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Campus Life

MED Buys Site of Future Student Housing

Dorm will help students cut costs of living near campus

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The School of Medicine recently purchased land on Albany Street that will eventually house a 9-story, 104-unit residence hall for first-year medical students.

No one ever said that medical school was easy — particularly in one of the more expensive rental markets in the country. Many students at the School of Medicine face financial challenges when they begin their studies at BU, often paying more than $2,000 a month to live near the Medical Campus or commuting from farther away in order to save money. But now, the school is taking steps to offer on-campus housing for students, with the purchase in February of an 86,000-square-foot parcel of land that will be used for “safe, convenient, and affordable apartment housing for students,” according to Karen Antman, MED dean and provost of the Medical Campus.

“The addition of on-campus housing has been something that the medical school has talked about for decades,” says President Robert A. Brown. “With the support of our friends and alumni, the concept of student housing at BUSM will become a reality.”

The 817 Albany St. property, located just a few blocks from the medical school facilities, will be developed into a 9-story building with 104 units that will accommodate upwards of 208 first-year medical students. Rent for students in the new facility is targeted at approximately $850 a month.

“We want to group our first-year medical students in the new facility so that the adjustment into medical school is easier,” says Antman. “Students who live and study together develop an esprit de corps that facilitates team building. Below-market rents would also decrease student debt. Some of our students commute to school from as far away as Rhode Island — on-campus housing would eliminate the need, and expense, of a car.”

“The time that students have traditionally spent commuting to and from the school can now be spent focusing on their studies, on patient care, on research interests, and on building a stronger sense of community,” adds Robert Witzburg, the associate dean for admissions. “Having a residential campus will be a major improvement in the quality of life and the quality of education we offer, while simultaneously reducing the annual cost of attendance.”

The school also has long-term plans to build a second 9-story facility, this one containing 196 units, on the property, which would house other MED students, as well as those from the Goldman School of Dental Medicine and the School of Public Health. Future plans include administrative offices, laboratory space, and child-care facilities.

The total cost of the new student housing facility will be approximately $40 million; Boston University will provide half the construction costs. MED has already raised $1 million of the $20 million it needs. An aggressive fundraising program, administrators say, would have the building available for student occupancy as early as August 2010.

“We are grateful to the donors who have already stepped forward to pledge their support for this facility, which will transform student life at the School of Medicine,” Antman says. “Our students will ultimately benefit from the educational and financial advantages that safe, convenient, and affordable housing will provide.”

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