The fire was reported shortly after 9:30 p.m. Monday at Southeast Community College. No injuries have been reported.
Beatrice Fire Capt. Jeff VanWinkle says most of the damage was caused when a sprinkler system activated.
Investigators say a resident of the apartment had begun heating some cooking oil but then left the apartment to visit another student. VanWinkle says the oil caught fire. Flames spread to cabinets and a vent above the stove.
VanWinkle says some students went to a local motel because of the hall damage, which was estimated at between $25,000 and $30,000.