Top 10 Housing Questions

Good evening, everyone. Welcome to our Facebook Live event. My name is Tony Torres, and I’m an admissions counselor for the University of Illinois. And my name is Mari Anne Brocker Curry, and I’m an associate director with University Housing here at Illinois. Today we’re going to be focusing on Housing, and right now to get started, we’re going to be giving you a quick look around the room we’re currently in. You’ll see here that this is an example of
a standard double room in Nugent Hall, which is one of our newer construction buildings
that was built in 2010 to 12. Each room comes with two beds, two desks, drawers, dressers, and two locking closets that each roommate has access to their own locking space. The beds in the room are configurable. So in this instance, we have two beds at a
mid-loft, but you can see that they could be bunked or high lofted to create some more floor space in the room and make the room a little bit larger. There’s a fun chair over in the corner that
a student brought themselves. You are welcome to make it your own. You’ll have an opportunity to talk with your
roommate before you come to campus and decide how you’d like to decorate your room, configure your beds, and who’s bringing what to campus in the fall. This definitely looks better than my room! So, we collected a list of the top 10 questions we typically see incoming freshmen typically ask of the Housing department. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to get to
questions at the end, but if you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out
to either of us. So, to get started, if I were to be an incoming freshman, how would I get my location preference? So, the University Housing contract is now
an online contract where students can pick their specific room. So that’s something that’s new; it just happened in the last couple of years. It’s a two-part process. So part one of the online contract is an opportunity for you to do your preferences and list locations and shop for roommates. And part two is the part where you actually
pick your space. So in part one, you’re going to do some high-level preferencing. Maybe you’re going to pick your neighborhood, or the Living-Learning Community you’re interested in. If you pick an LLC, or Living-Learning Community, you’ll be prompted to write an essay. And then, if you’re approved for that Living-Learning Community, you’ll have an entry time that allows you to pick a space in that particular
building. If you’re preferencing just a general neighborhood, when you get your entry time later in the process, you’ll be able to pick a building
based on a more specific set of preferences. So we really encourage folks to do a general prioritization, including any LLCs that you’re interested in, on part one. But between part one and part two, go back and dig down into that list and make it more detailed. So instead of giving us six area preferences, pick buildings, specific buildings—10, 12, 15. Make sure that you have one building in every neighborhood. So if your random entry time arrives and there’s nothing in your first preference in that neighborhood, you have a plan B, C, and so on. And we’ve shown you this beautiful room in
Nugent. Our new construction spaces are a little limited. Returning residents, it’s a great perk of
being a returning resident, is you get first grabs at spaces in our inventory. But that means that sometimes spaces in new construction are limited for freshmen. Thank you. So if I were to be looking for a specific
roommate, or if I know someone currently going to be going here, maybe a current student
or maybe a future student, how would that process go about getting a specific roommate? Sure. So back to that part one and part two. In part one, there’s an opportunity for you
to answer some profile questions about yourself, and then answer those same questions for the kind of person you’re looking for in a roommate. Now, these aren’t questions about your identity, what kind of music you listen to, or anything like that. It’s about living in a space this size with
someone else. So it really is more about, do you like to
study with music on? Do you like to sleep with lights on or off? How do you feel about sharing personal belongings? Those are the kinds of questions that you’re going to answer. And then, when you’re choosing a roommate, if you know a specific roommate, you can type in their university ID number and search for
them, request them, and they can accept your request and you can become mutually accepted roommates. Or you can shop. You can shop by profile questions. So if the quiet study environment is my most important factor, then I can search by that profile question and then start to have conversations in the portal with someone who’s answered the question in the way that I’m looking for
it to be answered. So you have an opportunity to message back and forth with someone who’s answered the questions the way you want them to be answered. And then you can decide ultimately if you
want to mutually accept roommates. Now, the important part to that is, it doesn’t
automatically put you in the same space. So oftentimes, folks will call and say, “Well,
I did this mutual roommate request. It said we were accepted, but we’re not in
the same room. What happened?” And that’s because people need to take additional action. So you mutually accepted in part one. What that means is you’re getting the same
