UT should offer financial assistance for summer housing

Lucero Ponce, Associate Editor

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the June 7  flipbook.

At the end of finals, when most students are ready to go back home, some have to stay in Austin for the summer. Students stay for various reasons, such as summer classes, career opportunities and their living situation at home. However, regardless of why, many face the common issue of paying for housing in one of the least affordable cities in America. 

Not all students can afford such high housing prices when they already have to pay for other necessities and possibly tuition. Therefore, many students are tasked with finding a way to make it work.

To lessen the financial burden on students, the University should create a stipend for students who must remain in Austin over the summer and are concerned with the cost of housing. 

“I have a physics lab in the second summer session. I only have to do two days per week, so it’s just not worth (getting housing), and I can’t afford it for the summer. I’m having to go back-and-forth from Austin to San Antonio,” neuroscience junior Hansi Perera said. “If I were to stay in one place, then I’d cut down on my transportation, like gas and then also labor just driving back-and-forth. It’s just a lot of time as well. If (UT) was to help with some money, then that would obviously be a good thing.”

While UT has taken efforts to help reduce the financial burden on students, it specifically needs to address the issue of housing. 

“The University is offering summer tuition at a reduced rate and offers summer internship scholarships including the Texas Career Engagement internship fund,” said Kathleen Harrison, the assistant director of communications for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

While reducing tuition is a good start, students still have other expenses to worry about, such as food, transportation and housing. Providing scholarships for unpaid internships is a great help for certain students; however, many others are there for different reasons. There are students who are in Austin because of classes, jobs or their living situation, and they all deserve financial help. 

UT should create a stipend for summer housing, so students can receive that financial assistance as necessary and know that there is financial assistance specifically for housing.

Every student has a unique reason as to why they have to stay in Austin for the summer. Some students stay because of classes or internships, but, in other cases, students may not be able to go back home due to an insecure living situation. To these students, Austin may be their only choice for a secure home, but not many can easily afford it. The University has a responsibility to help students secure stable and affordable housing over the summer.

The University has made great progress with affordable housing by providing off-campus living resources, expanding affordable housing and funding affordable housing research, but it should directly do more for students now by providing financial assistance for summer housing.

“I know UT is trying to make great strides for affordable housing, but we just constantly need more. We need to (all work) together — students, administration, other stakeholders — to create more affordable housing,” said Leland Murphy, government senior and Student Government president. “Which then, in turn, makes the best campus possible and the highest productivity. When people’s basic needs are covered, they’re able to contribute more to making UT a super high-impact research and academic institution.”

The University has taken steps in the right direction, and it should continue making progress by helping students cover summer housing. While this proposed stipend would be a good start, the University should take responsibility to help provide more housing assistance throughout the year.

Ponce is a journalism sophomore from Laredo, Texas.