The lights are on and everyone’s home in NAU’s expanded housing

As the first week of the fall semester winds down, there is little doubt that Northern Arizona University will once again see an increase in its student population.

Official estimates peg the incoming freshman class at 4,100, which would be a record. About 97 percent of those students are living on campus, bringing the total number ofstudents housed on campus to 8,372.

It already shows.

The university’s dorms are filled to capacity, with triple occupancy in 450 rooms and 83 students living in temporary expanded occupancy housing.

Two sparkling new on-campus properties are also full and maintain waiting lists.

With 144 units, Hilltop Townhomes has become a bustling community of 576 students. And the 275 units at The Suites, joined to campus by a new pedestrian bridge across McConnell Drive, are now home to 550 students.

Those modern facilities, packed with highly sought amenities and completed just days before the fall semester at a cost of $65 million, occupy land leased from NAU. The buildings are owned and operated by American Campus Communities.

Their instant popularity not only is evidence of a sound business model, but also demonstrates that the university can address enrollment goals without spending huge sums up front.

“Our partnership with American Campus Communities has allowed us to expand our capacity while sticking to a fiscally responsible budget,” said NAU President John Haeger.

Enrollment on NAU’s Flagstaff campus now stands at 18,275, which is an increase of 650 over fall 2011. The Arizona Board of Regents has set an enrollment goal of 25,000 on the Flagstaff campus by 2020.

In fall 2011, NAU enrolled 17,625 full-time undergraduate and graduate students on its main campus. Counting full-time and part-time students on all campuses, NAU enrolled 25,179 students. That number reached 26,015 this year.