- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa and Iowa State University are rushing to build more dormitories as high enrollment drives a soaring demand for student housing.

Documents from the Iowa Board of Regents show Iowa State is seeking approval to build an estimated $50 million residence hall project to house 700 students, The Des Moines Register reports (https://dmreg.co/LQaJue ). The school last built a dorm in 2004.

Construction in Iowa City continues for a $53 million residence hall project for 500 students. The West Campus Residence Hall is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015 and is the university’s first new dorm in more than 40 years.

The Regents will meet Thursday to sell more than $27 million in bonds to complete the new UI dorm. They will also discuss the ISU project.

ISU had a record 33,241 students last fall, an enrollment jump of 25 percent over seven years. Last fall, upperclassmen were offered a $1,000 incentive to leave the dorms and move into on-campus apartments.

At UI, there were 31,065 students enrolled in September. That’s marks the seventh year the school has had more than 30,000 students. Undergraduate enrollment at both schools is projected to increase between 5 and 7 percent over the next decade.

The universities have spent millions to lease off-campus apartment buildings due to the boom in enrollment. Iowa is currently renting four such properties this school year for $2.5 million. Iowa State is renting several buildings this school year for $2.7 million, and they’re seeking approval for more. They’re also expanding an on-campus apartment complex.

Universities prefer to have freshman students on campus because studies show they’re more likely to graduate.

“There’s an advantage to being on campus,” said Peter Englin, director of the Department of Residence at ISU. “It helps academically.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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