College life usually conjures images of instant ramen in cramped dorm rooms, not breakfast buffets and maid service.
But the latter is a reality for 109 Florida Atlantic University students moved to an off-campus hotel because — for the first time in at least a decade — the university overbooked its on-campus dorms.
More returning and new students applied to live on-campus than the number of available beds, said Corey King, the university’s vice president for student affairs.
“What we have is the perfect storm,” King said.
The 109 students are being housed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott on Airport Road, about a mile drive from the Boca Raton campus. The hotel, near Boca Raton Airport, costs about $80 a night, according to several popular reservation websites.
For students, a semester at the hotel costs $3,650 per student for a standard double suite, $5,180 per student for a double king suite and $5,680 for a single king suite — which matches the rates of comparable rooms on campus.
If campus housing opens up, the students will be transferred to dorms or apartments, King said.
The setup has its perks, like continental breakfast buffets, maid service, access to the pool and hotel linen and towels.
But there are pitfalls, too. Hotel-dwellers can’t bring any furniture, only small storage bins, according to a housing fact sheet distributed to students, published by the University Press, FAU’s student newspaper.
Students who share a double room have just one closet and one chest to split. The hotel doesn’t have accessible laundry machines, so those staying at the Fairfield Inn will have to trek to campus to wash their clothes at a dorm building.
The hotel rooms each have a mini-fridge and microwave, Wi-Fi, cable and a free shuttle service to campus.
A few resident assistants will live at the hotel and enforce all the university’s conduct rules, officials said.
Some students are delighting in the posh atmosphere, but dreading the idea of moving mid-semester, the University Press’ Cameren Boatner reports.
“The worst part, for me, is the fact that at any moment they can tell me I have to move out of the hotel and back to campus in the middle of the semester,” senior Kate McPartland told the University Press. “If they’re going to make a mistake like this, they should at least allow us to settle in somewhere while we are focusing on school instead of uprooting us in the middle of the year.”
The demand for campus housing has fueled a two-part plan to expand the number of apartments and dorms on the Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses, said Michael Cocuzza, executive director of housing.
The public university can now house 4,165 students.
It plans to knock down its 96-bed Algonquin Hall dormitory, built in 1965, four years after the university was founded. In Algonquin’s place, FAU will build a 600-bed facility by 2021, Cocuzza said.
That’s phase one.
In the second phase of the plan, FAU will tear down its 430-bed University Village Apartments and build a 1,000-bed facility by 2024.
At the same time, the university will replace a 150-bed building on the Jupiter honors campus with a 430-bed building.
That campus too fills beds to capacity, Cocuzza said.
The demand comes despite competition from private off-campus housing, such as student apartment complexes University Park, University View and University Square all within 2 miles of the Boca Raton campus.
The convenience of living on campus, because of amenities, events, academic advising and more, has drawn a flood of returning students, King said. About 46 percent of those living on campus this fall have lived on campus before, a historic high.
“I think the situation does speak to the fact that the university is becoming more of a residential campus,” King said.
Follow Boca Raton reporter Lulu Ramadan on Twitter at @luluramadan.