Is Living on Campus for El Paso Freshmen Worth the Cost?


Zack Jimenez

A traffic sign with directions to El Paso near the edge of the campus.

At New Mexico State University, incoming freshmen or international first-year students are required to live on campus, according to the Housing & Residency Life. First-time, full-time undergraduate students admitted to the NMSU Las Cruces campus are required to live in a university residence hall for the first academic year or two semesters.

For those students in the El Paso area that want to attend NMSU fear that they are required to live on campus as first years. There is miscommunication between the college and students on these boundaries. Other El Paso students actually enjoy living on campus and are perfectly fine with commuting back to the El Paso area when needed.

Austin Yearwood is a freshman here at NMSU and likes the idea of change. Yearwood says, “I wanted to come to NMSU because it’s a fresh start. Everyone always stays home and goes to UTEP and I just didn’t want to. This is my first year, and I’m loving it here at NMSU.”

On the other hand, some El Paso students do not like the idea of living on campus as a freshman because they find it to be financially unnecessary. The idea is that commuting from the El Paso area weekly is smarter financially rather than paying $1,400-$2,200 for housing as a first year student.

Karla Landerous also a freshman, does not like the first year housing requirement. Landerous says, “With the mandatory housing I’m wasting so much more money. I could’ve commuted, but the process is too tedious. This school is draining my wallets, and it isn’t fair because I’m going back to what I didn’t want to.”

Students that wish to not live on campus as first years can request for exemption. What this means is that students filing the request for exemption form are eligible as long as they meet the exemption requirements.

The exemption requirements are: student lives with intermediate family (parents, grandparents, aunt/uncle, legal guardian), student resident with spouse/domestic partner or dependent child(ren), student is 21 years or older, student is enrolled full time in distant education, active military/veteran status and medical hardship.

Ashley Clark is a freshman and lives in the El Paso area as well. She knew about the exemption form and filed the request, but didn’t have a good out coming.

Clark spoke about her experience about requesting for exemption. Clark says, “I knew about the exemption request and I filed the form when I was a senior in high school. The forum and the process it’s self takes too long and only certain people qualify. I didn’t want to wait weeks in to know if I got approved or not.”

Clark says it wasn’t a great experience for her when she was in high school going through the process of applying and entering college. She imagined what her ideal thoughts of what college would be like as far as commuting and living at home, not living on campus.

Clark continues with, “I think it’s unnecessary, with it being in place, people are spending so much more money. They say we get something that’s ‘like’ in state tuition, when in reality it’s thousands more.”

At this very moment of time, NMSU is completing the process of building a new residency hall across the north side of Corbett Center to house 300 beds. The college is really trying to push the first year student requirement by providing more housing complexes beside Garcia Hall, Pinon Hall, and RGH.

The big question is: should NMSU makes students that live within driving distance from the El Paso areas and other southern New Mexico areas such as Santa Teresa, Chaparral or even northern New Mexico as far as Radium Springs to be required to live on campus as entering freshman?

Financially, most entering freshman cannot afford to live on campus and are forced to use Financial Aid or take out loans. This could be avoided if first year students were not required to live on campus. It is understandable for students that live in northern New Mexico, are out of state or even international students that want to attend NMSU and truly do need a residency on campus.

Texas students, but specifically El Paso students feel that the housing requirement is certainly unnecessary for their situation. Other El Paso students love change and want to experience the full college life living in the dorms and possibly visiting home on the weekends.

The housing requirements is an ongoing talk that interested student’s need some clarifications on as far as new changes or events. As of now, no changes have been made and first year students are required to live on campus. If students do not wish to live on campus, they can request for exemption at the Housing & Residential Life.


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