Families say they’re caught off guard about housing shortage at University of Tampa

Investigations

TAMPA,Fla. (WFLA)- They got into the college of their dreams but don’t have anywhere to live. Families tell 8 On Your Side they are furious with the University of Tampa.

8 On Your Side spoke with parents from across the country in New Hampshire, New York and Delaware. They all said the same thing: They were completely blindsided by the housing shortage.

Braeden Pittman chose UT over colleges in his home state of Delaware.

“When I went down there, I fell in love with the campus,” said Braeden.

The teen says he filled out the housing questionnaire and paid his deposit on time. But just three months before the start of class, UT told notified him, it’s unlikely he’d be living on-campus.

Braeden could make his own housing arrangements or drop out of the university and get a refund.

“I’m supposed to live off-campus and not meet anybody in a new area,” said Braeden. “There’s apartments like 20 minutes away that we’re trying to get but seem[s] to be booked real fast.”

Lisa Pittman, Braeden’s mom, said the university is not doing enough to assist families.

“I cannot imagine sending my son to Tampa and saying, ‘go ahead, wing it, figure out where you’re living, how you’re going to get around campus,'” Pittman adds. “I understand they let too many kids into the school but don’t tell me you don’t have a plan to give these freshman housing.”

UT is a medium-sized private university with 12 residence halls that can house more than 4,700 students.

Donna Lewis lives in Staten Island, New York. Her son Greg is an incoming freshman at UT.

“I don’t know the area, I don’t know what’s safe, not safe,” said Donna. “They could subsidize housing, they could offer tuition credits since apartments in Tampa are very expensive compared to room and board.”

It’s unclear how many freshmen are impacted. As of Friday evening, UT has declined to answer that question.

Nicole Roy’s daugther Chloe has her heart set on attending UT and living on campus.

“I would describe my emotions as devastated for my daughter who’s devastated,” said Roy. “The school has completely just not acknowledged any wrongdoing, it’s just mind blowing.”

UT tells 8 On Your Side, this year, there was a surge of interest in the university, and demand for housing exceeded the supply so students are being put on a waitlist.

The university’s statement reads in part, “It is unlikely on-campus housing will become available for students on the waiting list.”

The university is “working diligently to provide students information about off-campus housing.”

Here’s their full statement:

“The University of Tampa is a valued destination for prospective students, and campus housing is always popular and in demand. UT has 12 residence halls – including one off-site residence hall — that are either newly-built or recently-renovated, and houses more than 4,700 students.

This year, UT received a surge of interest from incoming students to attend the University for the 2021-2022 academic year. We believe this is due to many factors, including the continued popularity of the Tampa Bay region and UT’s increased reputation. UT’s successful handling of the pandemic and a universal optimism for a return to normalcy are undoubtedly also factors. As a result of this surge of interest, student demand for on-campus housing has exceeded UT’s housing capacity, and a number of students have been placed on a housing waiting list. It is unlikely on-campus housing will become available for students on the waiting list.

UT strives to provide on-campus housing for those students who will benefit the most from the personal and community support. Similar to other selective universities, UT does not guarantee on-campus housing for any students. Housing priority is based on the date in which students submit the housing application.

Students on the waiting list have been urged to visit UT’s Off-Campus Housing website for resources, such as the Off-Campus Resource Map, which displays apartment complexes, hotels, storage facilities, etc.

UT regrets this unexpected turn of events for students and their families and is working diligently to provide students information about off-campus housing for the 2021-2022 academic year.”

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