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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

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Move-in day at Tenochca Hall, August 2019 Move-in day at Tenochca Hall, August 2019

Supporting SDSU Residential Students

The Residential Housing Fund provides gap funding for students who would otherwise not be afforded the transformative experience of living on campus.
By SDSU News Team

Supporting the opportunity to live on campus — and effectively improve a student’s chances for success in higher education regardless of socioeconomic status — is the focus of a renewed fund at San Diego State University that draws on philanthropic contributions for resources.   

“National studies and research conducted at SDSU reveal that students who live on campus have higher GPAs, higher retention rates, lower academic probation rates, and faster degree completion rates than students who live off campus,” said Eric Hansen, associate vice president of business operations for Business and Financial Affairs. “These findings are particularly representative of students who have historically been underrepresented.”

To that end, the Office of Housing Administration and the Residential Education Office in March 2020 introduced the Residential Housing Fund to provide on-campus housing support. It provides gap funding for low-income, first-generation, and Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) students who would otherwise not be afforded the transformative and rewarding experience of living on campus.

An earlier version of the fund supported students with financial needs through proceeds from vending and laundry machines located in the residential communities. To increase its reach and impact, it was overhauled as a scholarship fund supported by philanthropic gifts at all levels.

“The primary goals of the Residential Housing Fund are to address the basic needs of our low-income students impacted by housing and food insecurity, support their academic success and outcomes, and expose them to the transformational on-campus opportunities and possibilities,” said Cynthia Cervantes, executive director for the Office of Housing Administration.

With housing instability a persistent hurdle across the United States, the on-campus experience for low-income and underrepresented students has become even more unattainable without support.

“Assistance is essential to subsidize the cost of on-campus housing and meals for low-income, first-generation, and EOP students,” said Rajah Gainey, associate director of development for the Office of Housing Administration. “Due to housing and food insecurity and limited financial means, these students often commute, rely on private loans to afford living on campus, and/or worry about finding lodging and their next meal, which can contribute to avoidable psychological and academic effects.”

He added, “By reducing housing and food insecurities for our students, we ensure they have the basic needs and services to achieve their educational goals.”

Once the barriers to these basic needs are met, students have access to the academic and social benefits that the residential environment fosters and encourages, including higher rates of university engagement, access to co-curricular activities, and the unique opportunity to live and learn alongside peers.

“Former residential students have described the residence halls as environments where they had profound out of the classroom learning experiences that informed their identities, relationships, and vocational pathways for years to come,” said Hansen.
In addition to the dedicated staff members in the Office of Housing Administration and the Residential Education Office, a Residential Housing Fund Advisory group composed of SDSU employees and alumni was created to further support the objective of this fund through input and recommendations. The members of this group have personally experienced the benefits of living on campus and are committed to seeing the university’s low-income and underrepresented students succeed.

“On-campus housing exposes students to enriching residential environments that will support their growth and development, keep them on track for graduation, and prepare them for life after SDSU,” said Cervantes. “All of our students deserve this, which is exactly why we created the Residential Housing Fund.”

For more information about supporting SDSU residential students through the Residential Housing Fund, contact Rajah Gainey at or 619-594-8202.