The University of Tampa announced it is taking another step to rectify an acute housing shortage for the fall semester that has many incoming students scrambling for off-campus apartments.
It is offering $2,000 to any student who volunteers to be removed from the waiting list and lives off campus during the 2021-22 academic year. Earlier this week, the university offered $3,500 per year in the form of a deferral grant for those willing to enroll starting next year instead.
The moves come after several parents took to social media lambasting the university for leaving them in a lurch. They said the school informed them of the housing crunch too late for them to make alternate college plans.
The university posted an online Q&A that directed families to off-campus housing resources, but those quickly filled and the cost was significantly more than on-campus options.
The average cost per year of room and board, including meal plans at the University of Tampa, is $11,690. One- to four-bedroom apartments at The Henry, the main downtown complex recommended on the university’s website, ranged from $1,049-$2,159 per month.
At other nearby apartment complexes, such as Nine15 or NoHo flats, one-bedroom apartments cost between $1,825 and $3,800 per month.
When Tracy Ferlito’s son received the news, she and her husband took a day off work to regroup and figure out what to do next. They called his second-choice schools, but the deadlines to commit had passed. They called The Henry, but that too had been filled.
Ferlito saw another mother post online that her son found a spot at the Marriott’s Residence Inn downtown. She called and found out that at least 16 other UT freshmen would be living there. Her son has a spot for now, but she said she worries about his freshman experience and living away from the campus.
“Part of the problem is the college did nothing to help us,” Ferlito said. “I guess my expectation was okay, they’ve got to fix it. They made the mistake, not us. I was hoping maybe they were going to rent a hotel or at least direct us in some way.”
Times staff writers Emily Mahoney and Jeff Solochek contributed to this report.