America’s Top 15 College Housing Capitals

By    March 31, 2014

University of Rochester dorm

On college and university campuses, opportunities abound to make friends, join student organizations and discover new hangouts while also cramming for exams and finishing final reports.

Dorms, or residence halls as they’re officially known, can enrich this experience. In addition to being convenient, they provide a structured living environment for students in transition, such as freshmen living away from home for the first time, said Lydia Batchelor, chair of the National Association of College and University Residence Halls. Many residence halls offer special programs to ease students through such transitions, Batchelor said.

Western New England University

Western New England University in Springfield, MA

College Housing Capitals
Now that spring has arrived, fond memories of moving into dorms have mostly faded. Students now are focused first on getting ready for finals and then on moving out of the dorms (an ideal time to look for storage space), although a few still may be reminiscing about their awesome spring breaks.

Some areas of the country are massive beehives of activity when it comes to moving into and moving out of dorms. Those areas are our Top 15 College Housing Capitals, which we ranked solely by the share of the total population between ages 15 and 24 living in on-campus housing. We analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data for the 100 most populated metro areas and focused on undergraduate students. In a few cases, a top-ranked area had one or two super-sized universities, but in most cases, an area had several moderately sized schools.

Here are the metro areas that topped our list:

  1. Springfield, MA
  2. Syracuse, NY
  3. Albany, NY
  4. Greenville, SC
  5. Providence, RI
  6. Boston, MA
  7. Hartford, CT
  8. Rochester, NY
  9. New Haven, CT
  10. Provo, UT
  11. Worcester, MA
  12. Dayton, OH
  13. Greensboro, NC
  14. Toledo, OH
  15. Madison, WI

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA

Dorm Domination
The Springfield area is home to more than 63,000 undergraduate students, according to the Census Bureau, and about 40 percent of them live in residence halls. All of those students have a huge effect on the local economy, said Ann Burke, vice president of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. Many of the universities in the area have studied student spending and found that each student who lives on campus still spends about $2,500 a year in the region. That’s on top of tuition and room and board.

In fact, Western New England University in Springfield estimates that its 4,000 students spend more than $14.5 million a year on food, entertainment, transportation, books and other supplies, Burke said.

Education is just one part of the area’s economy, but it’s a significant part, she said.

“For example, Amherst College is in a relatively small town that has a sizeable university as well as other colleges within its borders. It’s an area with close to 30,000 students just in that community,” Burke said. “Those students are very impactful.”

That impact stretches across western Massachusetts and south into Connecticut, Burke said. She noted that our sixth-ranked town, Hartford, CT, is just 30 minutes south of Springfield. The region, home to more than 120,000 students, is known as the Knowledge Corridor.

1. Springfield, MA

UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Local colleges and universities: Smith College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Total population: 692,942
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 3.7 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 32.3 percent

2. Syracuse, NY

Syracuse University

Syracuse University

Local colleges and universities: Syracuse University, Colgate University, Le Moyne College, State University of New York at Oswego, Morrisville State College
Total population: 662,577
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 2.8 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 26.9 percent

3. Albany, NY

University at Albany

University at Albany

Local colleges and universities: University at Albany, Union College, Sage College of Albany, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Russell Sage College
Total population: 870,716
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 2.3 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 24.3 percent

4. Greenville, SC

Clemson University

Clemson University

Local colleges and universities: University of South Carolina School of Medicine, South Carolina State University, Clemson University, Furman University
Total population: 636,986
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 2.2 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 22 percent

5. Providence, RI

Brown University

Brown University

Local colleges and universities: Brown University, Rhode Island College, Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson & Wales University
Total population: 1,600,852
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 2 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 21 percent

6. Boston, MA

Harvard University

Harvard University

Local colleges and universities: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College, Boston University, Tufts University
Total population: 4,552,402
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.9 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 21.7 percent

7. Hartford, CT

University of Hartford

University of Hartford

Local colleges and universities: Trinity College, University of Hartford, University of Saint Joseph, Central Connecticut State University, Charter Oak State College
Total population: 1,212,381
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.8 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 21.5 percent

8. Rochester, NY

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology

Local colleges and universities: University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, State University of New York at Brockport, State University of New York at Geneseo
Total population: 1,054,323
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.79 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 18.8 percent

9. New Haven, CT

Yale University

Yale University

Local colleges and universities: Yale University, Southern Connecticut State University, Albertus Magnus College, University of New Haven, Quinnipiac University
Total population: 862,477
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.6 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 18.9 percent

10. Provo, UT

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University

Local colleges and universities: Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University
Total population: 526,810
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.5 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 11.5 percent

11. Worcester, MA

Holy Cross

College of the Holy Cross

Local colleges and universities: College of the Holy Cross, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Clark University
Total population: 798,552
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.49 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 17.8 percent

12. Dayton, OH

University of Dayton

University of Dayton

Local colleges and universities: University of Dayton, Wright State University, Central State University, Wilberforce University
Total population: 841,502
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.4 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 16.3 percent

13. Greensboro, NC

Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University

Local colleges and universities: Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem State University, Bennett College
Total population: 723,801
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.33 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 14.6 percent

14. Toledo, OH

University of Toledo

University of Toledo

Local colleges and universities: University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Lourdes University
Total population: 651,429
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.329 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 13.2 percent

15. Madison, WI

University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Local colleges and universities: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Edgewood College
Total population: 568,593
Percentage of residents who are undergraduate students living in campus housing: 1.328 percent
Share of the college-age population living in college housing: 12.9 percent

Top photo courtesy of the University of Rochester; all other photos courtesy of the respective schools

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