Jan 19, 2024 - News

Xavier to build new dorm as out-of-state students flock to New Orleans

Rendering shows the exterior of a new dorm at Xavier University in New Orleans

Xavier plans to build a new dorm at 4700 Dixon Street. Rendering: Courtesy of Xavier

Xavier University of Louisiana is building an $80 million residence hall to house the influx of out-of-state students to the private, historically Black university.

Why it matters: Xavier has run out of room to house students.

Driving the news: The campus' four dorms can accommodate 1,400 students, and they are full, according to Curtis Wright, vice president of student affairs at Xavier.

  • The school has a partnership with the University of New Orleans to house 450 students and a waitlist with several hundred more.
  • The goal is to get the students at UNO back onto Xavier's campus, Wright said.

Details: The new co-ed residence hall will be Xavier's largest dorm with almost 600 beds, Wright said. The six-story building will feature apartment-style rooms with two roommates sharing a bathroom.

  • The first floor will have food options from SodexoMagic, along with a 24/7, self-serve convenience store modeled after the ones in airports.
  • The new dorm will also have features to help it process stormwater and be more resilient in hurricanes, Wright said. It will be built in an existing parking lot between Dixon Street and Drexel Drive.

Timeline: The goal is to break ground by the end of March and have it open in fall 2025, but those dates may change based on weather and permits, Wright said.

The big picture: Xavier is getting more out-of-state students, and they need a place to live.

  • About 10 years ago, the majority of Xavier's students came from Louisiana and Mississippi. Now, more students come from California than Louisiana, Wright tells Axios.
  • Xavier's largest markets outside of Louisiana are Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and Detroit, Wright said. He credited the school's alums for the success recruiting out-of-state.

Zoom in: Xavier is a small university with total enrollment in fall 2022 of 3,149, according to the school.

  • It's the only historically Black Catholic university in the country.
Photo shows Reynold Verret sitting on a chair on stage
Reynold Verret, seen here at the 2023 Essence Fest, is the president of Xavier University. Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Essence

State of play: Rising rental costs in the city are contributing to students staying in campus housing longer, Wright said, with Xavier students averaging three to four years.

  • It's in line with the national trend of young Americans looking for ways to split rents, writes Axios' Sami Sparber.

Yes, but: Students want better amenities in dorms, especially private bathrooms and reliable Wi-Fi.

  • "Students aren't watching television as much as they are streaming," Wright says, adding they often bring four to five devices to campus. "That pull on the technology, specifically the Wi-Fi, is monumental."
  • Students also want community and study spaces, so Xavier is incorporating those into the new residence hall.
  • Another desirable request at Xavier: a view of Caesars Superdome.

Meanwhile, Xavier is working on two other big projects — a parking garage and dining hall renovations.

  • The parking garage is being built next to the new residence hall and will have roughly 400 spaces. It will replace an existing parking lot.
  • The goal is to open the garage this fall.

By the numbers: The price for campus housing varies based on amenities, Wright said, and rent hasn't been determined yet for the new dorm.

  • Wright estimates room and board at $10,000 annually, which includes the required meal plan for students in campus housing.
  • Tuition is $24,836 for undergraduates. Nearly 90% of undergrads apply and receive need-based financial aid, the school says.

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