Marianna, Florida --
Very few of Florida’s state community colleges offer on-campus student housing.
What you probably didn’t know is Chipola College is one of those schools.
College officials say on-campus housing is a crucial tool for recruiting and retaining students.
Roughly 100 students currently live in Chipola College’s dorms. Softball player Devin Mathews is one of them.
"Everything's within walking distance, buildings, the cafeteria, all the classrooms, I don't have to go waste my time, trying to find a parking spot, I can park here at the dorms, walk to class, be in class within two, three minutes."
Mathews is from Leesburg and says it was difficult adjusting to the area. She had never heard of Marianna before accepting her scholarship.
"The previous school I went to was in a big town and it was actual college living of having a university right down the road." Mathews says.
Athletic Director Dr. Dale O’Daniel has worked at Chipola College since 1967. He says the dorms create a residency program among students.
Chipola’s dorms were built back in the 1950’s before the state passed legislation prohibiting housing on community college campuses.
If fact, Chipola College and Florida Gateway College in Lake City are the only two state colleges which provide on-campus housing for enrolled students.
Edison State College in Fort Myers will be joining them as they prepare to build a four-story, 404 bed residence hall in 2012.
"In the old days, it was a big draw, we drew students from all over the state," says O’Daniel. But O’Daniel also says there is a liability factor involved.
"Because you have a cross-section of America living there and it's their home. So all of the issues that are out there in the real world are in a dorm too. But I think the asset greatly outweighs the liabilities from the standpoint of what it means to a comprehensive school."
O’Daniel says they may look into expanding or renovating their dorms in the future.