Tuesday, September 4, 2007

JSU students increasingly choosing to live off-campus

Jacksonville State student Ashley Brown stands in front of her home that she and her roommates own in Jacksonville. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

As JSU students began the new school year only a fraction moved into dorms, the stereotypical back-to-college scenario.

JSU has about 9,000 students and 1,600 on-campus beds, roughly 96 percent of which were occupied last year, according to Rochelle Smith, assistant director of JSU's housing office.

So a far greater number of the students move at the start of each year into apartments and houses in Jacksonville, becoming the nine-month neighbors of Jacksonville's permanent residents.

The number of apartments under construction in Jacksonville has increased each year in the past several years. Just more than 30 apartments per year were built in the city in 2005 and 2006. More than 200 have been built this year, 192 of those at The Grove, an apartment complex geared toward JSU students.

Many students who live off-campus are renters, but some live in houses their parents have purchased. Area real estate agents say parents often look at the purchase of a home for a child attending JSU as an investment.

"You make more money really investing in real estate than just about anything else right now," said Amy Angel, an agent with Billy Isom Real Estate in Jacksonville. Parents often purchase a house for a child's freshman year and sell it once the student graduates, she said.

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