entry time in part two. But you still have to log into the system
and you still have to find a double room with two available spaces that you can each select during the room selection process. I think I answered ahead on you. That’s fine, that’s fine. Which comes to the next question, which is
a very popular question I hear from not just students, but parents: How does the meal plan work, and what is typically the most common meal plan that you see students going for? Sure. In University Housing, we have four meal plans to choose from. They’re comprised of two different types of
currencies. So we have a classic meal, which is an all-you-care-to-eat meal. So one swipe gets you into the dining hall,
and you can eat as much as you’d like while you’re in the dining hall during that time. And then there’s a cafe credit, which one
credit equals one dollar. So a cafe credit is more like a declining
balance portion of your meal plan. The most common meal plans are the meal plans that have a combination of those classic meals and cafe credits, because it gives students
the most flexibility. So 12 classic meals with 15 cafe credits,
for example, is a popular plan. Those 12 classic meals are provided for you every week. So you get 12 meals. If you don’t use them, you lose them. And you get 12 more each Sunday morning. Again, you get 12 a week. For the 15 cafe credits, those do replenish
on Sunday morning as well, but they have a little bit of a rollover. So if you start out with 15 cafe credits and
you use none, the next week you’ll have 30. If you still don’t use any cafe credits, the
first week will drop off, and you’ll retain the second and third week’s worth of credit. So you’ll have 30 credits. You max out at double, more or less. So I think the reason why those two are so
popular is because it allows students to get the value of an all-you-care-to-eat meal on
the meal periods where they eat larger meals, but it still gives them an opportunity to
grab a box of cereal and milk for their room with cafe credits or a late-night pizza or
bagels and cream cheese or a sandwich on the way to class. So the great thing about University Dining
is that you can eat at any of our dining halls. So there are six all-you-care-to-eat facilities
and lots of other a la carte or grab-and-go locations where you use cafe credits. So generally there’s at least one type of
each venue in your neighborhood, and so if you have credits and classic meals, you can use both currencies in the neighborhood where you live, or you can go to the neighborhood
that’s closest to where you have class. Well, who doesn’t like late-night pizza? We even have a late-night location, so PAR
is home to our late-night dinner from 8 p.m. to midnight, and it’s the same charge at the
door for lunch, so you’re getting a great deal from 8 p.m. to midnight in PAR. It makes PAR a very popular location. And I used to go there all the time, not going to lie. It’s good stuff! So, going on to the next question, what is
the difference between a community bathroom and an individual-use bathroom? I know privacy typically comes up, and they
just want to know more information about that. So in University Housing, the majority of
our floor plans and styles involve community bathrooms. So that’s the majority of our spaces, which
means that you have a double room, you go out into the hall, down the hall, and there’s
a series of stalls. There’s still privacy. There are still doors on the showers and the toilets. But they’re grouped together. So several stalls of showers, several stalls
of toilets, and a bank of sinks. So that’s a traditional community-style bathroom. It’s a great place to get to know the members of your floor, the RAs love it because they get to advertise what’s going on in the hall
and get people in the know. So our community bathrooms are popular in that regard. But, as we started to build new construction, students told us that they wanted more privacy. So every time we remodel a bathroom or build a new building, we’re adding different styles of bathrooms. In Nugent, we have some community bathrooms, but instead of 20 to 30 people sharing a bathroom, now it’s 8 to 10 people sharing a bathroom. We also added individual-use restrooms. So that’s kind of a self-contained unit that
you go in, lock the door, and you’re the only person in there. You have your own shower, toilet, and sink
while you’re in the bathroom. And when you’re finished, somebody else can use it behind you. So there’s really becoming more of a combination of bathrooms throughout University Housing. We have a sophomore and older building, Bousfield Hall. And Sherman and Daniels are our graduate,
upper-division halls that have suite-style accommodations. So we have those floor plans in University
Housing as well. But, in terms of the bathrooms, we’ve really
strived to provide a variety of options to choose from. So when you use our compare options tool online, you can actually select different bathroom types, and it will show you which buildings
have those bathroom types. We just added some individual-use bathrooms in PAR, so now PAR not only has late-night dining and a newer dining hall, but it has
some individual-use restrooms on the floors, and two of the four buildings have air conditioning. Awesome. Yeah! Okay, so, I’m sure there are some students
