Retirees headed back to college? The rise of senior living communities on campuses

Looking for a place to retire? An increasing number of colleges are hoping older Americans will choose to settle down in sponsored housing on or near their campuses.

Throughout recent years, more institutions have been involved in partnerships to develop retirement communities, though the characteristics of each varies, as does its relationship with the college.

Oftentimes residents at university-based retirement communities will be allowed to audit classes for free, or granted other tuition-related perks. In some cases they will also be given access to campus amenities, assisted-living services, alongside typical retirement community service benefits.

The arrangement often offers proximity and access to state-of-the-art medical and research facilities. And affordability may also be a big selling point.

On the other hand, the communities give students employment opportunities and the ability to find new mentors in their fields of interest.

The college-affiliated senior housing communities have been widely described as synergistic for all parties involved, particularly for schools that stand to benefit economically.

“Having a retirement community on or near campus also affects the bottom line,” Andrew Pentis of Student Loan Hero told FOX Business. “After all, schools are businesses at the end of the day, and seniors represent a new base of customers. They contribute to the micro economy on campus, spending money on school goods and services, paying local taxes and increasing the school's enrollment figures. They could also serve useful volunteering roles on campus.”

Older residents are typically encouraged to attend sporting events and student performances.

Further, growth in college endowments has slowed – to 8 percent in 2018, from 12 percent the year prior. Colleges are also enrolling fewer students as overall costs are rising.

Where alumni are concerned, ties are particularly valuable as it can extend the length and value of a relationship from a planned giving or donation perspective.

Among the colleges that have these sorts of arrangements – which tend to be reserved for individuals aged 60 and over – are Dartmouth, Cornell, Denison, Oberlin, Purchase University, among many others.

Arizona State University is building a community, called the Mirabella ASU, which boasts floor plans that range in size from 751 square feet to nearly 2,700 square feet. A spokesperson for the university told FOX Business the price range is $300,000 to $1 million for penthouse units. The on-campus facility will offer amenities that resemble a hotel, including dining, laundry, housekeeping, a fitness center and valet service. Residents also have the option to enroll in more than 450 courses.

Other schools are also looking into the possibility.

A spokesperson for the University of Pennsylvania confirmed to FOX Business that it is exploring the option of creating a proximate retirement community, though she added no definitive plans have been made.

Colleen Mallon, the chief marketing officer at the Kendal Corporation – which has helped colleges develop these communities – told FOX Business that the practice actually dates back to the early 1990s, though it is “really starting to take off.”

“The impetus for these communities started with faculty members who were at those universities who started thinking about their retirement years,” Mallon said.


Kendal is currently working the two other colleges interested in creating communities of their own, though they have not yet made their plans public.