Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU welcomes one of largest freshman classes in history amid housing shortage

This fall, FAU brought aboard one of its largest freshman classes in school history, while also not being able to guarantee adequate housing.
Nicholas Windfelder
Photo of students walking in the Breezeway.

Emmy Severson didn’t have her heart set on going to FAU.

The 18-year-old biology major wanted to stay in Florida for college. But she didn’t go to school in northern Florida because it was a bit too far, and she didn’t like the University of Central Florida in her hometown of Orlando; it was too big. When she toured FAU, it felt like the place for her.

“I toured FAU, and it was close to the beach which is nice. I know people that go here and I know people that live down here so it’s super homey,” said Severson. “I don’t know, I just liked it.”

Severson is now one of the 5,500+ students welcomed in its fall 2023 freshman class—a July 31 public records request obtained by the University Press listed the freshman class at 5,445 students, but a more recent request tallies the class at 5,558 students, bringing the total undergraduate population to 23,853. 

This comes a year after the university brought aboard 5,231 students, according to a public records request, in its fall 2022 freshman class. 

But after hundreds of students were left to fend for themselves when the university made public a severe housing shortage in February, many around the campus were left wondering if continuously cramming in as many students as possible is properly advised. 

College enrollment rates in the United States have declined slowly since 2010, according to statistics from The National Center for Educational Statistics; a trend that only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic as students were forced to stay home. 

Even amidst declining enrollments nationwide over the past decade, FAU has been able to keep their own fairly steady. 

FAU’s spring 2023 Diversity Data Report shows the university’s total enrollment, including graduate students, has decreased about 2% since 2017, while the rest of the country is experiencing about a 14% decrease. The public records request obtained by the UP, shows a 3.9% increase in undergraduate enrollment in the 2022-2023 academic year.

“FAU is doing a lot better than the national averages,” said Ying Liu, Assistant Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Analysis. “Extraordinarily well compared to other institutions.”

However, as reassuring as it is that FAU is able to weather plummeting enrollment rates, it’s equally as concerning that students continue to flood in without adequate space to house them. 

Sophomore biology major Rory MacGregor was one of the many students affected by the on-campus housing shortage, and forced to look off campus in an equally crowded housing market.

“I figured since I was applying for it relatively early, I would be able to get housing. That was not the case. So I [got] waitlisted. And I waited, and waited, and continued to wait,” said MacGregor. “This was until about late November and early December when I finally got a response.”

MacGregor was one of the many students that applied for on-campus housing and were left waiting for a response from the university, only to be notified months after the application window had come and gone that there wasn’t adequate space for them. 

However, the 19-year old biology major considers himself to be one of the lucky ones. Without a car, MacGregor was forced not only to look for a home within his price range, but also within reasonable walking distance to campus; a tall task when you’re one of many scrambling.

“By that point we had already figured I wasn’t going to be able to get housing, so I had gotten an apartment that’s only about a 20 minute walk,” said MacGregor. “But I don’t know the financial situation of everybody else. They might not have been able to do that.”

For those who were able to secure housing on-campus, the relief of knowing they’ll have a place to live may soon fade to panic when they have to do the same process all over again.

“I try not to think about it because right now I do have housing,” said Severson, who was able to find a spot in FAU’s freshman dorms. “But next year… I don’t know.”

Cameron Priester is the Editor-at-large for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron.

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About the Contributors
Cameron Priester
Cameron Priester, Editor-at-Large
Cameron Priester is an Editor-at-Large for the University Press. Having served as Sports Editor for the 2022-23 academic year, he is a multimedia journalism major and intends on pursuing a career in sports journalism. He can be found on Twitter @PriesterCameron and you can email him at [email protected].
Nicholas Windfelder
Nicholas Windfelder, Lead Photographer
Nicholas Windfelder is the lead photographer for University Press. He began his work in the spring of 2022 and became lead photographer in the following fall semester. While being a mechanical engineering major, his greatest hobby is photography and hopes to build himself as a photographer as well. You can contact him via Instagram or email. View Nick's work below, on Instagram, or his online portfolio. Disclaimer: Unauthorized reproduction, sale, or modifications of the images below, or within the associated articles, galleries, or links, are strictly prohibited. All images are copyright protected. For requested use of the images below, please contact Nicholas Windfelder via email or message @UPressOnline on Instagram.

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