Housing Options at Penn State
No matter where you live, you are part of a diverse and vibrant community at Penn State. Let us help you explore the variety of on-campus housing options, find the best dining options, navigate the rental market and learn how to be a good neighbor.
Housing for your second year and beyond
I just got to Penn State, do I need to think about housing for next year already?
Many off-campus rental properties start to offer leases around October. Each landlord elects when to begin offering leases for the next year, so this will vary by property. Students interested in living on campus can request housing in October but do not have to decide until November when invitations are released to select a housing option.
Both processes continue through the semester and there are many options available on and off campus. You can be confident you’ll find a great place to live; your choice doesn't have to be rushed or uninformed.
Below you will find key information to consider when deciding which housing option is best for you as well as the timeline for the housing process. For information on specific types of housing, use the following links:
Six things to consider in making your housing choice
In making your decision, consider what you want in a living situation, from cost to flexibility to responsibility. Here are some of the different elements to consider when making your decision.
- Cost: A variety of price ranges are available on or off campus. Don’t forget to factor in any hidden fees, utilities, and the cost of food.
- Location: Depending on your preferences and needs, living on campus or off campus might be more suitable for you academically and socially.
- Community and Support: You will find vibrant communities on and off campus, but they are different. Think about what type of community you would like to be a part of. In addition, the University has many ways to support students living on and off campus.
- Amenities: Whether you are looking for your own bedroom and bathroom, a pool, or a quiet neighborhood, on- and off-campus living offer different things. Consider what’s important to you.
- Flexibility: Do you need housing over the summer? Are you planning a semester abroad? On-campus housing is offered for the academic year but allows for flexibility for students pursuing academic-related programs, while off-campus housing typically requires a 12-month lease.
- Responsibility: Living off-campus comes with a host of responsibilities that are beneficial for some students and a distraction for others.
Penn State's on-campus housing costs are generally similar to previous years' prices, with slight rate changes that are announced every spring. Room rates are all-inclusive, covering the cost of utilities and WiFi. There are no hidden fees. The Campus Meal Plan is required for all students living on campus and optional for students living in on-campus apartments.
The least expensive on-campus living option is a supplemental room and a double-occupancy room in a traditional residence hall. In contrast, the most expensive option is a single-occupancy room in Eastview Terrace.
With proximity to classes and school-sponsored events, like concerts and athletic events, nothing beats living on campus. Living on campus is a good fit if you like to stop by your room throughout the day, sleep a few extra minutes in the morning, or have a short walk home after clubs, sports, or activities.
- Community and Support
When asked why they live on campus, students talked about the unmatched sense of community, a feeling of Penn State pride, and meeting friends for life. With on-campus living, students can participate in regular activities, such as arts and crafts nights, end-of-year carnivals, or even floor-wide IM teams. On-campus living provides opportunities for student leadership through the various residence hall governments.
On-campus living also has a built-in support network for students. Students living in University Housing have an additional layer of support from the Residence Life, Housing, and Food Service staff. Your Resident Assistant (RA) is a great resource and the first stop for many students when they need a little extra help.
Upper-class students have more housing options available than first-year students: double-occupancy rooms in both traditional and renovated residence halls, single-occupancy rooms in traditional residence halls, single-occupancy rooms with private bathrooms in Eastview Terrace, two-person and four-person suites, supplemental housing, and on-campus apartments in Nittany and White Course.
You can enjoy easy access to quiet study rooms, community spaces, and dining without leaving your housing area. A short walk will get you to on-campus fitness centers, rec spaces, and additional dining options.
On-campus housing is a great option if you know that you only need to be on campus during the actual academic year. Even if you opt to stay at the University during the summer, on-campus housing offers flexibility by offering housing only when you need it, so you are not paying extra.
Break Access/Holiday Housing is available for students who cannot leave campus during fall break, winter vacation, or spring break. You’ll be assigned to a designated building that remains open during these closedown periods, so you have the convenience of staying in your room. There is an additional fee for this service, reach out to the Housing Assignment Office to discuss this option.
If you have plans to study abroad or take a semester off, on-campus housing allows flexibility for these situations, and you can cancel your Housing and Food Services Contract with no penalty.
If you want to focus on academics rather than cooking, cleaning, or taking out the trash then on-campus living may be for you. On-campus living provides students with a low-maintenance living option. You will not have to shovel snow or mow the lawn, which some off-campus housing may require. Penn State Housing staff handle the cleaning, basic maintenance, and other essential services.
Off-campus living options vary widely in price depending on location, size of living space, and the number of roommates. With off-campus housing, it’s also important to include other costs, such as utilities, food, transportation, and commute when considering the price of off-campus living options.
When looking at rental leases for apartments or houses, consider that most leases are paid in 12 equal installments and may include extra expenses such as application fees, amenity fees, ‘redecorating’ fees, or the cost of carpet cleaning, if that is required upon move out.
