Northeastern to reduce guaranteed upperclassman housing for incoming, future students


Marta Hill

International Village, alongside East Village, is one of the dorms that will see new beds added this summer as part of Northeastern’s broader plan to accommodate the increased student body.

Andy He, news correspondent

With the recent uptick in enrollment, Northeastern has changed its housing policy to accommodate the growing size of the student body. Beginning Fall 2023, Northeastern will only guarantee first and second-year housing for incoming classes, while accommodations will still be available to students beyond their second year. Prior to the change, Northeastern offered its students guaranteed housing for four years. 

“To clarify, this is not effective immediately; the incoming first-year class of Fall 2023 will not have guaranteed upperclassmen housing. Nothing changes for students currently enrolled,” Northeastern spokesperson Shannon Nargi wrote in an email statement to The News on March 21, 2022.

The change in guaranteed housing may be less impactful than it appears for some students since there are many options for off-campus housing.

“It is important to note that the vast majority of upper-class students already choose to live off-campus,” Nargi wrote.

Several students who spoke to The News already foresee themselves choosing to live off-campus as upperclassmen after being required to live on-campus for their first and second years.

The co-op program creates a unique schedule for housing as many students come and go during each school year. Jessica Gudin, a first-year business administration and economics combined major, said she believes that she will be living off-campus because of her co-op.

“I do think I’ll be living off-campus, probably once it is time for my co-op cycle, as I won’t be in classes for that time and won’t need to be on campus. Also, co-op goes into the summer, and only some of Northeastern’s housing is designated as summer housing,” Gudin said.

Along with co-op, housing selection numbers also play a role in students’ decision-making. Students with a high selection number might not get their desired housing. Ezgi Bas, a first-year computer science and mathematics combined major, said the possibility of getting a bad selection number might motivate her to move off-campus.

“It also depends on my selection numbers. With the possibility of getting a bad selection number, I might go off-campus,” Bas said.

Even for students taking classes, many choose to live off-campus after their second year at Northeastern.

“I am sure I will be living off-campus for my third and fourth year at Northeastern. My friends and I have always talked about getting an apartment together because we don’t have to worry about not getting the housing we want or being separated,” said Elizabeth Mashini, a first-year health science and business administration combined major.

Despite wanting to live off-campus, Mashini believes that Northeastern should still guarantee upperclassman housing. Guaranteed housing provides more security to students, as renting an apartment as a college student can be difficult.

“I have never rented a place by myself or with other people, [I] foresee potential conflicts that might arise from the process. For many students who do not want to deal with that, it is important for the school to provide them a place to stay during their third and fourth year,” Mashini said. 

Finding off-campus housing has many obstacles, even in a busy and populated city like Boston. The city’s housing shortages are a continual problem, and students’ lack of experience in renting apartments presents further issues. 

“If housing is not offered at all for upperclassmen, I certainly foresee there being a housing shortage in the neighborhoods surrounding campus, like Mission Hill, Roxbury and Symphony,” Gudin said. “If people can’t find a place to live, that would severely affect their ability to attend classes.”

Renting apartments in Boston can be costly, creating financial disparities between students. 

“Not guaranteeing housing subjects students to face Boston rents and perhaps not getting the subsidized rates they were used to on-campus. Undoubtedly, some people cannot afford that, and it might negatively affect their overall experience at Northeastern and their quality of life,” Gudin said.

Each year, on top of the stressful college application, prospective students now have more to consider. Mashini voiced her concerns for future applicants.

“Guaranteed housing relieved a lot of stress for me because I don’t have to worry about my living situation while I am in Boston,” Mashini said. “However, if I was told as an applicant that housing might not be guaranteed after my first two years, there is more to think about and to consider when choosing the school I want to go to.”

In Gudin’s case, Northeastern’s housing situation did not influence her admission decision.

“Personally, I did not take on-campus housing policies into consideration when deciding on what school to attend, as that seemed like a distant concern. I love it at Northeastern and cannot envision myself anywhere else, but do wish I did more research on what my living situation would be like throughout college,” Gudin said.

To combat this situation, Northeastern is prioritizing expansion of its community and finding more living areas for the students. 

“To provide more on-campus housing for undergraduates, the university is currently seeking approval from the City of Boston for a new 800-bed residence hall at 840 Columbus Avenue,” Nargi wrote.

Northeastern administration has also recently gained approval from the Boston Planning and Development Agency to add a total of 900 additional beds in the East Village and International Village residence halls. 

One of the reasons for housing shortages is over-enrollment. For the past years, Northeastern has constantly been expanding its campus, but not all students are content with this solution.

“Northeastern expanding on [its] housing means one of two things — gentrifying Roxbury even more [and] cramping up the apartments with forced doubles and triples for freshmen this year,” Bas said. “Northeastern knows how much space they have, and they have been admitting students for decades. They should be able to guess how many people they need to admit.”

Housing issues are apparent at Northeastern, and students are not entirely satisfied with the resolution.

“Northeastern needs to find a better way to resolve their housing situation. Gentrifying the area and buying new buildings has its limits,” Mashini said. “Future students now have to make sure that they will have a place to stay on top of all the schoolwork they will be doing. Making the housing available but not guaranteed is not a promising answer.”