Mesalands Community College is considering building a 48-unit residence hall next to its fitness center on Hines Street.
The college’s board of trustees, however, were reluctant to give full approval of the proposed dorms at last week’s meeting.
At a projected cost of $3.5 million, board members unanimously agreed the project needed more study.
Several board members also asked for more financial details.
The college plans to borrow the funds and pay the money back over a 30-year period, said Mesalands President Phillip O. Barry.
The college still has to request a loan from the state and have any financing plan approved by the state.
Residence fees would pay off the loan and would be based on about an 80 percent occupancy rate, which is similar to the rate used by other colleges in the state, Barry said.
To ensure that the college earned a certain sum throughout the year, the college could require out-of-state students to spend a certain number of semesters in the dorm, suggested board members Ted Peabody and James Streetman.
For about six years the college has been collecting data about on-campus residences from student surveys. And many have said that they would live in dorms if they had been available.
Forty-five students are enrolled in the rodeo program, and “we could have had a couple more if we’d had dorms,” said C.J. Aragon, rodeo coach.
Because the college’s enrollment has increased and the rodeo and wind energy programs are attracting out-of-state students as well several international students, Streetman said it may be possible that the college should consider increasing the number of dorm units to 60.
“This is very big ... we’re betting on having them filled,” Barry said.
While the dorms are not filled year ‘round, Barry said it could be possible to bring in other income through non-traditional students such as those who attend Elder Hostel programs or Mesalands Dinosaur Museum dig programs.
For the college to meet its mortgage, it would probably need to charge more than $3,000 annually for a student to live in the dorms for 110 days, Barry said.
Mesalands Board of Trustees is expected to consider the final steps for financing of the residence hall project at its next board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 14.