out there who would love to leave home as soon as possible and get their college experience going as soon as possible. So what if I wanted to get to my residence
hall, my room, earlier than expected? Sure. So the university residence halls open on
the Thursday before classes begin. So I think this year that’s August 24th. But the Sunday prior to that is Early Arrival. And so any time after noon on that Sunday,
you can come. No prior approval is necessary, you just show up. And we check you in when you get here, and then we bill your student account for Early Arrival later. So in University Housing, Early Arrival is
a $60 per night fee that includes your room and some Early Arrival meals since your actual contract doesn’t start until Thursday. So certainly you can come. If you’re part of a group like Marching Illini,
you may be part of a group that’s covering some of the cost of your Early Arrival. And we work that out on the back end. But if you are an individual student who just wants to come because mom and dad have to work on Thursday and they can’t make it, that’s fine too. You can come any day after Sunday at noon, show up, we’ll check you in, and then later in the year your student account will be billed. Now, our Living-Learning Communities open on Tuesday instead of Thursday. So if you are coming and you’ve been approved and assigned to a Living-Learning Community, and you’re participating in that Living-Learning Community’s orientation, then you’re going to get emails that say come on Tuesday. And your orientation fee will cover move-in. So you either pay Early Arrival or you pay
the orientation fee. Thank you. Now, what if I need break housing? So in University Housing, we actually have
just expanded some of our break housing in the last year or two. For students who need break housing for all three semesters in undergraduate residence halls, Illinois Street Residence Hall and
Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall stay open all three breaks. So if you choose to assign to one of those
buildings, you can stay in your room over break. Now again, the cost of those breaks are not included in the contract amount. So there is an extra fee for those nights—$40 a night, so there are no meals included. If there are meals included, you can purchase those separately. So $40 a night will get you the opportunity
to stay in your own room over those breaks. Now if you live somewhere that doesn’t have break housing, you certainly can still contract for break housing. You would just pack up a bag and stay in a
lounge over break for break housing in ISR or PAR. That’s not as scary as it sounds. It’s a lounge, but we take out all the lounge
furniture and we put in beds and armoires, and there are locks on the doors. So it becomes your temporary room over break if you need break housing. So that’s if you have all three breaks. If you really just want to stay for the shorter
breaks, like you need fall break or spring break housing, then you have some additional locations. You can stay in your room at FAR, you can
stay in your room or in a lounge at Snyder Hall if space is available. So particularly international students, out-of-state students are always interested in break housing. But if you just going to stick around and
do some traveling or you need an extended stay, those break housing nights will work
for that as well. Yeah, that definitely could come in handy. So, what if I need special accommodations? Like for example, I hate peanuts. They’re delicious, but I am allergic. So, what would be in that situation? So in part one of your contract, one of the
very first pages, or steps in the process, is the personal contact and details page. So you’re going to verify a lot of the information at the campus level. You can’t really change it; you’re just verifying it’s correct. Then you’re adding some additional information—emergency contact information, authorized contacts if you want us to be able to talk to mom or dad or a guardian. But then there’s also an opportunity for you
to tell us if you have special needs. So maybe there’s a disability that you need
to notify us of, or a medical condition that you have that impacts your housing. Or a dietary concern. There are three separate boxes at the end
of that page: one for disability, one for medical, and one for dietary. So those are the ones that are very specific. Maybe you’re registered with DRES and you
know that you have an accommodation that you need in your room. Maybe it’s a strobe light, so when the fire
alarm goes off, you can’t hear it but you can see it. And then there’s a fourth box that isn’t affiliated with anything specific; it’s just “other.” I encourage folks to put something in that
box. If they’re super tall and this extra-long
twin isn’t long enough, they need a bed extender. We have bed extenders; you can tell us that
you need it in that “other” category. Or if you have asthma and you want to be sure that you have air. You can put anything that doesn’t fit in those other boxes in the “other” category. Sometimes we have transgender students. They’ll let us know about their transgender
needs in that box as well. So there’s an opportunity for you to tell
us what you need in the personal contacts and details. And what that does is it alerts us that we
need to start a conversation. We need to talk about what it is exactly that you need. The dietary things go to the nutritionist. She reaches out, makes sure that you have
