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Recent developments involving Coastal Ridge Real Estate at Florida Poly have left many students without housing for the upcoming 2022 fall semester. A decision to prioritize new students over returning residents has left some students without housing for the upcoming 2022 fall semester, as many have had their leases unexpectedly canceled during renewal.

Florida Poly’s remote location, combined with its ambitious goals to be the top engineering college in Florida, has shaped a unique housing situation. Many students from all across Florida, the country, and even the world are attracted to the University. This means a significant number of students are not local enough to easily commute to the school on a daily basis. They rely on housing solutions, either on or off campus, to be able to attend. Florida Poly no longer requires professors to have online-only or hybrid courses, so for students unable to secure on or off campus housing, attending online is not an available option. When housing is threatened, many students’ educations are thrown into jeopardy. Graham, a senior student looking to graduate in the incoming fall semester, said:

“If it’s not for living on or off campus, I wouldn’t be able to attend Poly at all… My family lives about… 160 miles southeast of Lakeland in Palm Beach County.”

Graham, Senior at Florida Poly

When asked, Melia, a sophomore student, said her ability to attend Florida Poly had not been affected, but did say:

“My ability to attend hasn’t really been affected. I’m kind of homeless right now, but whether I want to or not – I’ll sleep in my car if I have to – I’m still going to be going here.”

Melia, Sophomore at Florida Poly

While similar issues have occurred in the past with Florida Poly’s dorms, they were not to this scale; at least 150 students have been put on a waitlist to receive a lease with the on-campus dorms. Isaac, a freshman at Florida Poly, described how they found out.

“I was sent an email saying, one, my lease was voided, and two, in the same email, all floor plans, they’re all gone at the same time.”

Isaac, Sophomore at Florida Poly

Previous years’ returning students had months to sign their lease. But this year, students were allotted a 14-day, first-come-first-serve signing period to review with their guarantor. Melia was one of many students effectively given three days.

“So it was Tuesday that I got my lease. On Wednesday, I went to the leasing office and was told, you’re probably going to want to sign your lease because we’ve already signed over 100 in a day and there are only 77 left. And that was literally a day later. Friday morning, I got an email. It’s like, hey, the lease that we sent out has been voided. You’ve been placed on a wait list. All the 4/2’s that are available to be leased out have been sold out.”

Melia, Sophomore at Florida Poly

Chaotic as the situation is, most students and administration set out looking to solve the problem. The first thing many look at is off-campus living – but many off-campus living options get snatched up quickly, with the only available housing often 30 or more minutes away. Even the University itself, in past attempts to alleviate the increasing gap between population and capacity, was unable to find availability.

Trustee Ashby inquired if the University has considered leasing apartments from nearby communities. Dr. Parker responded Florida Poly did reach out this fall and there was extremely limited availability.

Academic and Student Affairs Committee Board Meeting, February 9th, 2022
A screenshot from Apartments.com showing availability of nearby apartments.

On February 11th, the University responded to student backlash over the canceled leases by creating the Off Campus Living Office. The office’s goal is to assist students in connecting with roommates and finding leases in the surrounding area. However, students aren’t confident that the office will be helpful, in part due to its infancy and in part due to its relative inaccessibility.

“Is it difficult to use the off campus housing office? Yes. And I’d say it’s deliberately made hard to use.”

Isaac, Sophomore at Florida Poly

For students who rely on Florida Prepaid or Federal Student Aid to pay for housing and meals, moving off campus is a burden already. Requesting the money to be used off campus is a long process and a significant factor for students to decide if they choose to stay on campus. By forcing students to leave, some will have to fast track a delicate process that determines if they can afford college at all.

“We will have… students who are displaced, who don’t have a place to live, whether they’re coming in new, whether they’re existing [at Florida Poly]. So we need to find solutions for them, or else, especially if they’re new students, they will go to a different college.”

Graham, Senior at Florida Poly

Many students feel this situation was mismanaged. Students feel disregarded and abandoned by their University, despite how much they pay and how hard they work to attend each semester. Students facing decisions that make attendance more difficult and make them feel undervalued are rethinking their trust – and their enrollment – in  Florida Poly. For Isaac, if they can’t secure housing now, pursuing a higher education at all is off the table for at least a year.

“I do not trust the school. To clarify, I do not trust the school’s administration who are in charge of creating this situation… [In the] worst case scenario, I’m done. I don’t even have other colleges to go to – their windows close too… soon. So I am out for at least a year.”

Isaac, Sophomore at Florida Poly

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