As construction on college and university campuses continues its record pace, new housing projects are among the types of facilities most often built. This is in response to a number of factors, including rapidly rising enrollments, a growing demand by students for on-campus housing and the desire of colleges to keep students in the institutional environment.

While the total cost and overall size of newly constructed housing facilities remained steady compared with last year's survey, the cost and square footage per resident dropped considerably, according to American School & University's 13th annual survey of residence hall construction.

Making an investment

Construction and cost data for new residence hall projects can be found in Table 1, which breaks out information from lowest to highest and by averages and medians. It is recommended that median figures be used when comparing data. Medians are determined to provide more accurate cost and size variables than averages.

Total cost for new residence halls put in place in 2001 ranged from a low of $550,000 to a high of $32 million. The cost of the median project was $5 million (down slightly from $5.3 million last year); the average project cost was $7.6 million. Size of projects ranged from 6,000 square feet to 600,000 square feet. The median residence hall was 40,000 square feet (nearly identical to last year's survey result); the average project was 70,773 square feet.

As it was the year before, the median new housing facility was built to accommodate 150 residents, while the average housed 187. The number of beds ranged from a low of 45 to a high of 440. Cost per resident dropped considerably from what was reported last year. The median new residence hall cost $34,503 per resident (down from $45,000 in 2000).

The amount of square feet per resident provided at the median new housing project sank to 291 from 320 the year before. The amount of square feet per resident ranged from a low of 93 to a high of 1,364.

Cost per square foot for newly constructed residence halls increased slightly to approximately $128 compared with $126 in 2000. The average project cost $147 per square foot.