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This is more of a general question, as I realize each university will have specific guidelines. I'm applying to master's programs this fall, still narrowing down the schools. For a few of the possibilities, I'd prefer to live on campus. I'm an older single student who would prefer to live alone. I also like the convenience of having all utilities included without worrying about separate deposits. 

The schools I'm considering have limited graduate housing and deposits and applications seem to be due in the fall semester for the next year. So how does one sign up for graduate housing if they 1. don't know if they're accepted yet and 2. no idea of funding? Do you risk a deposit after you get your acceptance if you haven't heard about funding yet? Will some schools hold graduate housing until April funding notification dates? Obviously people will be cycling out as they graduate. 

As I narrow my list, I'll contact those specific schools, but I'd like to get a sense of how this has worked for others. Thanks. 

 

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1 hour ago, NotAlice said:

This is more of a general question, as I realize each university will have specific guidelines. I'm applying to master's programs this fall, still narrowing down the schools. For a few of the possibilities, I'd prefer to live on campus. I'm an older single student who would prefer to live alone. I also like the convenience of having all utilities included without worrying about separate deposits. 

The schools I'm considering have limited graduate housing and deposits and applications seem to be due in the fall semester for the next year. So how does one sign up for graduate housing if they 1. don't know if they're accepted yet and 2. no idea of funding? Do you risk a deposit after you get your acceptance if you haven't heard about funding yet? Will some schools hold graduate housing until April funding notification dates? Obviously people will be cycling out as they graduate. 

As I narrow my list, I'll contact those specific schools, but I'd like to get a sense of how this has worked for others. Thanks. 

 

I lived off campus during my MA and will do so also during my PhD. However, I did an exchange during undergrad and had to wait for a signup day because I was accepted for the exchange after the first round of room picks. Some universities will give you a link to grad student housing after you apply. When I investigated those links, I learned that if I was admitted and wanted grad housing, I had to get on a waitlist and some lists were as long as 2-3 years out. So I figured out quickly, before I ever received admission for this fall, that wherever I went, I would be living off campus and started saving every penny to put towards rental and utility deposits. The English Dept where I will be located gave each new incoming grad student a list of organizations, where we might be able to find housing. I was actually contacted by a graduating grad student in the department, when I posted my need on the dept gso list-serv. His landlord was a former English professor and the house was only a few blocks from campus. We talked on several occasions and I ended up with a house. There are usually FB pages too. I see huge numbers of sublets and requests for roommates. In the case of sublets, students are usually trying to get rid of their rental at greatly reduced rates over what the complexes charge. Many universities have apartment complexes nearby that put roommates together and charge "by the room/bath." Just have to be careful to state you want to live with other grad students so you don't end up in the animal house party apartment. Overall, finding housing was relatively easy. Now I'm packing for the move at the end of the month--not so easy! Good luck.

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As you said, this differs from school to school. Here's a data point for you. For my PhD school, the on-campus grad student housing is guaranteed for all first year grad students. I think the cutoff date to save yourself a spot in housing is April 30. There's enough spots for every new grad student, however, most of these spots are in shared living apartments. It's usually 4 bedrooms (for 4 people total) with a shared living room, kitchen, and 2 bathrooms. There are also 2 bedrooms (for 2 people total) with 1 shared bathroom. And there are a small amount of single room units (what you are looking for). These are very limited in number, but since they cost a lot more than the other units, supply and demand are about equal. For 2nd year and above grad students, you can also enter the housing lottery by April 30. After all of the new students are allocated, the remaining spots are granted to the returning grad students on a lottery system. Overall, including the new first years each year, about 1/3 of all grad students on campus are able to live in on-campus grad student housing. These units are especially convenient for your first year because 1) they are fully furnished, 2) utilities and such are all included so you don't need credit to set up (or pay huge deposits) and 3) you know you have a spot so you don't have to worry about signing a lease before you start school. It's also great for international students moving to the US for the first time. Many students will find their own housing for 2nd year and beyond, and it's a lot easier to do so when you're here for about a year.

