Struggle to sublet hinder studying abroad
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For some students, the ability to sublet may be just as important a factor as rent and location are while searching for off-campus leases for next year.
Students struggle to find subletters to take over their off-campus leases while they study abroad, and it’s causing emotional and financial stress, junior Kara Shamsi said.
Shamsi said she was fortunate to find a subletter last minute, but not everyone finds themselves in the same situation.
“I know for a lot of people, if they don’t find a subletter they can’t afford [the lease],” she said.. “It would have been a huge financial burden if I had to pay for that and going abroad.”
If students are unable to find someone to sublet their apartment, the cost of covering rent can stop them from studying abroad, Shamsi said.
According to South Burlington real estate research firm Allen & Brooks, the average cost of a two-bedroom unit in Burlington ranges from $1,200 to $1,500 a month, and for a three-bedroom, $1,500 to $2,400.
For students unable to sublet their apartment, this can mean spending about $4,000 over six months to cover their lease while they study abroad, according to the firm’s research.
Thirty-seven percent of UVM undergraduates study abroad each year, according to the Office of International Education website.
Heather Scott, chair of SGA’s Committee on Legislative and Community Affairs, which acts as a liaison between UVM and the community, said resources are available to students looking to understand the subletting process.
The committee works with the city of Burlington and the office of student and community Relations to help solve housing issues and foster better relationships, Scott said.
As a student, she said this is a growing issue.
“Just being on Facebook, it’s easy to see how much of an issue it is,” Scott said. “We have such a small vacancy rate that it’s kind of scary to have this issue.”
Emily Howe, office manager at the office of student and community relations, talks about the struggles facing students looking to sublet their apartments to study abroad.
When students sign a lease they are responsible for the entire 12-month period, Howe said.
The office provides resources for students who want to move off campus.
“It’s a big stressor because there is a lot of money involved,” Howe said. “I’ve been working here a year and a half now, and I’ve definitely seen an uptick in the number of folks looking for sublets.”
Students have difficulty planning far enough in advance to coordinate with other students who might study abroad, and end up signing leases without a sublet in place, she said.
Students who study abroad have financial obligations both to UVM and the institution hosting the exchange, according to the Office of International Education.
Students can also expect their financial aid package to be recalculated based on the costs of their program, according to Student Financial Services’ website.
Financial aid is based on the standard cost of enrolling at UVM for a semester; any additional costs for studying abroad are not taken into consideration, the website states.
For now, many students use Facebook, Craigslist, and other social media platforms to connect with those looking for housing.