Leashed to the lease

GVL Editorial Board

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It’s October of your freshman year. You haven’t even been through your first round of final exams, and you already need to answer a crucial question: Where are you going to live next year? The GVSU Office of Housing and Residence Life is sending you emails to secure an on-campus spot, while sponsored planes from off-campus apartments soar above your head at football games.

For many students, this is the first lease they will sign, and landlords can take advantage of that inexperience. On top of the rush of the school year, the stress of finding a place to live can be overwhelming. Some students just sign with one of the first places that they hear about, just to get it over with.

For Grand Valley students, however, there is an even bigger problem: cost. The average rent to live off-campus in Allendale has risen to a ridiculous level. Believe it or not, Allendale is the most expensive city for renters in the state of Michigan.

This is a problem, because ultimately, most students want to live close to campus. Living in Allendale, directly on the bus route, makes life much more convenient. It’s much easier to get to morning classes, run home during breaks between classes, or get involved with a student organization. 

Local landlords, it seems, prioritize amenities over affordability. They scramble to offer tenants the best options, from pools to fitness centers to tanning beds. While some students are willing to pay for luxury, most prefer to sacrifice frills for a cheaper monthly rent.

Financial aid plays a part, as well. When students take out loans to pay for tuition, some request additional funds to pay rent. It is not far-fetched to assume that local landlords take advantage of that fact.

If housing prices continue to increase at a disproportionate rate to other university towns, students may seek  different options. Some might find places outside of Allendale. Others may find it practical not to return to GV at all. Some prospective students and their parents might see housing costs as a negative factor in attending GV in the first place.

The GV administration prides itself on creating a campus community where students can thrive. Affordable housing is a key element of any inclusive community. Whether on or off campus, Allendale needs more affordable living options.