CSU student struggles with rent increase at The Edge
Cleveland State students wanting to live on-campus were promised more options in the university revamp known as CSU 2.0. As part of that plan, the university bought The Edge and The Langton apartments. However, the plan has not worked out as planned for some students, including an up-front demand for a full semester's rent at the start of fall 2023.
Kasey Sheridan, a senior at CSU, has lived at The Edge for the last three years. Prior to the Fall 2023 semester, Sheridan's rent for a four-bedroom apartment was anywhere from $730 to $760 a month.
Sheridan said that instead of paying a flat rate each month, beginning in fall 2023, she, like the other residents, were asked to pay about $5,000 up front at the beginning of the semester, or pay in installments.
Sheridan said she received a notice about CSU buying The Edge, but it was not until the spring 2023 semester that students were informed they would have a payment due up front.
CSU did offer a budget payment plan, allowing students to pay in three smaller installments over the semester instead of one. But for students likes Sheridan living paycheck to paycheck, it was still more than a monthly rent payment. She had to take out an additional student loan to make payments on time.
“It used to be an affordable option for me,” Sheridan said, but once CSU increased the housing rates, “I felt kind of trapped and like, I didn't really have much of a choice. I didn’t have a car at the time, so commuting wasn’t even an option.”
Sheridan added that prior to this fall semester she only had to pay for electricity, and there were no monthly utility charges. She was paying a maximum of about $9,120 for a year's monthly rent before the buyout, substantially less than the current prices (see below, Table 1).
Meal plans were also not required before the buyout. On top of the rental hike, beginning in fall 2023 Sheridan was required to pay out at least $1,000 per semester for a meal plan (see below, Table 2) she did not need. She requested an exemption from the meal plan at her physician’s request due to her medical history, but CSU denied her request.
Behind the rental increase and required meal plan
In March 2021, CSU unveiled a Master Plan for the university's expansion. According to CSU’s Board of Trustees, the Master Plan is meant to enhance student experiences, expand partnerships, and elevate student housing. The plan includes increased housing and social spaces for students. While there are plans to construct new on-campus buildings, CSU also made a $155 million purchase of The Edge and The Langston. Both were popular campus housing options for not only CSU students but also non-student residents.
According to The Cauldron, The purpose of buying The Edge and The Langston was to allow upper-division students the opportunity to live independently while also being involved with the CSU community. CSU wants students to benefit from the connections made from their community resources. However, because The Langston and The Edge were previously rented to non-CSU students, anyone who was not a CSU student was unable to renew their lease beginning in fall 2023.
Housing rates at The Edge and The Langston are as follows on the CSU Housing Rate 2023-2024 Cohort website.
Table 1: The Edge rental rates
Table 1: The Langston rental rates
The Residence Life and Housing website state, “ All residents living in university housing are required to select one of the residential meal plans for the entire academic year”.
Meal plans for on-campus students are as follows:
Table 2: Meal plan rates
Students residing at The Edge and The Langston do not have to leave during Winter Break as long as they have registered to stay and agree to pay an additional fee.
In addition, the rates on the Residence Life website do not include summer contracts. Students who wish to reside at The Edge or The Langston during the summer have the option to stay, but again, for a fee. “Summer would be another contract and there would be an additional cost,” CSU Residence Life & Housing told The Stater in an email.
CSU's President Laura Bloomberg, Ph.D. recently acknowledged that the required dining plan was “somewhat controversial,” but she added that it was "not a unique thing to CSU," and that other universities implement similar policies for their on-campus apartments. She said the acquisition of the two apartment complexes was to provide more “independent” living options for students.
What other options do students have?
The purchase of The Edge and The Langston was a win for CSU’s Master Plan of expansion. But this decision has left students who were paying less per month before the buyout to choose between two options; accept the increased flat rate and required meal plans, or, scour the internet for off-campus housing that is affordable and safe.
Sheridan is still living at The Edge because she could not find anywhere to go in walking distance of campus that was within her budget. She expects to pay over $3,000 more this academic year for housing and food than she has in the past, a stark contradiction to the affordable student housing the administration promised with the purchase of the two buildings. She graduates in May, 2024.
If you are a student looking for other off-campus housing options, please visit the CSU off-campus housing website.