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Last summer, Snow College officials worried that all of their 1,600 students wouldn't find housing when fall quarter opened.

"We were desperate," said Snow College President Gerald J. Day. "It was through the goodwill of the community that we got through this year."That "goodwill" came in the form of Ephraim residents who rented basement apartments, duplexes and extra rooms to Snow students.

"The community discovered students as a cash crop," Day added.

But fall 1991 won't find this central Utah college with the same predicament. Three new student housing units are planned or under way. They're the first major additions to student housing here in years.

The new units include 64 beds at a renovated Ephraim Hotel, another 96 beds at a unit that will go up across the street from the Snow Library and 144 beds that will eventually be built on property two blocks north of the campus. All are private developments by local residents. The college itself hasn't added new dorm rooms since the early 1960s.

"We have every expectation that our enrollment (housing) needs will be met by the private sector," Day told the state Board of Regents Friday.

That is good news for Snow in two ways: The college won't have to funnel state dollars needed for other critical construction needs into student housing, and local owners means that the college will be able to work with them directly about student-management issues.

But the new beds won't solve Snow's housing crunch, if the college gets more students.

Day said Ephraim will need 150 to 200 new beds annually over the next five years if the college grows from its current enrollment of 1,600 students to its capacity of 2,500 students.

While Utah's public colleges and universities are undergoing an enrollment explosion, Snow, the state's smallest public college, has experienced moderate growth over the last five years.

English professor Roger Baker, who has taught at Snow for 17 years, said the enrollment didn't vary more than 100 students for more than than his first 10 years here. But in 1987, the enrollment jumped by 10.8 percent to 1,396. It has grown steadily since then and is expected to reach 2,000 this fall.

It is this rising enrollment that caused Snow's housing crunch.

Day said he believes Snow will reach its 2,500-student capacity this decade if the college can hire the necessary faculty.

While Snow's enrollment hasn't skyrocketed like that at Salt Lake Community College and Utah Valley Community College, it is attractive to students living along the Wasatch Front because of its lower tuition and living costs.

Day reported that Snow students pay the lowest tuition and fees in Utah's higher education system - $1,035 annually. He said a student, living either on or off campus, pays about $350 to $400 a quarter for housing.