SALT LAKE CITY — The beginning of the fall semester at the University of Utah is just over a month away and leaders with the school have a unique plan to address a student housing shortage and future growth.
They're asking alumni to help house students during the semester.
The pilot program, called "home away from home," will match students to the homes of alumni or those connected to the school. The students will then spend their semester living in their homes.
"One of the most exciting things for us is that it's mutually beneficial," said Bethany Hardwig, Director for the Office of Alumni Relations at the university.
Students who are sophomores, juniors or seniors are paired with alumni with shared interests or fields of study.
The program is more expensive to participate in when compared to regular on-campus housing.
"It’s $5,000 dollars a semester which is a little more expensive than some of our on-campus options, however, we are not really trying to compete with on-campus housing," said Hardwig.
The $5,000 will go to the alumni who are hosting the students in order to compensate for utility and convenience costs.
"This is really for students who couldn’t get on-campus housing and are looking for a different and unique experience,” Hardwig said.
FOX 13 News asked about safety protocols for the program as the university has faced increased scrutiny over security on campus.
"One of the things we are hoping to ensure is that the students who participate in this program at no point question that the university is in their corner," Hardwig said.
Hardwig explained that students and alumni will go through comprehensive screenings, a background check, and be vetted by three references beforehand.
The university has also hired two staff members with a focus dedicated on the new program.
Interested parties in hosting a student must fill out a survey, more than 100 people have already applied to participate in the upcoming semester.