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June 4, 2003

Beginning in fall 2004, the 3 percent to 5 percent of Baylor freshmen who previously have not lived on campus will be required to join their classmates in campus residential facilities.
The University announced the housing change in spring 2003, wanting to give prospective students and their families adequate time to be informed of the new requirement, said Dr. Frank Shushok, associate dean for Campus Living and Learning.
Baylor has not had a housing requirement since the mid-1970s, when freshman women were required to live on campus, Dr. Shushok said. Although most freshmen do so, those who don't are less likely to return for their sophomore year, according to Baylor's research.
"Last year, we had a retention rate between the first and second years of 86 percent to 90 percent of those who lived on campus," Dr. Shushok said. "Of those who lived off campus their freshman year, that retention rate dropped to 74.5 percent."
That information corroborates national research conducted at private and public colleges, which shows that students living on campus for at least one year are 44 percent more likely to return to college for their second year, Dr. Shushok said.
"There is something about living on campus that connects students to the community and to the institution. Research shows that it even affects the degree to which alumni stay connected to their university," he said.
Those who do not stay in campus residential facilities their freshman year primarily are local students who live at home, usually for financial reasons -- the most often-cited reason for not living on campus. Average annual room and board costs at Baylor in 2002 were $6,000. Although sensitive to the financial concern, Dr. Shushok said the benefits of all freshmen living on campus are too strong to ignore.
"The data is compelling enough to say that living in a residential center for a year is tantamount to taking a required course. It adds something substantial to the entire educational experience," he said.
Cliff Neel, assistant vice president and director of academic scholarships and financial aid, said there are several options available for financial assistance, including federal and state grants, institutional need-based scholarships, federal work-study and low-interest loans. Families also have the option of making four monthly payments in an installment plan, he said. 
Printed information about the housing policy change was distributed at the spring Premiere event, held for prospective students and families, and is included in the University's new viewbook and housing application forms.
"Campus Living and Learning has done their research on this," said Diana Ramey, assistant vice president for enrollment management. "The advantages are developing a community of learners living together who have a strong connection to Baylor, which should improve retention rates."