Every spring, Lehigh’s Housing Services holds a housing lottery for students who wish to live on campus for the coming school year. For the fall 2023 semester, a record number of students applied to live on campus.
To enter the housing lottery, students are required to sign a contract and register to receive a selection time. Each student is assigned an allotted time to complete their housing selection based on the spaces available.
Christina D’Aversa, associate director of residential services, said a total of 371 juniors and seniors applied to live on campus for the fall 2023 semester, which is the most the office has seen since the opening of Southside Commons.
D’Aversa said the increase in upperclassmen applications does not affect the number of spots available for underclassmen.
“For example, what we’re doing this year is going from having Trembley Park 50% open to next year being 90% open so that we can offer the juniors and seniors that wanted on-campus housing,” D’Aversa said.
D’Aversa said, with the opening of Southside Commons in 2019, Lehigh saw a significant dip in upperclassmen demand for on-campus housing because it offered them an alternative option.
After the Singleton, Hitch and Maida houses opened in 2020 — offering dormitory-style housing to sophomores and upperclassmen — she said the number of students hoping to remain on campus began increasing.
D’Aversa said the process is designed to be fair and equitable for all students in order to account for the increasing number of students who applied to live on campus.
She said proportionate amounts of each building are designated to each group size. She said 41% of each building was designated for groups of four because 41% of students signed up in groups of four.
While spaces in high-demand locations like Farrington Square fill up fast, D’Aversa said she does not foresee having to deny upperclassmen on-campus housing.
“We have never had an issue where we had more juniors and seniors signing up than we had space for,” D’Aversa said.
With constant shifts in demand, D’Aversa said there are going to be issues in terms of accommodating everyone’s dorm preferences.
Rylee Stancliffe, ‘25, resides in Farrington and was hoping to live there again next year but will now be in Trembley Park with her three other roommates.
Stancliffe said her randomly assigned lottery number ended up being lower on the list, so all of the Farrington spots designated for groups of four were taken before they could register.
“I wish I knew going into it how many four bedrooms were available in Farrington,” Stancliffe said.
Stancliffe said they are okay with what they received because Trembley has a kitchen and common area, just like the Farrington apartments. But, Trembley Park apartments have two single bedrooms and one double, which was not as ideal to Stancliffe and her housemates.
Louis Intile, managing partner of Fifth Street Properties, which rents to students living off campus, said the company has had consistent business and noticed an increase in demand recently. He said the company has maintained full occupancy every year.
When it comes to renting to students who are going abroad, Intile said he encounters difficulties.
“I still have to pay my manager, I still have to pay maintenance staff, I still have to pay for maintenance trucks, vans, equipment and gas. And you know, overhead is expensive,” Intile said.
He said, as a landlord, these things make it difficult to only rent out for six of the 12 months.
Stancliffe said she chose to live on campus her junior year because a lot of the leases were already taken by other students a year in advance.
“A lot of juniors are studying abroad,” Stancliffe said. “It’s not worth signing a lease if they’re going to be gone for half of the year.”
Another factor that has potentially impacted on-campus housing is Lehigh’s increase in first-year student enrollments. Intile said it seems Lehigh’s enrollment is outpacing its buildings.
According to Lehigh’s Office of Admissions, they saw a 21% increase in the number of applicants for the class of 2027 compared to the class of 2026.
“It seems like every year they’re (Lehigh) enrolling about another extra 100-150 underclassmen,” Intile said. “I believe they are planning another phase of the Bridge West Project to help alleviate some of the pressure and crowding.”
The Bridge West Project refers to the construction of Singleton, Hitch and Maida houses that took place between 2018-2019.
Intile said the number of students wanting to live off campus fluctuates each year.
“It’s never an exact science,” Intile said. “They’re going to try the best they can, but there may be some years where it ebbs and flows, where there’s more students than they anticipated and things get a little tight.”