Moving Off-Campus Sep13

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Moving Off-Campus

 • Beyond Freshman Year •

Has your student started to talk about moving out of the college dorm and living off-campus next year?  If so, it’s not too early for them to start making plans. In fact, it is not uncommon for college students to secure off-campus housing long before winter break, for the following school year. According to a recent USA Today article, students at some schools lock in their off-campus housing accommodations a full year in advance!

To determine whether living off-campus is a viable option financially, you’ll want to compare the costs for room and board on-campus with the going rate for living off-campus and be ready to co-sign a lease and pay a security deposit! Most leases run for a full year — including summer months — which means rent must be paid during the summer, even if your kid plans to be home with you. However, it’s very common for kids to sublet their places to students who are taking summer classes or working on or near campus. Just make sure the landlord allows subletting.

Some colleges and universities own off-campus apartments, making it simpler to secure housing through the residential/housing department on campus. (Check the school website for process and deadlines.) And there are other advantages – the college may still take care of maintenance and provide security. If your kid’s school does not own off-campus student housing, there are usually a variety of options for college students. Your student should easily be able to locate great rental houses and apartments by talking to upperclassmen, and searching online, on campus bulletin boards, and in local newspapers. (There’s also a site we stumbled upon,, which has listings near a limited number of campuses. We can’t vouch for them but see what you think.) Living in a frat house or sorority is another alternative to the college dorm for many kids who are involved in the Greek scene on campus.

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Make sure your student is aware of their school’s housing policies before they decide to move off-campus. At some schools, once college students move off-campus they may lose priority if they want to re-enter the on-campus housing lottery in subsequent years.

Let your kid take the lead on finding a place, but involve them early in the process with regard to financial and other considerations, including the added responsibility that comes with living off-campus. Specifically, you and your student should discuss the going monthly rent for houses or apartments in the area, the number of roommates and the cost per share, the cost of utilities, whether the place has laundry facilities (included or at extra cost), estimated food costs, furniture that may need to be purchased (like a bed!), and proximity to campus and whether they will need a car or other transportation to get to classes. They will also need to shop for groceries and prepare their own meals (unless they keep their campus meal plan), make payments to a landlord, keep the place clean and in decent condition, and communicate with the landlord about problems or maintenance needs.

When it comes to sharing costs among college roommates living off-campus, there is a cool new app called Venmo (created by two friends who met at University of Pennsylvania) that makes the process of paying and collecting a roommate’s share of the grocery and utility bills fast and easy. The app can be downloaded to any smartphone and allows users to send or receive funds using a bank account, supported debit card, or Venmo account for free!

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Unless each tenant has a separate lease agreement with the landlord, which is generally not the case, know that if you are a co-signer of the lease you can be held responsible for the balance of the rent if a roommate fails to pay, or for any damage caused by any of the other roommates. Encourage your student to make sure potential roommates are responsible and able to pay their share of rent and other expenses before agreeing to live together off-campus. 

Overall, moving off-campus can be a great growth experience for college students; it gives kids a real taste of what it’s like to live on their own. 


Want to know more?

Students locking into leases for next year’s housing by Jennifer Smola

Are You Ready to Move Off Campus? by Emily Driscoll (Fox Business News)

Great Housing Debate: Living On or Off Campus by Emily Driscoll (Fox Business News)


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