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      USC planning housing expansion; some upperclassmen eager to stay on campus

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- As the University of South Carolina continues to expand, campus housing officials say they are grappling with how to provide enough rooms not only to an increasing number of freshmen, but also to more upperclassmen who want to stay on campus.

      "I like it on campus way better," said Michael Stewart, adding he has no desire to move off campus when he starts his junior year this fall. "[When] you're a lot closer to campus, everything's a lot easier for people who don't have cars like me. I have to take the shuttle and sometimes the shuttle might be on time, might be off time, you never really know."

      University officials say he's not alone.

      "The university commissioned a master plan that included a market study to find out just how many of those upper class students really do want to live on campus, and that resulted in a result that said that we needed about 800 new beds," said Gene Luna, Associate VP for Housing and Student Dev. at USC.

      Living off campus means more freedom, but some students say living with a few more rules is not so bad when it comes with benefits.

      "Getting to class on time and food, meal plan and stuff like that," said USC sophomore Cedrick Cooper, listing off the reasons he likes on-campus life.

      "It's also a lot cheaper and less responsibility to live on campus," said USC senior Alex Arute.

      It doesn't hurt that recent renovations to residence halls have made living on campus more appealing.

      "I didn't mind moving back into the dorms at all junior year, because I had my own bedroom and kitchen and living area," said Arute.

      At residence halls like Patterson, the rooms were renovated into suites after students showed a lack of interest in living in a traditional dorm room.

      Luna says the university plans to add the additional on-campus housing over the next several years.

      USC is waiting for a bond to be approved in state legislature that would help fund some of the student housing renovations and construction. Luna says the university is also exploring a possible public-private partnership to help fund future expansions.