what you need, you know how to navigate the dining hall, you know how to navigate the
mobile app so you can set your filter to exclude anything that includes nuts. So those are just conversation starters. It’s not the end. In some cases, we’re going to write back to
you and say, “If you need air conditioning, you can pick that on your own. We don’t need to intervene.” In other cases, it’s a very specific need
and a specific room, and we’re going to have to help with that assignment. So we’ll do that instead of allowing you to
pick your own space. But it really just gets the ball rolling. One thing I will say is that if you don’t
have a need, don’t put “N/A,” don’t put “None.” Just don’t put anything. Because if there’s nothing in the field, then
we won’t look at it. If there’s something in the field, even if
it is “Not Applicable,” we’re still going to look at those to make sure that there isn’t something that you need. Thank you. Now, how would the payment work? How would the billing the student account,
how would all that work? Yeah, so University Housing is billed to the
student account. So we do that in semester installments. We bill half of the annual fee that you’ll
find on the rates page one semester, and the other half second semester. You’ll pay at the time that you contract a
$200 fee. $50 of that is a nonrefundable application
fee. $150 of that is an advance payment that gets applied to your spring room and board. So if you split the room and board that you
see online in half, the spring installment of that will be $150 less because we’re going to apply credit to that. Now if you are a student who has a university application that’s been waived, so you didn’t have to pay the enrollment fee or the application fee at the university level, then your housing application fee will be waived and the advance payment will be deferred. So it will show up on your student account
in the fall after you’ve received the financial aid. The good thing about that is we have it set
up to where we get those names automatically. So you won’t be prompted to pay if you have the waiver. If our office doesn’t have a record that you
have the waiver, then you’ll be prompted to pay as a part of your online contract. Now once we do the billing, it really is up
to student accounts. So if the student is interested in a payment
plan or installments, they’re going to work with the Office of Student Financial Services and Cashiering Operations, USFSCO. And they are going to help with installments, payment plans. And they would be who you will talk to to
kind of manage everything that hits your student account. One thing I will say is that Private Certified
Housing does not show up on your student account. So if you are choosing some place like Bromley or Hendrick House or Newman Hall, you’ll see tuition and fees, and then there won’t be
a line item for housing. That’s because you pay those facilities directly. It doesn’t mean that you can’t use financial
aid to live there, but you should just ask them, “What is your financial aid plan?” Maybe they’ll defer your payment until you
get your aid in the fall, or they’ll give you smaller payments until you get your aid. But they do that all individually. So in some cases, you would get a sizable
refund. It’s just important to remember that you haven’t paid housing yet, so don’t go buying new shoes and new speakers until you make sure you’ve paid all of your housing costs. Definitely. Alright, well, actually, this goes into my
next question. What if I were to be interested in Private
Certified maybe my second semester or University Housing my second semester and I lived in
the other location? Yeah, so the university and each of the individual Private Certified units have a thing called a reciprocal agreement. So it allows you to cancel one contract to
move to another. Sometimes you can do that simultaneously, but there is some paperwork associated, and you can only do it one time in a given academic
year. So you kind of as you’re shopping around want to make sure that you’re set on where you want to live and you don’t want to use that
get-out-of-jail-free card unless you have to. But Private Certified Housing is certified
for all new students, freshmen and transfers. And it is a very viable option for a lot of
freshmen. So 25% of the freshman class lives in Private Certified Housing. And then within the individual buildings,
like Bromley Hall, 80 to 90% are freshmen. So you’re not going to be the only freshman
in Private Certified Housing. It really is just a matter of what is it that’s
driving your decision for housing. So when I talk to new students about housing, I always say, “What are your deal breakers? What do you need to be successful? Do you need a more semi-private bathroom or air conditioning? Are you more interested in being in a Living-Learning Community?” Our office can then help narrow down your
choices based on what your deal breakers are, what those priorities are that you have for
housing. So in Private Certified Housing, you may say, sign up for University Housing and you’re going to see based on your entry time if you get one of the preferences that you want. And if you get one of your preferences but
it’s not your first preference, you might say, “Well, maybe Private Certified is a better option.” The difference is that Private Certified does
first come, first serve. So they’re going to contract now all the way
through August first come, first serve. It’s not going to be about a random entry
