By Jay Roberson
Attending community college is an easy way for students to save money by getting their associate degree before transferring for their bachelor’s degree. However, most community college students do not get to experience life on campus the same way those at four-year institutions do. Luckily for Mercer County Community College students, Rider now offers them housing at a reduced rate.
Mike Reca, vice president for facilities and university operations, stated that this idea was in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but needed additional time for approval as a more solid plan was created.
“Post- pandemic, the leadership of MCCC changed and Dr. [Deborah] Preston became president. Her and President [Gregory] Dell’Omo had a conversation and said, ‘Can we approve this again in a more formal way?’” Reca said.
MCCC students are given two choices for housing: a standard double for $4,250 per semester or a double as a single for $5,000 per semester. With this, they can request a roommate and add on an optional meal plan, which is recommended by Rider.
“It gives MCCC students a taste of what it’s like to live on campus,” said Reca. “So there’s a lot of benefits that come out of being a part of a community having a shared community with MCCC.”
Erica Oliver, executive director of communications and marketing at MCCC, explained that this new partnership regarding housing would benefit students who do not live close to the college.
“We have some unique programs at MCCC and there’s degree programs that aren’t necessarily offered around the state for two-year programs,” said Oliver. “For example, our aviation site technology program, which is the only two-year AABI [Aviation Accreditation Board International] accredited aviation degree program in the nation.”
These unique programs draw in students from all over the country, but leave them with no options for housing. Collaboration with Rider gives these students the opportunity to attend college without worrying about their housing situation.
Some additional benefits that MCCC students gain from housing at Rider include access to campus resources, such as the Moore Library and Daly Dining Hall and reduced housing rates if the student decides to transfer to Rider.
Many students attend MCCC for its athletics programs, and Rider Athletics can benefit from these students transferring after their two years at the college.
“We have some really great athletic programs,” said Oliver. “We have nine sports programs including soccer, softball, lacrosse.”
Since the pandemic, Rider has been trying to steadily increase its number of residents on campus. This initiative was the perfect way to increase housing revenue.
In a summer webinar, Dell’Omo stated, “We’ve done a number of things to try to fill more beds … We’ve even started a new housing partnership, the first in the state of New Jersey, which offers Mercer County Community College students the ability to live on campus.”
As higher education changes, Reca explained that collaboration between colleges is important and may become the new normal.
“We’re getting some additional revenue from dining plans and filling some beds that may not have normally been filled, getting exposure and it’s a nice relationship,” said Reca. “We’re so close to each other with the two colleges collaborating, I think that’s the way higher ed[ucation] is going.”