SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The University of Rhode Island has decided to reduce on-campus housing by 30% for this upcoming school year.

Housing is being prioritized for first-year students and those coming from out-of-state. The decision has left returning URI students scrambling for housing as the fall semester quickly approaches.

Grace Kiernan, of East Greenwich, is an upcoming sophomore at URI and she is also on the URI Student Senate.

Keirnan said she recently received an email saying she will need to find alternative housing for next semester. She said one of her only options was to find off-campus housing in Narragansett.

“I feels like they are putting us on the back burner even though a majority of the URI student population is in-state students,” Kiernan said.

She said it was difficult to find a house to rent because of the number of other in-state students trying to do the same thing.

“Prices started to go up as we started looking and after the email was sent out,” Kiernan said. “We were luckily able to find a house, but it was a lot more expensive than we were originally planning on doing.”

Meanwhile, Narragansett is considering limiting rental options for college students.

URI says they’re unable to safely accommodate all students due to the new guidelines put into place due to COVID-19.

The housing scenario will force many Rhode Island-based students to commute to campus each day.

Only 4,400 students can be housed on campus in the fall compared to the planned 6,200, according to URI.

“Rhode Island is the smallest state so I know it’s a long ways from Woonsocket but it’s conceivable,” Frankie Minor with URI’s Housing and Student Affairs said. “As the health information tells us we can accommodate more students on campus whether that’s mid semester, at the start of the spring semester, we are going top be bringing them back on campus.”

URI says there will only be one or two students assigned to a dormitory, at most.

Minor says URI is working on other transportation options for students, like additional shuttles and more on-campus parking.

Grants of upwards of $3,000 are available to students who are no longer able to live on campus to help pay for transportation, parking, and other housing needs.

Colleges and universities throughout the country are also limiting on-campus housing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.