time or a priority application date. So if you’re interested in Private Certified,
you want to start talking to them sooner rather than later. They won’t lease to you unless they have space, so you don’t have to worry about signing up with them and then being left without a space. We guarantee housing for all freshmen. So between University Housing and Private
Certified, we will have a space for you somewhere. Okay. Now you just mentioned one of the differences between Private Certified and University Housing. Can you name any other differences between the two? Sure. So the process, the application is different,
because each of the privately owned facilities are owned and operated by different folks. They have a set of standards that they must maintain to be certified. But their contracts are all a little bit different. So they have the reciprocal agreement as part of their contract, but they may have a different app fee, they may have different deposits,
they may have different roommate matching processes. Newman Hall, for example, is very similar
to University Housing. You go in and pick your exact space. Whereas other PCH facilities, they’re going
to take roommate matching cards by hand and place you in a roommate assignment by hand the old-school way. So there’s definitely a variety of differences
in terms of the process and the fees that you would pay associated with Private Certified, but there’s also a little bit of difference in terms of floor plan. So sometimes there’s a square footage difference. In Private Certified Housing they have semi-private bathrooms and more suite-style options than you’ll find in University Housing in housing
that’s most common for freshmen. So in Private Certified Housing, you might
find two bedrooms that flank a bathroom, kind in a Jack and Jill, four residents sharing
a bathroom rather than 8 to 10 or 20 to 30. You might also find rooms that are more like a suite, so they have an in-room kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room that is shared by four residents. Now one thing that’s similar about Private
Certified and University Housing is they all have residence life staff. So we’ve got RAs in University Housing that
are on the floors making sure that you’re getting acclimated, you have the resources
that you need, that you’re getting to know everybody on your floor. PCH has those staffing components as well. So you’ll have an RA that can help you get
to university events, that can help you find the counseling center or the health center. Those things are standard between the two
types of housing. Where they become programmatically different are things like Living-Learning Communities or religious affiliations. So you’re not going to find a Living-Learning Community in PCH. Those are very unique to University Housing. But Private Certified Housing has religious
affiliations. So Newman Hall is affiliated with the Catholic church, for example. Those affiliations aren’t in University Housing. So those are differences programmatically. And then the meal plan is another big difference. So University Housing, as I mentioned earlier, you can eat at any of our dining halls as long as you’re a resident in University Housing. In Private Certified Housing, you’ll need
to check with the facility where you live. Hendrick House does the food service for several of our PCH units, so you may have some flexibility to move around. If you live in Newman or Armory or Presby
or Nika, you can eat at Hendrick House or some of those others because the food service is all done by Hendrick. But other PCH units, you might be only able
to eat where you live. Now they still do things to make it convenient. So they extend the dining hours. Sometimes depending on the facility they’ll
have a late plate if you’re going to miss because you’re at class, or a sack lunch if
you’ve got to take something with you to go to class. So it’s important as you’re taking a tour
or you’re emailing them and asking them questions online that you ask about the flexibility
of the meal plan, and really even the type of meal plan. Because while we have classic meals and cafe credits, they may have declining balances that extend over the whole semester. They may have 14 meals a week or two meals a day. It’s going to vary by PCH facility. And then the last thing I would say is Private Certified is 100% air conditioned. So if air conditioning is one of those deal
breakers, you’ll find air conditioning throughout Private Certified. You’ll find air conditioning throughout about 60 to 65% of University Housing. So if you are one of those students that has asthma or has a medical need for air conditioning, it’s important that you’re looking at all
the halls across our inventory that have air so that you can choose one that meets your needs. Okay. Thanks! Alright, I’d like to thank you all for tuning
in. I’d like to say congrats to all the incoming
freshmen that are coming this fall. Welcome to the Fighting Illini. I-L-L! I-N-I! Thank you.

3 Replies to “Top 10 Housing Questions”

  1. Does anyone know how step two of the housing process works? Is there a limited time for me to select the same room as my roommate and how do we communicate and select the same room? Also since I am a freshmen would it be hard for me to get into the LLC cause the music lessons seem interesting to me

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