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Quarter of Continuing Grad Students Get MIT Housing

By Michael E. Rolish

The newly revamped graduate housing lottery offered rooms to more than a thousand graduate students this year, including almost all new graduate students who applied. Only a quarter of continuing students who applied received housing in the lottery.

Students who have never before registered at MIT are given preference over continuing students, who are presumed to be familiar with the Cambridge area.

Anthony E. Gray PhD ’00, the project director for graduate housing, said “most people received their first or second choice,” referring to students who received housing. The lottery is run on the principle that “it is more important for people to get on campus as opposed to getting their first choice,” he said.

The lottery ran in two rounds. In the first round, 930 new students applied and 831 received housing, while only 235 continuing graduate students received housing out of 1100 who applied.

In the second round of the lottery, run in early June, 170 students were given assignments, “including approximately 60 continuing students in Tang Hall on a one-year license agreement,” Gray said. Many continuing graduate students were assigned to doubles in Ashdown in this round.

Last year, students were given a ranking and notified of assignments as they became available in the course of the summer. Many students had already secured housing by the time they received their assignments.

“This year, the Graduate Housing Office completed well over 95% of the process before Commencement -- a great improvement over last year,” Gray wrote in an e-mail. Students enter the lottery with the understanding that they will accept their assignments if given them.

“We don’t want someone to capriciously join the housing lottery,” Gray said. “We need to hold [those assigned housing] accountable.” The roughly 80 students who declined their assignments in the first round will be fined $250.

Gray said he expects a vacancy rate of about 2 percent, with all vacancies expected to be filled by the middle of the summer.

Housing prices low this year

Meanwhile, graduate students not given MIT housing will have to look elsewhere.

According to Linda L. Patton, the assistant director for off-campus housing, the market for private apartments is currently quite good. “There are more apartments available than tenants. This is forcing rents to go down,” she said.

Patton attributes this to the poor economy and the loss of jobs in the greater Boston area. “We have not seen this volume of available housing in twenty years,” she said.