Stanford Today Edition: January/February, 1998 Section: News on Campus: Graduate Student Housing Crunch WWW: Graduate Student Housing Crunch
News on Campus
One of the more startling findings was that several students were considering taking a second job, taking out a loan or taking a leave of absence for a quarter to raise money to meet their cost of living. The survey also showed that students sometimes have to search for months to find housing, and that they wind up having to pay anywhere from 50 to 150 percent of their incomes on rent.
David Aaron Krieger, a fourth-year graduate student in the applied physics department, no longer encourages prospective students to come. "I'll advise friends to go somewhere else, since a lot of their free time and money will go toward housing," he says. Krieger was denied housing for the fall after having lived on campus for three years, a different place each year. Now he shares an apartment with a friend and commutes to campus on his bicycle. Not only has the move been expensive, Krieger says, but "I don't live near my colleagues or many of my friends so it is much harder to meet people for dinner or tohang out. I spend over an hour a day commuting, time that could be spent studying."
The university can accommodate about 9,200 students in campus housing, which includes about 92 percent of its undergraduates and 46 percent of its graduate students. Although a record number of graduates who wanted to live on campus was turned down this year, according to Keith Guy, director of housing and dining services, Stanford was able to meet its housing policy of guaranteeing housing units for all first-year graduate students and students with children who have been at Stanford four years or fewer. Last May, 3,884 graduate students entered the housing lottery compared to 3,143 the previous year. A total of 591 remained unhoused after a second round of assignments was held in July, more than double the number of students who remained unhoused after the same lottery in 1996.
The average rent in Palo Alto has gone up 33 percent in the last three years, with a 20 percent increase in the last year. One-bedroom apartments in the Palo Alto area rent for between $900 and $1,200.
Considering that the average graduate student stipend is between $1,200 and $1,600, this is a flat-out impossibility for most students, says Goldberry Long, a second-year Stegner Fellow in creative writing who is a member of the Graduate Student Council. To make matters worse, the occupancy rate in the area is close to 100 percent.
In the past, students who wanted to live close to campus could find cheaper housing in East Palo Alto, Long says. But now, rents have increased there too. "Of the ten students in my class, only three of us live in the immediate area. The other seven live in San Francisco, which had more available housing at a cheaper rate," says Long.
In recent months, faculty members have voiced concern that the soaring rental and housing prices in Silicon Valley will begin to drive prospective graduate students away from Stanford.
"There is a sense among a lot of faculty that we are losing some of the graduate students whom we would really like to come because they look at the cost of living here," said Tom Wasow, associate dean of graduate policy and a member of the task force in charge of making recommendations to tackle the housing crunch. "Everybody in the administration is aware of the crisis character of this situation," said Wasow, "It is something that we are very concerned about and we are trying to formulate plans to alleviate it."
Some solutions being explored by the group include building more graduate housing on campus, buying or leasing property off campus to rent or sublet to students, increasing graduate student stipends and reviewing current graduate student housing assignment policies.
- Marisa Cigarroa