Off-campus living offers students more flexibility in choosing what type of area they would like to live in, a quiet complex located a bus ride away, or an apartment overlooking busy College Avenue. When researching off-campus options, consider how long it takes to get to campus for class or on-campus events, and whether you would walk, ride a bike, drive, or take the bus.
- Community and Support
The sense of community can vary greatly depending on where you live off-campus and the type of housing you select. If you want to meet new people and connect with your neighbors, consider that in your search. No matter where you live off-campus, you will be part of a vibrant State College community. You may live next door to young families, professionals, or elderly individuals. It’s important to be a good neighbor to people whose schedules and priorities may differ from yours.
The Off-Campus Student Support Office can connect off-campus students with resources and provide information to help students navigate the off-campus community.
Off-campus living offers nearly endless options for amenities. Want to come home to a pet-friendly apartment with a balcony? Or maybe you’d like to live in a community with a pool and hot tub with all your friends. Perhaps even a high-rise with an onsite fitness center. All are available with varying prices and terms.
Off-campus housing offers options, such as private bedrooms and bathrooms or shared living arrangements. Many complexes boast fitness centers, pools, community rooms, tanning beds, and more. Decide what’s important to you and how much you are willing to pay for those add-ons.
Unlike living on-campus, off-campus apartments and houses are typically 11 1/2-month leases. The year-round availability is an excellent perk for students with local internships in the summer or students who don’t plan to travel home over breaks.
With this perk also comes the responsibility of paying for the rent when you may no longer live there. If you plan to leave over the summer or complete a semester abroad, make sure to factor this into your decision.
With the freedom of living on your own off campus comes the responsibility of maintaining a rented property and adhering to a signed lease. You will be responsible for taking out the trash and cleaning the bathrooms. Some landlords will require tenants to assist with things such as snow removal or lawn mowing.
Understanding the housing process timeline
The on-campus (LiveOn) housing process is unified and administered by the University, so you'll find it has clear deadlines and procedures. The off-campus housing market consists of hundreds of private landlords and property managers. It is driven by market factors (the reason leases get signed in October is because consumers are willing to sign leases early to secure the spaces they want to have). The timeline and process for leasing are different for each property.
- Attend a housing information webinar in the Commons Building to learn more about how to decide which housing option may work best for you.
- Students who Requested Housing will receive an invitation through eLiving to view available on-campus housing options, select a space, invite friends, and accept the Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contract.
- Students who Requested Housing will receive an invitation through eLiving to view available housing options, select a space, invite roommates, and accept the Housing and Food Services (HFS) Contract.
- Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contract offers are made for sorority chapter members.
- Request Housing in Living will close.
- Many off-campus housing options are filling up, but there is still availability. Check in with Off-Campus Student Support if you are having trouble finding housing.
- Housing and Food Services contract offers are made for on-campus housing waitlist students.
Student Legal Services offers free lease reviews; take advantage of that service to ensure you understand the contract before signing. If you are considering moving off campus, get more information on tenants’ rights and responsibilities with an on-demand educational module.
Want to learn more?
Check out these webinars. You'll learn about on-campus and off-campus housing, timelines, resources, and more.
I'm interested in living on campus
Students who want to continue living on campus in their second year will be able to participate in the LiveOn Housing Process and Request Housing to receive an invitation to view available housing options. Every student who is interested in living on campus will be able to select a space! Take your time and review the process and options using the links below.
I am interested in living off-campus
The Office of Off-Campus Student Support offers resources and services to help support students who are living or planning to move off campus. You can even contact the office for a consultation if you are unsure if living off campus is right for you. Remember, many apartments still have openings as late as January or February, so you can take your time.
I am thinking about joining a fraternity or sorority and want to live within that community
The University provides on-campus housing in South Halls for many of the Panhellenic Association (PHC) Sorority Chapters. Many Interfraternity Council (IFC) Fraternity Chapters have off-campus housing options that are owned and operated by alumni from each organization. Students can learn more about the fraternity and sorority housing options on the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life's website.
Students considering joining a sorority or fraternity should expect to live within the chapter's community (South Halls for sororities and the chapter's off-campus facility for fraternities) for the entire academic year during their first year of membership, so it is important to think about these options as you make your housing decision.
- If you know you want to live on campus next year, regardless of the fraternity/sorority recruitment process, you should participate in the LiveOn Housing Process.
- If you only want to live on campus if you receive a bid from a sorority, you should not sign a lease or Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contract until you complete the process and accept your bid.
The LiveOn Housing Process in eLiving for on-campus housing stays open through mid-February, so you will have time to make your decision based on receiving a bid to join one of the fraternity or sorority communities. However, if you want to live on campus, you should act quickly after bid day to make sure you Request Housing by February 15.