My PhD school also offered off-campus grad student housing. These are generally unfurnished, so it's just like renting except the school is your landlord. Instead of a lottery based system, it's a waitlist system. Every month, available units go out to everyone on the list and there's a few days where you can check out a key and take a look at the place. If you like it, you indicate your interest. The highest ranked person that indicated interest for a particular unit will be offered it---if they change their mind, it goes to the next person on the list. Your rank on the list is determined by the date you signed up for the list. Typically, due to high interest in these places, you will have to be on the list for about a year before you can have a good shot at a unit that opens up. There's also a limit of 2 years living in these properties to ensure everyone gets a chance (the rent in these properties are something like 50% of market rate, so it's very affordable). Like the on-campus options, the utilities are all included so that's convenient. Unlike the on-campus options, it's a monthly rolling placement type of thing, so you can apply at any time. 

Hope that gives you some useful information about how some schools might conduct their housing for grad students. One thing to note though: my PhD school is a very small school and there are more grad students on campus than undergrads. It's also located in a very expensive place to rent, so there is special emphasis on creating as much housing for graduate students as possible. I know many other schools do not have very many options for grad students at all (with the expectation that we'll live off campus) and/or prioritize their housing for undergrads (at my PhD school, the undergrad population was small enough that about 85% of all undergrads have a spot in on-campus housing, so they are able to have a lot of housing options for both undergrad and grads).

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1 hour ago, TakeruK said:

One thing to note though: my PhD school is a very small school and there are more grad students on campus than undergrads. It's also located in a very expensive place to rent, so there is special emphasis on creating as much housing for graduate students as possible. I know many other schools do not have very many options for grad students at all (with the expectation that we'll live off campus) and/or prioritize their housing for undergrads (at my PhD school, the undergrad population was small enough that about 85% of all undergrads have a spot in on-campus housing, so they are able to have a lot of housing options for both undergrad and grads).

That's true Takeruk. I applied primarily to large flagship state universities and the one I ended up at has a student population of over 37,000. I think rent is reasonable, but in the humanities, stipends are lower, so I'm fortunate to have outside income and can afford to live alone. The one private school I applied to has options similar to what you discuss, but their shared cost was almost as high as renting off-campus and living alone--$1,000 a month (shared grad student apartments) compared to $1,000-$1,200 per month (living alone) in the surrounding area.

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4 hours ago, cowgirlsdontcry said:

That's true Takeruk. I applied primarily to large flagship state universities and the one I ended up at has a student population of over 37,000. I think rent is reasonable, but in the humanities, stipends are lower, so I'm fortunate to have outside income and can afford to live alone. The one private school I applied to has options similar to what you discuss, but their shared cost was almost as high as renting off-campus and living alone--$1,000 a month (shared grad student apartments) compared to $1,000-$1,200 per month (living alone) in the surrounding area.

Yikes. The shared cost was about $700/month (in a 4-person share), $800/month (2-person share) or $1200/month (single). The market rate for a 1-bedroom is around $1700/month, however, most people choosing to live off-campus will still share, averaging around $700-$900 per person per month if you share a 2+ bedroom place or house. The off-campus unfurnished properties are super popular because we paid $900/month for a 2-bedroom place all to ourselves. Sure, the location isn't ideal and the place was a little run-down, but we were paying less than half of the market rate. We saved that money for the future, where we won't be so lucky to have such a good deal!

The rent prices of the city we lived in was so bad that we were actually able to successfully ask the school to raise everyone's stipends (University-wide) by $2000 per year because rent prices were outpacing stipend growth (at that time, the average 1 bedroom rent rose by $400 in 4 years (almost $5000/year) while minimum stipends on campus only went up by $2000. And we were not even in the worst housing market in the US (i.e. not the Bay area).

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I'm not sure what other schools offer, but a student in my MA program was able to get housing on campus and funding by working as a Residential Director. It seemed like a fairly time-consuming gig, but it might be a good way to save money. 

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Thanks everyone, this gives me a better idea of the options available. The housing I've looked at has varied from ~$500 to ~$1000/month, mostly not extremely high COL areas. 

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On 7/5/2017 at 1:18 PM, anxiousgrad said:

I'm not sure what other schools offer, but a student in my MA program was able to get housing on campus and funding by working as a Residential Director. It seemed like a fairly time-consuming gig, but it might be a good way to save money. 

My School has some vacancies as Residential Advisor with free housing perks. But the workload is estimated at 20 hours a week. There seems to be a high staff turnover. People say that most MA students would be better off to work the same hours as research or admin assistant and pay rent in a share.

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