Barnard has a severe housing shortage. On Wednesday, residents learned that Plimpton rooms which in the spring were singles will this fall be doubles. Today, a student forwarded us an email from Barnard Res Life explaining that Barnard students returning from leave, and possibly transfers as well, may not get on-campus housing at all—may be forced into apartments, or the 92 St. Y, or the Brandon Residency for Women.

What does that mean for students returning from leave and transfers who are on financial aid? According to a commenter, “Barnard gives out housing grants to cover the cost of housing and meals. If you decide you don’t want to live on campus, that grant does not transfer over to cover tuition costs or is expendable for off-campus housing. You just lose 11g’s.”

We contacted the director of Barnard’s financial aid office as well as the associate dean and assistant director of Barnard Res Life; all three were out.

However, we did read the below on Barnard Res Life’s Off-Campus page. As of now, we’re unsure whether students technically “chose” to live off-campus by giving up their housing guarantee when they went on leave.

Please note that students who choose to live off-campus are subject to a “commuter” instead of a “residential” financial aid budget (which can result in a difference of $11,000 of available aid). Students who are thinking of living off-campus are strongly encouraged to contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss how it could affect their financial aid package.

And this sentence below adds up to a catch-22, at least for the transfer students:

[S]tudents receive a guarantee of housing only if they continue to live on-campus.

One nasty irony from another nook of Barnard Res Life’s site:

Barnard College considers the residential experience to be an integral part of a student’s total education. Students who live on campus have a more productive and more satisfying college experience than those who live off campus. Research over the past 40 years indicates that college students who live on campus are more likely to [do better in a bevy of ways].

We’re bothering more people over the phone and by email; hopefully we’ll get a statement from Barnard Res Life and Financial Aid today, rather than Monday.

N.B. On-campus housing is not guaranteed for Barnard students returning for leave or for transfer students.