSB housing rates are at the lower end of the UC spectrum. This will probably be maintained,” Pernsteiner said. “It’s good that rates are lower than anticipated, so hopefully the committee will make their recommendation soon.”