College campus

SUNY Adirondack students walk on campus. (Derek Pruitt -- file photo)

QUEENSBURY — SUNY Adirondack’s dormitory has vacancies, unlike two other community college housing units in the area that are full and have students on waiting lists.

The 400-bed dormitory opened last fall with about 380 students. That dropped to 360 by the end of the semester through attrition. Only 325 students are living in the dorm for the spring semester, which means it is almost 20 percent empty.

By contrast, Schenectady County Community College opened its 264-bed facility in fall 2012 with 214 students. Every semester since, it has been at 100 percent capacity and, since last fall, it has had a waiting list, according to the college’s board of trustees chairwoman, Denise Murphy McGraw.

Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s 294-bed dorm also opened in fall 2012 and has been full since, according to Laura LaPorte, associate dean for enrollment management.

“We traditionally have a waiting list of 20 to 30 students each semester,” she said.

To accommodate the growing number of international students, LaPorte said the college partnered with the Microtel Inn in Johnston last fall to house another 50 students. Demand has been so great, college officials last November announced the FM Global Village, which is a multiphase residential, retail and office planned unit development that would have 150 new units of housing targeted at international students.

SUNY Adirondack officials have just begun the process of learning more from the students who left after the fall semester, according to Brian Durant, vice president for academic and student affairs. Residence life staff are conducting exit interviews.

College officials previously said the dorm experienced turnover, with 66 new students coming into the residence hall. Students may have moved out after transferring to another school or because they were unable to afford the housing fee, they said.

The college is marketing the dorm aggressively, sending text messages and emails to enrolled students and postcards to new students informing them of the vacancies and availability of financial aid. Students can also get $50 in a finder’s fee if they recruit another student to live in the dorm.

Overall enrollment at the college has dropped from the all-time high set last fall of 2,588 full-time and 1,642 part-time students. Preliminary data for the current semester shows the number of full-time students at 2,336 and part-time students at 1,490. But the spring enrollment of 4,230 students represents an increase over spring 2013, which had 3,652 students, according to college officials.

Community colleges have been adding residence halls to attract students from a wider market.

When students attend community colleges outside their area, their home county has to send money to the county in which the college is located. The fees are called “chargebacks.”

Hudson Valley Community College does not have student housing yet, but it is exploring the possibility, spokesman Dennis Kennedy said. In November, the college’s board of trustees voted to hire Omni Housing Development and Sequence Development to review the feasibility of housing at the former Hy Rosenblum Administration Center. The building used to house administrative offices, which were relocated on campus.

If environmentally feasible, developers would demolish the seminary and adjacent garage and create student housing on the property, according to Kennedy.

“We’re looking for them to lease the land from us and administer the student housing themselves,” he said.

College officials are targeting fall 2015 as a potential opening date.

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