UMass Amherst utilizes a Variable Rate System (VRS) to determine the housing fee that students pay for extra space and privacy. This means that if a student is living in a double room alone, in a triple room alone, or in a triple room with only one other person, there is an adjustment to the semester room rate.
If a student has a vacant space in their room, they must decide whether to pay the rate adjustment to guarantee that they are not assigned another roommate or choose not to pay the adjustment fee and be assigned a new roommate. Decisions regarding the adjustment fee cannot be made until the option is offered by Residential Life. Therefore, a student cannot buy out the extra space in their room until Residential Life determines its occupancy and when it is appropriate to initiate the Variable Rate System.
Please Note: Students assigned to converted residence hall space, lounges, economy triples etc., cannot participate in this process and will not be offered the buy out option.
Once Residential Life determines that we have met demand for on-campus housing, students with a vacancy in the room they are assigned will be asked to make a decision.
Important: A student with a vacancy in their room MUST respond with a decision by the due date stated or the default action will be to leave the room open for a roommate. If more than one student are assigned to the room (i.e. two students in a triple), both students must submit matching responses. If all students do not respond or respond differently, the room will be considered left open for a roommate.
Residential Life will complete the following steps to notify a student of the decision they will need to make regarding the vacancy:
- A descriptive email will be sent to the student's University email account with instructions on how to leave their room open for another resident and how to buy out the space.
- Students will log in to their SPIRE account. Under Housing > Room Buy Out, they can follow the instructions to either buy out the room or leave the additional space available.
- If a student fails to respond by completing the process on SPIRE, they will receive two additional reminders via email to make a decision by the due date.
Residential Life Student Services strongly recommends that a student who has been asked to make a decision about the vacancy in their room read the materials sent, consult their parent or guardian and make a decision by the due date. If a student fails to respond by the deadline indicated, the vacant space in your room will be available for students seeking a change of assignment.
Students who make the decision to leave the room open for a roommate, must keep half of the room clear for the remainder of the semester. This includes a completely cleared bed, dresser, closet and desk. If the room is found to be blocked at any time, the student will be billed the VRS charge from the original offer and a $150 blocked room fee for blocking the room. Students who spread out their belongings and are found to be blocking the open space will have the VRS fee and the blocked room fee adjusted to their Bursar bill. Furthermore, the room will be coded as a private accommodation for the remainder of the semester. Students are informed of this policy when they receive a receipt after submitting their decision to Residential Life Student Services.
Students who make the decision to buy out the space in the room will be billed the appropriate surcharge to their Bursar account. The student may use the space in the room to spread out and can expect to not receive a roommate for that semester. Students only buy out the room for the current semester and should prepare the room back to its original configuration before checking out at the end of the semester.
The VRS Surcharge
The surcharge for VRS is a prorated amount corresponding directly with the week the option is offered, as well as the room type (double or triple rooms).
For Example: The rent surcharges per student as of the 5th week of the semester are:
- Double Room Alone $800
- Triple with Someone Else $400
- Triple Room Alone $800
In the interest of fairness to all residents who want private accommodations, no one can be permitted to have increased space without agreeing to pay the adjusted housing fee. For this reason, any student who does complete the Room Buy Out link under Housing in SPIRE by the deadline should expect to receive a roommate. Students should discuss any financial concerns with their parent or guardian as well as anyone else who may have a direct interest.
Remember: All students who do not log in to SPIRE and Complete the Room Buy Out page will have their rooms designated as left open for a new roommate.
Will You Get a Reminder?
YES, if a student is in a position to benefit from either increased living space or the privacy of their own room, Student Services will inform them of the process as outlined and also remind the student via email.