MSU will require students to live on campus for two years

The Detroit News

Michigan State University announced Tuesday that students will be required to live on campus during their first two years at the school.

They’re currently required to do so for one year.

The longer requirement, which goes into effect in fall 2021, will improve students’ chances of graduating, said the school.

Students who enroll at Michigan State University in fall 2021 or later will be required to live on campus for two years.

Studies by the school's Office of Institutional Research found that students who lived on campus for two years had a graduation rate 2.5% higher than students who did so for one year, MSU said in a press release.

For “underserved groups,” the graduation difference was nearly 10%, according to the release.

“Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we, as an institution, act in ways that support our students and their success at Michigan State,” said Vennie Gore, MSU senior vice president for auxiliary enterprises.

It wasn’t clear why the school made the announcement now, during a pandemic.

A spokeswoman for MSU said the school had been mulling the move for several years. It had planned to announce it earlier in the spring but the pandemic pushed it back.

“We have analyzed both national studies regarding on-campus living. . .and also data related to MSU,” said the spokeswoman, Emily Guerrant.

MSU had required the two-year commitment in the 1980s but has waived the rule since then.

During the past decade, the school said it has implemented several programs to help students while they live on campus.

The school Division of Residential and Hospitality Services developed Spartan Compass for first-year students and Spartan Navigator for second-year students. Navigator has been delayed because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Those programs and others encourage students to take on 15 credits or more a semester and increase students’ access to academic resources.

“I look forward to refining and expanding our efforts with first- and second-year students to support their Spartan success,” said Ray Gasser, executive director of MSU residence education and housing services.

The initiatives have helped improved MSU's graduation rate from 77% to 81% over the past five years, said the school.

MSU said the first two years of college are critical for students’ success in allowing them to build momentum in their matriculation.

Living on campus helps students by improving their access to resources and activities that improve their college experience, MSU said.

Over the last several years, the school has noticed a drop in the number of students choosing to live on campus for a second year.

The proportion of students remaining on campus a second year decreased from 55% in 2011 to 45% in 2017.

Housing policies vary among other Michigan public universities.

The University of Michigan, for instance, does not require students to live on campus in any year, though about 97% of freshmen do, according to the school.

Central Michigan University requires students to live on campus their first two years, and Eastern Michigan University requires freshmen whose parents live 50 or more miles from campus to live in a dorm.