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Where accessibility and affordability meet: UTEP housing

Gianluca Cuevas
Students who live on campus have all expenses from housing included in their tuition.

Some people say a place to call home is an essential part of pursuing an education. One’s definition of home may be a comfortable bed, a place to decompress, or a place to gather with the people closest to them. Whatever it may be, home can contribute greatly to the success of a student’s education. One benefit of living on campus for undergraduate and graduate students is they can enjoy the benefits of being within walking distance to class.  

The accumulated debt from finishing an undergraduate degree leads some students to deciding to live on campus. Having to pay utilities monthly and paying off student debt can be overwhelming while finishing a graduate degree. If living at home is not a viable option and living in an apartment is too expensive, UTEP housing staff says campus living is the solution. 

Assistant director for operations in UTEP housing, Elisa Espinosa, comments that living on campus is a great opportunity to make UTEP not only a school, but a home. 

“Focus on your academics, being on campus will allow you to do that,” Espinosa says. “While building a community amongst your peers, it’s a great advantage for getting through your graduate program and getting that experience.” 

Caroline Salas, a graduate student in the engineering program, has been living on campus pursuing both her bachelor’s and masters. While Salas was born in El Paso, she was raised in Kyle, Texas. Salas says she knew UTEP was one of the only schools that offered a bachelor’s in science and engineering innovation and leadership and that’s what led her to continue her career at UTEP. She says living on campus since 2017, has given her a glimpse of what it’s like once she graduates.  

“It’s given me a lot of independence and insight on what it’s like to live alone, or you know not rely on my parents,” Salas said. “The utilities are technically paid for in my rent and I pay it all upfront in the beginning of the semester, so it’s really easy.” 

Students who live on campus have all expenses from housing included in their tuition. They have the option to either pay at the beginning of the semester or divide it monthly using Pete’s Payment Option.  

Associate Dean of Graduate School, Dr. Lucia Dura and Jesse Singleton, Assistant Director for Student Support, work with graduate students daily so they know firsthand how great housing can be for graduate students.  

“I encourage students always to look at housing as an option, particularly if finances are a concern,” Singleton said. “Again, that big price point at the start seems large, but when you divide it up per month, its roughly the same, if not smaller than most rent payments.” 

Singleton obtained his masters in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, says he lived on campus while being a graduate student. He says he found living on campus a better option for him since he was accumulating a lot of debt while in school. Singleton says being on campus allowed him to be more successful in pursuing his degree. 

“Both myself and my partner had pretty significant undergrad debt, and I wasn’t willing to take on anymore,” Singleton said. “The convenience of accessing things on campus and being close to the central hub was vital for me and my success.” 

A student should decide what is the best environment for their studies. Living at home with family may save money, the chaotic nature of the household may prevent the ability to focus on school. 

“Everyone has to look at their own specific situation, and how they’ll be most successful.” Singelton said. “Some folks, if they have family in the area, and it’s a productive place where they can study, and have their, you know, dedicated research time, they can be successful there. Other folks, they may be living in a home environment, that is more chaotic, and they need a more focused environment, and housing might be a good place for them to live.” 

When students decide to make campus housing their home, UTEP housing says they make sure those students have a comforting experience with everyday life and events.  

“You also have a built-in community, and there’s programming that happens weekly or monthly, on the hall,” Dr. Dura said. “There’s and built in support system that you know is generally safe and that you wouldn’t find in an apartment building automatically.” 

Pursuing a master’s degree is a great feat. While advancing one’s education opens many opportunities, an average amount of students can’t handle the immense sum of student debt on top of living expenses. Thanks to UTEP housing, graduate students have found comfort in knowing their college can provide a comfortable place to live. 

Sofia Sierra is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Sofia Sierra
Sofia Sierra, Web/Copy Editor
Sofia is a junior studying multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She is the web and copy editor at The Prospector. After graduation, she hopes to work outside of El Paso to continue to grow as a writer.
Gianluca Cuevas
Gianluca Cuevas, Photographer
Gianluca Cuevas is a staff photographer for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics. He plans to work in the automotive industry designing cars/mechanic in the F1. He also has his small photography business 365elements which he plans to continue to grow.
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