As many Binghamton University students may know, taking a semester to study abroad can create a thorny housing situation. Those who sign up for a full year of housing unaware that they will spend the following semester away from Binghamton can find themselves locked into deals that they did not intend, with few options at their disposal.
Bradleigh Margulies, a BU junior double-majoring in marketing and management, has found herself in such a situation.
Margulies, who lives in University Plaza, is going abroad for the spring 2011 semester, but due to housing contracts at BU, she has been unable to find a subletter for her apartment during that time.
According to Margulies, She and her apartment-mate “originally had solidified subletters to take our lease for the spring of 2011, and signed our fall lease knowing we could easily transfer over in the spring. Our subletters were moving off campus and had gotten financial approval from housing to move to UP and were all ready to move. The head of housing got involved and forbid them from getting out of their contract.”
Grace Hoefner, senior associate director of Residential Life, states that all students had to sign the housing contract before being admitted into an on-campus housing program, and should have noted the opening statement, which specifically states the stipulation that students cannot cancel their housing mid-year in order to move off campus, as well as Section III. 6, which further details the stipulation.
“Students should be very well aware they cannot cancel their housing in order to move off campus for the spring semester,” Hoefner said.
According to the contract, as dictated by the housing agreement, students living on campus are only eligible for cancellation in the case of graduation, study abroad, exchange programs, academic dismissal, transfer, withdrawal or military service.
But Margulies still faces the reality of needing to rent out her rooms.
“If we cannot sublet our rooms, then we have to pay the rest of the lease,” which Margulies said would amount to about $5,000. “If we are paying both study abroad fees and leasing rent, then my apartment-mate will have to take out a loan to fund her study abroad program.”
Margulies expressed frustration over the BU Housing Contract explicitly forbidding students from moving off campus in between semesters.
“We have had multiple offers of students who would like to take our lease,” Margulies said. “But their bound housing contracts will not let them move off campus. Now we are panicking to find subletters to transfer our lease to, in hopes that we do not have to pay the remainder of the academic year’s contract.”
Margulies advised students renting off campus and looking to study abroad to plan for these dilemmas far in advance.
“Try and find either transfers or people who are coming back from abroad to take the lease,” Margulies said. “Hoping that students living on campus can break their contracts to take yours is a long shot, and both my apartment-mate and I learned that the hard way.”