Student Housing Owners Look Forward to the Fall Semester

Despite some campuses announcing plans for fully online classes in the fall, demand for off campus student housing remains robust.

When the new academic year begins in later this summer, with a few exceptions, most of the 482,000 students at the 23 campuses that comprise the California State University (CSU) system will be learning remotely. That’s the highest profile example in the current debate among universities as to how handle the fall semester.

CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White’s announcement on May 12 sent shock waves through the student housing business, which so far has survived the crisis caused by the coronavirus without major loses.

But overall, the CSU system seems to be an exception, with many other university systems announcing plans for the full or partial return of students. According to data compiled from 850 universities by the Chronicle of Higher Education, two-thirds of American universities have announced plans for students to return.

“By and large, most schools appear to be on track to re-open for Fall 2020,” says Carl Whitaker, senior manager of market analytics for RealPage, Inc.

Only 7 percent are planning online. Another 8 percent are proposing a hybrid model, 9 percent are waiting to decide and 10 percent are “considering a range of scenarios.”

“Online instruction [in the spring] did not go super smoothly,” says Will Baker, senior managing director of Walker & Dunlop. “It has not been popular.”

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