Just outside Freudenbuerger House — aka, Freddy Hall — on the Missouri State University Springfield campus. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

On April 19, Missouri State University leaders approved increases to tuition and almost all student fees next school year, citing persistent inflation and a need to offer competitive wages to MSU employees. Only one fee, the undergraduate application for international students, dropped in price, from $50 to $40. 

However, there is a cost-cutting effort in the works the university’s director of residence life says could address enrollment issues while filling spaces in two of the university’s older dormitories left vacant by college students who’ve gravitated toward apartment living.

Next year, Missouri State University is planning to drop the price for upper class students to live privately in either the Freudenberger House or Wells House. Currently, students have to pay an extra $1,591 per semester on top of standard housing rates to get a dorm room to themselves. Earlier this semester, qualifying students received a notice that the price will be nearly cut in half, to $800 per semester. 

The current total cost to live alone in a two-person room in either of the Wells or Freddy dorms is $4,785 for a semester or $9,570 for the year. To live with a roommate in the one-room, two-desk, bunkable-beds-style college housing of yore currently runs $3,194 for a semester or $6,388 for the year. 

Housing fees haven’t been finalized for the upcoming school year but language recently approved by the MSU Board of Governors Executive Committee states that the combined room and board blended increase on all residence halls will not exceed 6 percent. 

Teresa Frederick, MSU’s director of residence life, housing and dining services, said the price cuts to living alone in either the Freddy, as the Freudenberger is often called, or Wells are based in part on student preference. They’re also based on an effort to best help returning students reach graduation. She said the university has 20-plus years of internal data showing students who live on campus perform better academically, drop out less and graduate more compared to those students living off-campus. 

“You’re close to campus resources,” Frederick said. “You have the ability to connect with others that are living in that area with you. And you’re more likely to engage with campus events because you’re right here in the middle of it. And we know that engagement leads to student success and retention, and so there’s that benefit.”

Plus, she said, there’s an added benefit of easing the transition to living on your own that comes with campus housing and its associated meal and parking plans. Where you park, what you eat and how close your bedside alarm clock is to your first class of the day — “It’s all taken care of in one package,” she said. 

YouTube video
Virtual tour of Freudenberger House by Missouri State University Residence Life

Today’s college students are also more drawn than ever to apartment-style living, she noted. Recent research commissioned by a nonprofit organization that supports apartment industry business interests states that building student housing that offers double occupancy or other shared types of living spaces is cheaper to build, but is being built less and less often. Only 4 percent of student housing built in the U.S. in the past decade was double occupancy, according to a 2021 white paper.

Frederick said MSU only has so many apartment-style housing options to offer.

“So what is something different we can do?” she said. “One of those ways is to find a more affordable way for students to have private space, and so that’s why we pursued this option with Freddy and Wells.”

For the university to break even on the incentive, 32 more returning students would have to opt for private rooms in Freddy or Wells, according to a December 2022 MSU Board of Governors Programs and Planning Committee document. There is definitely space to spread out. According to the document, there are up to 200 additional private spaces available alone in the 1959-built Freddy.

Frederick said the 2022 opening of the Heitz House, a modern-style double-occupancy building with private bathrooms and garage parking, recently spread out the on-campus student base even more. At a time when the university is looking to address declining enrollment, Frederick said offering discounts on private living at the housing that students weren’t filling was a worthwhile option to pursue.

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson