Now that you are ready to start college after all the hard work and the challenges of admission, it’s time to think about other pressing problems such as where to live and how to pay for your housing, what are your campus rules and how to adjust to them in the best way possible.

There are two possible options: you either live on-campus or off-campus. Both options have their pros and cons; therefore, it’s up to you to decide which one is better for you. Many students choose the former, as living on campus makes life more convenient, but there are plenty of others who prefer to rent an apartment with fellow students off-campus.

In this article, we’ve prepared a list of the most popular questions that freshmen seek answers to regarding campus life and housing options.   

What does Campus Mean?

A campus is a piece of land where a university or college is located with all its buildings and grounds. Depending on the size of the university, the grounds can be pretty impressive. Typically, one can find academic spaces, administrative spaces, libraries, lecture halls, housing facilities, student centers, dining halls, parks, and recreational areas on the territory of a college campus.

Are Freshmen Required to Live On Campus?

No. There is no such rule or requirement that first-year students should live on campus only. Many freshmen students do choose to live on campus because it is closer to all the amenities and university resources. It’s also the place to make friends and meet many new people. Besides, some colleges have no dormitories for students on their grounds; therefore, all students live off-campus.

Does FAFSA Check if You Live Off-Campus?

No. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is provided for covering your college attendance, which includes housing; therefore, there is no difference whether a student lives on or off-campus. The latter won’t affect their financial aid eligibility.

Is It Cheaper to Live On or Off-Campus?

While living off-campus may seem like a less expensive option, it may turn out to be quite the opposite. Depending on the college location, the on-campus housing costs can be even more affordable than all the off-campus housing and living costs combined. If you add all sorts of expenses that you’ll have while renting an apartment off-campus, such as utilities, cell phone bills, transportation costs, and so on, the overall cost may be way higher. You can reduce it by sharing the apartment with other students; still, it may not be the solution worth the bother.

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What Is Off-Campus Housing?

Off-campus housing means living in a house or an apartment that is located outside the campus grounds and doesn’t belong to the college. It may be a shared house or apartment where several students live to reduce the cost of the rent. Most commonly, senior and graduate students choose this option as they may prefer more privacy or just want to have their own place.

Does Financial Aid Cover Off-Campus Housing?

Yes. According to the rules of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the financial aid received by a student can be used to cover the overall cost of studying as well as room and board, which includes off-campus housing. If you initially plan to live off-campus, you can include it in your financial aid application so that your college can adjust the amount of your financial aid more accurately.

The amount of room and board costs for the 2021-2022 school year is expected to be approximately $16,304. A student financial aid package is based on the cost of attending a particular college or university; therefore, aid amounts will vary.

How to Pay for Off-Campus Housing with Student Loans?

If you have taken a student loan, you can use it to cover your room and board expenses, be it on- or off-campus housing. You simply take the money from your loan and pay your monthly rent for an apartment or a house you rent or for any form of residence you choose away from campus. There is no obligation for you to live on campus.

Are Campus Police Real Police?

Campus police in the U.S. are sworn police officers that a college or a university employs to protect their property and keep order on the grounds and all college territories. Technically, they are not the same as police; however, the scope of their powers differ depending on the state laws and whether the college or university is public or private. For instance, California law allows public university police officers to make arrests 24 hours a day, while officers of private colleges can do it while they are on duty only.

What Is a Dry Campus?

A college or university that bans any alcoholic beverages from the grounds is usually referred to as a “dry campus.” Technically, the school takes this attitude regardless of whether a student intends to drink on campus or somewhere else: there should be no alcohol at all times, not even at official events. Age is also irrelevant: if a campus is considered “dry,” the same rule applies to everyone, be it a student, a professor, or an administrative staff member.

Can Graduate Students Live On Campus?

The short answer is yes. However, many graduate students choose to live off-campus, as the number of on-campus dormitories for students usually exceeds the number of students willing to live in them, and those rooms are usually given to undergraduate students. Also, graduate students with families most often live off-campus, as they may require the entire house on their own.


We hope that this article helped you get the answers to your questions about on-campus and off-campus housing. Since going to college is the first opportunity for young people to live independently, the decision is not an easy one, and the choice does not always depend solely on the preferences of a student. However, whichever option you choose, we are sure that your student years will be unforgettable!