Considerations for Private Management and Ownership of Student Housing

Topics: Residence Life, Student Experience, Student Affairs, Third Party Partnerships, Administration and Finance

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Research Questions

  • Does the management firm or the university determine residence hall policy (e.g., room rates and registration procedures, safety standards, drug and alcohol regulations)?
  • How do housing rates at firm-owned halls differ from those at university-owned halls?
  • Is the university or the firm responsible for implementing community-building programs or other retention-related programs for residents? How many staff does the firm employ to manage residence halls?
  • How does the management firm market its residence halls to prospective residents?
  • Has the university pursued or considered LEED certification for any of its residence halls?


Some universities choose to minimize the high costs of residence hall management by retaining a private management firm to operate select university housing complexes. This report describes the role of management firms in residence hall policy and programming development, especially in housing complexes owned by a university-affiliated foundation or a private developer. The brief also discusses the terms of management contracts, housing security, and the marketing and staffing of privately managed housing complexes. Select advantages and disadvantages of contracting with a management firm are noted throughout.


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