Ohio State Sophomores in Dorms - Numbers and Analysis

The president of The Ohio State University Gorden Gee wants OSU sophomores to live in university-owned and managed dormitories by fall 2016. Gee says: “It’s about providing the best quality education to students by taking a bold step that no one else is making.” Some critics say Ohio State is trying to capture more of the student residential housing market. I will point out that OSU just sold the management of its parking facilities. As Gee has said, he wants to be in the business of education -- not parking, and likely not dormitories. This post will not try to speculate, but instead look at the facts surrounding this decision and try to conclude what impact this will have on private off-campus housing. As I read recently "If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine."

 The facts:
  • Number of Dormitories: 31 (South, North and West)
  • Current OSU undergraduate housing beds (Not including the current south campus expansion or planned north campus expansion): 9,936
  • Demolished beds: 675
  • Beds being added: 3,200 (North Campus) 3,000 (South Campus)
  • Beds after all construction: 6,359 (North Campus) 9,102 (South and West Campus) = 15,461 Total
  • Enrollment (Fall 2011) Columbus Campus: 56,867 (6904 Freshman + 9700 Sophomores = 16,604)
  • Enrollment (Fall 2001) Columbus Campus: 48,477
  • Annual Growth Rate of Columbus Campus Enrollment Past 10 Years: Approx 1.8%
  • Anticipated Columbus Campus Enrollment by 2016: 17,517 (Freshman and Sophomores) 59,993 (Total)


By 2016, there will be 17,517 freshman and sophomores at OSU. With only 15,461 beds available by this time (Assuming the almost 400 million dollar north campus expansion can be completed by then, which is unlikely based on our construction experience) then 2,056 freshman and sophomore students will not have a bed available on campus. This may actually be by design as I am sure OSU expects some students to simply not be able to comply with the new rule. Also by this time, there will be an additional 2,213 students at the Columbus campus. All this does not take into account the more-than-normal increase in enrollment OSU could accommodate with the potential unused housing stock off campus. The maximum number of un-rented beds off campus in 2016 is then as follows:

3,200 + 3,000 - 2,056 - 2,213 - 675 = 1,256 beds.

Gee - "There are some places that I would not allow people to live if I were absolutely in charge. The good landlords are going to thrive. Those who should be squeezed out should be squeezed out, and they will be," he said. "And we have a lot of quality landlords that do a wonderful job and we need to support them and we will."

Final thoughts: 1,256 beds is not that significant when you look at the total number of "beds" available in the "off-campus housing". As Gee alluded to, a majority, if not all of the landlords who provide quality housing will have no problem filling their rentals.  Some landlords on campus having been crying wolf -- especially those who own multi-million dollar Florida beach houses paid for by deferred maintenance and price gouging.

As a graduate of Ohio State, I will say that I wish I had lived in the dorms my sophomore year rather than living off campus. On the flip side of this regret, living off campus allowed me (probably like many other students) to have a conveniently parked car with which I made a fair bit of money at a part time job.

Worst case, the nicely located off-campus houses will be filled by non-OSU students looking for the campus experience previously unavailable to them (due to the previous demand). In summary, we do not anticipate a significant decrease (if any) in the demand for quality - well priced off-campus housing.