Why Universities Are Banking on Senior Housing

December 23, 2019

Seniors are increasingly heading back to college, and many universities believe they’ll want to buy a home nearby too.

State government subsidies for higher education are below prerecession levels and traditional students are saddled with college debt—causing universities to look at retired baby boomers as a promising source of income, The Wall Street Journal reports. As such, several colleges are taking advantage of their extra land to develop upscale senior housing, looking to generate extra profits.

Senior living facilities on or near campus cater to baby boomers who may wish to take an occasional class or pursue their academic interests. Some baby boomers also view it as an opportunity to mentor younger students.

Lasell University near Boston built one of the first on-campus senior communities 20 years ago. Those who live there are required to take 450 hours of coursework or activities every year. Other colleges have followed suit, such as University of Michigan, Oberlin College in Ohio, and others. The University of Central Florida is planning 296 retirement homes for an off-campus community that will cater to seniors called Legacy Pointe. It will offer transportation to campus for courses and also will bring in its medical students for rotations.

“There were a lot of things that I didn’t think I was good at in college that I know I am now,” Elizabeth Ewing, 78, told The Wall Street Journal. “Math, statistics, engineering. I’d kind of like to see what all that’s about.” Ewing is a retired fashion designer. She and her husband recently purchased a home that is in a new community near the State University of New York’s Purchase College.

Seniors Want to Go Back to Class. Universities Want to Sell Them Real Estate,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 19, 2019) [Log-in required.]