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Two-year live-on requirement

December 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

The primary objective of Michigan State University is to provide every undergraduate student with an environment to learn, thrive, and graduate. To meet this objective, the Office of the Provost has invested in student success initiatives, including a campus-wide campaign encouraging students to take 15 credits or more each semester, the nationally recognized Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative, and course and curriculum reforms to close opportunity gaps. The result is an academically enriched residence/educational model that has contributed to a higher graduation rate among our undergraduates, rising from 77% to 81% over the last five years. Our graduation rates for traditionally underrepresented students have similarly risen by 2 or 3 percentage points. We are heartened by the upward trajectory, but will not be satisfied until we see more students accomplishing their academic goals.

One of the metrics we find particularly relevant is the student success outcomes based on where our undergraduate students live during their transitions into college. Analyses conducted by MSU’s Office of Institutional Research show that undergraduates who live on campus for their first two years at MSU have graduation rates about 2.5 percentage points higher than peers who live on campus only their first year. The difference in graduation rates between students who live on or off in their second year is larger for students from some underserved groups, by nearly 10 percentage points. These data thus point to the next step we must take.

After consultation with the President and Board of Trustees, as well as conference with the deans and academic leaders, we are announcing the reinstatement of a required second year of living on campus that MSU had waived since the 1980s.

This decision may be viewed as a difficult, especially during the uncertainties associated with COVID. But, we believe vaccinations will be widely available to the population before the fall, returning our campus residence halls to capacity. And, great universities make difficult decisions in the context of the data at hand. So in the end, the decision was easy – it is in the best interest of the students in whose interest we serve. If we make this decision now, students who have been disrupted during their last year of high school will have greater access to resources and activities that correlate with success. We believe this decision provides students with the robust college experience that is a path to graduation and success for more students.

Thus, we are announcing that beginning with undergraduate students who start at MSU in fall 2021, the on-campus living requirement will include a second year. It will not impact students who start at MSU prior to the fall 2021 semester.

Please reach out with thoughts and comments!


Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
MSU Foundation Professor

Vennie Gore
Senior Vice President of Residential and Hospitality Services and Auxiliary Enterprises and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs