First-year housing for new college studentsSuzanne Shaffer
Moving off campus is an exciting rite of passage. The transition brings valuable independence and responsibilities, but challenges, too.
Parents and students alike want to secure a safe, clean, convenient and affordable place, and students are much more likely to have a successful housing search if they go about it the right way.
Here are five essential steps in the search process!
Before students start looking (unless they are funding their housing 100%), it’s important to have a family conversation about what the family can afford for rent, utilities and other living costs. Even for students who are paying their own way, parents can be a helpful sounding board because they have more experience managing these types of expenses.
Good news: Students enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program can use 529 college savings account funds for off-campus housing expenses. But not necessarily the full amount — the college or university determines the allowable off-campus-room-and-board figure. Contact the Financial Aid office to find out what it is.
This may be the first legal document students have encountered. It’s very important to review it carefully. Parents and guardians should take a close look, too (even if they are not required to co-sign).
The roommate(s) will do this when signing the lease. Make notes and take photos, paying special attention to stains on the ceiling, holes in the walls, a cracked bathroom sink, etc. so that, if there is a dispute at the end of the lease, you can prove your case and get the security deposit back.
Renters insurance is a must for students living off campus. Personal belongings will not be covered by a parent's homeowners policy or the landlord’s insurance. Renters insurance is affordable — typically less than $20 a month — and will cover the loss of possessions in case of fire, flood or theft. Renters insurance also provides protection if a student accidentally damages another person’s property or if someone is injured in their apartment or house.
Adapted from an article by Wendy Redal with contributions by Suzanne Shaffer and CollegiateParent staff.