Uncategorized | 8 min

Balancing Security and Budget: The Geokey Revolution in Student Housing

By Geokey Marketing Team | January 31, 2024

When it comes to student housing management, possessing a secure access control system is essential. This past decade alone, we have witnessed numerous technological innovations come to the forefront to give property managers everything they need to expand upon and secure their business. However, despite rapid technological advancements, such as smart tech and mobile access control, many student housing facilities remain hesitant to upgrade their management system beyond the familiar realm of basic locks and keys and Excel worksheets. While sticking to what is familiar and comfortable is a factor, a key part of the reluctance stems from finances and budgeting, creating a barrier between student housing facilities and the enhanced security of modern solutions.

The traditional approach of relying on physical keys for access control poses security risks and significant financial burdens for student housing facilities. The costs associated with key cutting and rekeying incidents can quickly add up, leaving these facilities questioning the feasibility of embracing advanced access control technologies. The fear of upfront expenses and uncertainties about the long-term return on investment often become roadblocks to progress.

But what if a revolutionary access control solution could address these concerns head-on? What if student housing facilities could enhance security while saving money in the long run? We want to explore these common hesitations when considering access control upgrades and present an intriguing question: Is there an access control solution that promises better safety than traditional methods while promising long-term financial benefits? Join us on a journey to unlock the possibilities and reshape the future of student housing security.

The True Costs of Legacy Access Control in Student Housing

While the simple installation of a lock that requires no hardwiring or electricity might seem more secure, there are a lot of issues that make the mechanical lock both a security liability and a major financial buy-in for student housing facilities.

Regarding security, mechanical locks are thoroughly understood and can easily be broken into. According to a home burglary statistic, 580,000 break-ins occur annually in the United States. It is easy these days to go onto social media and see a video about breaking into all sorts of mechanical locks. Anyone determined enough to lockpick or break-in will succeed if given enough time. Lockpicking and breaking, however, aren't the only liabilities associated with mechanical locks.

There is also a lack of accountability regarding physical keys in student housing. They can be easily lost (At least 20 million keys are reported lost each year in the United States), passed around to other students or unauthorized persons, and stolen. While this creates issues for students and management, with people never knowing with 100% certainty that their building is secure, there is also the issue of how the institution would financially pay for these liabilities.

Student safety is a top priority, and any risk that opens up needs to be dealt with. It is why some universities can charge upwards of $250 whenever a key goes missing, and that liability occurs. While the pricing might seem high and appear on the onset as more of a deterrent to keeping account of your keys, the cost plays into how much the university is personally spending to deal with the issue.

On average, the cost of cutting a single key range between $1-4. While that’s a small number, multiplying that by thousands of students and the different access points they go through in their day can bring that number even higher. While most universities require students to turn keys in at the end of the year so that they can continue to be used, keys that go missing require the university to rekey the lock. The cost of bringing a specialist in to rekey a door ranges from $75-150, either hourly or by incident. It becomes necessary to do this, as leaving the doors as they are with unaccounted keys can lead to access being abused by people who shouldn’t have access. And because there is no accountability with keys, if someone has a key who shouldn’t, they can do whatever they want without risk of being identified without an extensive security system monitoring access. On top of this, there is the risk that, if the university puts the bill on the student who lost the key, the student doesn’t report the loss for fear of payment, meaning the issue goes unreported, and the likelihood of a more costly incident occurring increases exponentially.

The numbers don’t get much better regarding fobs and key cards. Disposable key cards cost between $3-10 per card and were built to be disposable. This means continued costs whenever new students arrive, or a card goes missing. Fobs cost anywhere from $5-50 per fob and require readers with extensive wiring and internal systems to manage. These devices also are not the most secure, as, like physical keys, the frequency they emit can be copied, and unauthorized personnel can gain access by tricking the system with fake credentials.

In Short…


Legacy access control requires a continued investment of money to create new copies of keys, as well as payments for maintaining it…. Yet despite this continued investment, it cannot guarantee the safety of students or campus buildings, and it costs the university even more money when issues with security arise.

How Geokey Changes the Game and Saves You Money

This is where Geokey can step in and give universities the access control solution they need to secure their property, keep their students safe, and increase their own NOI through it.

No more Physical Keys

Universities won’t have to worry about keeping track of, copying, distributing, or retrieving every single physical key ever again. Geokey takes the student's smartphone and can turn it into the only key they will ever need, creating a unique key that can only be utilized on that specific device. The student then needs to be within the geofence of the device they wish to open, and with a few taps, they can unlock the door and access their space. It is safer for the student and more convenient than managing a ring of keys and fobs on top of a student ID.

It also brings safety and convenience to the university. Geokeys can be remotely scheduled and sent out to desired recipients from the Geokey portal. On move-in day, the student is automatically sent the key and can access their dorm or housing unit: no long first-day lines or scramble to get that little packet of keys. On the flip side, geokey access can be seamlessly and remotely revoked by the administration, whether that’s during room checkout at the end of a semester or because of a potential security issue.

Key Accountability

University staff will never have to worry about losing track of keys or having them stolen again. Geokey is tied directly into the student's phone, giving each user a unique credential, which the university can use to see who accesses a door and when. If someone’s phone is stolen, the university won’t have to worry about paying to change out locks or manually program credentials into the door hardware. With a few clicks in the portal, that student’s phone access is automatically revoked, meaning no one can access the space who doesn’t have permission.

Increase Your NOI

Geokey cuts out all the costs associated with managing legacy access control and gives universities a smart solution that gives them better property control. On top of this, smart access control like Geokey can be viewed as an amenity for students, giving them an integrated system that makes their stay more secure and convenient.

To show how Geokey is able to do this, we ran some numbers. According to a 2022 NMHC/Grace Hill survey on amenity preferences, younger residents would be willing to pay between $20-50 for smart technology integration within their unit. Based on a Public 4 Year School room estimation, if we add the $45 value for Geokey, the yearly room payment for a student comes to about $11,925 ($1,325 a month multiplied by the standard 9-month school year). A standard dorm building on campus houses about 70 students spread out across 35 rooms. If the university adds that $45 value per student, they can receive as much as $834,750 Annually for the full 70 Student Dorm. If the university increases Room costs by $45 per room, charging each student an extra $23, they can receive $417,375 annually for the full 70 Student Dorm.

Geokey wants to do more than keep your property secure: we want to present an integrated access control system that improves the lives of students and faculty, all while helping increase the university NOI and decreasing lock-related expenses. We believe Geokey can revolutionize student housing and would love to show you why we think this. Check out our new student housing page to learn more about what we are doing to innovate in the student housing industry.

Geokey Marketing Team
Geokey Marketing Team
GeoKey Blog

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