Why are housing and dining bills separate from tuition bills? Doesn’t the University use the same money to provide dorms and food as it does to offer classes and other things on campus?
While you might think the UW pools all the money it collects through bills and fees together to fund everything, it instead has several departments and units to handle specific responsibilities. The UW utilizes auxiliary departments to handle some of these. Auxiliary departments are part of the UW, but they have separate funding sources, usually generated from the service they provide.
Housing & Food Services is an example of a self-sustaining department, meaning it gets no funding from the UW but instead generates funding through billing for its services. The money you pay for your residence hall room and the food you eat pays for the operations and supplies that enable HFS to provide you with those services.
The prices and fees HFS charges directly relate to the amount of money it takes to provide food, rooms, amenities and residential programming, and meet all financial obligations. HFS only collects enough money to pay for its capital and operating expenses and to maintain a responsible reserve fund for emergencies and future capital costs. It doesn’t make a profit for owners or shareholders, like the private sector.
While the cost-of-living in Seattle is very high compared to most parts of the country, HFS finds ways to mitigate those costs to keep your rent and dining costs comparable to, or less than, other universities in the state. HFS does things like operating sustainably to cut down on utility costs, exploring other revenue streams during the summer months to offset academic year expenses, and getting the best food supply costs to keep food prices as affordable as they can be in Seattle.
HFS is an integral part of the UW and proudly provides you with the most affordable on-campus living experience possible, while still delivering the quality and range of services you expect.