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Free Housing for College Students

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

College students, let me offer you a quick thought…have you ever thought of getting free housing? It’s really not that hard to do, and in no way are we talking about crime here. We’re covering legit ways for college students to find free housing for their school breaks.

College students always face a difficult problem regarding their housing . It is either they have to compromise on their college fees or have to compromise on the housing. In order to provide a solution to this problem, people have started offering free housing for college students and housing scholarships for college students .

cheap housing for college students

The cost of paying for college can be overwhelming with monthly housing costs, books, and supplies. College life is costly enough. Renting an apartment or house is most likely not your top priority when you are trying to balance all other bills and expenses. With a limited budget it is often hard to find a safe and affordable place for a student to rent. Students should look into any housing scholarship that could help with the extra expenses associated with going to college.

International Students Offered Free Housing | Voice of America - English

Because most college students are living away from home for the first time, it can be an extra burden to find an apartment to live in.

Therefore, there are several top housing programs available in the U.S for campus students who cannot afford housing expenses. This reduces both the cost and stress of college living.

#1 National Center for Homeless Education

The NCHE is based at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and partners with parents, schools, and service providers to ensure that homeless students have access to the education and resources they need to succeed.

So, the NCHE provides information about ongoing legislation, programs, and resources relevant to their needs on local, state, and national levels.

#2 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD works with community partners across the country to secure assistance for homeless youth and adult populations. Additionally, HUD devotes resources to facilitate collaborative efforts between homeless service providers and educational systems.

#3 United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

USICH aims to end and prevent homelessness in unaccompanied youth under the age of 25. This council is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to the homelessness epidemic.

#4 National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

NAEHCY works to eliminate the obstacles homeless students face while they are pursuing higher education. Its mission is to promote equity for students experiencing homelessness or housing instability. A scholarship fund exists to help students pursuing college degrees.

#5 Homes for Students of Higher Education

Homes for Students of Higher Education provides homeless students with care packages, shelter, and educational material to increase their awareness of the resources available in their communities.

#6 CTLaw Help

CTLaw Help is a network of legal professionals committed to providing free legal help to low-income citizens of Connecticut.

#7 is a search engine that allows students to find and access affordable housing in the US.

#8 Resident Life Offices

Recognizing the growing problem, more and more colleges now provide resources to help homeless students. For instance, Kennesaw State University’s Campus Awareness, Resource & Empowerment Services (CARES) provides year-round housing, temporary housing, a campus pantry stocked with both food and toiletries, one-to-one case management support, temporary work assignments, and scholarships to help students who previously experienced homelessness or are currently dealing with housing insecurity.

Why Are So Many Students Facing Homelessness?

Reasons for homelessness vary significantly and every family’s situation presents unique obstacles, but researchers have identified three main reasons for homelessness among potential college students.

Lack of Sufficient Income

Data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that four percent of all parents were unemployed in 2017. Although this number has decreased since the recession (peaking at eight percent in 2011), unemployment isn’t the only factor: the absence of a living wage also weighs heavily on families. Information from Family Promise shows that approximately 66 percent of poor children and those who either identify as homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless live in families where at least one parent works. Workers who earn less than $12 per hour working full-time still fall below the poverty line of $25,100 for a family of four.

Lack of Affordable Housing

The gap between minimum wage and the cost of housing has grown ever more expansive in recent years, while federal housing subsidies and the availability of affordable housing has decreased. Family Promise found that renters must earn an average of $21.21 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in America, while only three affordable housing rentals exist on the market for every 10 low-income families seeking a roof over their heads.

Family or Parental Conflict

Many homeless youth cite the inability to continue living at home with family or relatives as the reason they now find themselves in unstable housing situations. According to, most reasons center around a long-standing issue rather than one that pops up quickly, with examples including violence, neglect, physical or mental abuse, or severe conflict. For these children, homelessness often feels like the lesser of two evils. A study by Journeys Home found that 62 percent of homeless students stated that conflict or a family breakdown drove them from home.

student housing assistance grant application

On-campus student housing options include dorms, apartments, and learning communities. Although these options are located close to classrooms, dining halls, and other campus amenities, their prices exceed what some learners can pay. However, these degree-seekers need not live at home to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Alternative, affordable student housing options may exist, depending on the school and surrounding area.

The following sections highlight off-campus housing opportunities for learners on a budget. Topics include ways to save money, benefits of living off campus, and tips for finding the right living situation. This guide also details additional resources for prospective renters.

Off-Campus Options for Students

Learners who choose off-campus housing options can live alone or with roommates. Some students perform services for their landlord in exchange for discounted rent. Some colleges reserve housing for degree-seekers who demonstrate financial need. Learners can consult an admissions advisor for information about their school’s options.

Renting Your Own Apartment

Although more expensive than other options, renting an apartment allows individuals to live alone and explore various housing opportunities. Students renting an apartment by themselves must typically put down a security deposit and submit to a credit check. Some landlords also require a criminal background check.

Renting With Roommates

Renting with roommates lowers student housing costs significantly. Students with roommates often rent apartments and houses they could not afford by themselves. However, learners with roommates have less privacy and may need to deal with situations such as one roommate not paying rent on time.

Trade Work for Rent

To obtain affordable student housing, learners sometimes trade work for a rent reduction. This work may involve looking after pets, maintaining a lawn or garden, and performing maintenance for other tenants. Learners with heavy course schedules may experience difficulty maintaining their grades and performing work for their landlord.

Off-Campus University Housing

Some colleges and universities maintain off-campus housing. These options typically feature lower rent costs than comparable apartments, along with close proximity to campus. However, schools may require tenants to abide by a curfew and not invite overnight guests. Some colleges and universities limit this housing option to graduate students and learners with a spouse or children.

Renting Off Campus

Renting off-campus housing features advantages including privacy and independence. Many apartment complexes attract tenants by offering amenities such as a gym, pool, and clubhouse. Other conveniences may include in-unit laundry, security guards, and the latest appliances. Learners researching off-campus student housing should consider their needs before touring apartments or homes.

Renters typically sign a lease describing the rent, the renters’ and landlord’s responsibilities, and relevant state laws. Learners searching for affordable student housing usually focus on properties offering a 12-month lease, which tend to have more affordable rates than those with shorter leases. Choosing a 12-month lease also helps students improve their credit and develop a positive relationship with their landlord.

In addition to amenities and rent payments, students should consider location when choosing an apartment or home. Choosing housing far from campus may cost less but result in stressors that can affect grades and personal relationships.

housing scholarships for college students

As a college student, the tuition fee is not the only charge that you will have to afford. In addition to tuition fees, you will find other extraordinary expenses allied with college as well. One of the major expenses affiliated with college is lodging expenditures. 

A survey shows that the students who choose to dwell on-campus at the University of Oklahoma have to pay a monthly housing cost of 1,221 US Dollars.

And the figures keep on increasing. At the University of Virginia, annual on-campus room and board costs doubled over a span of 26 years from $4000 to $8000. 

And the conditions of off-campus housing costs do not get any better. Even though the rent may seem a bit light on the pocket, auxiliaries, like utilities, parking, laundry, and the like stack up to be no better than on-campus residence cost.

10 Best Housing Programs Available for College Students:-

For students living far away from home for the first time, even the thought of renting and living alone in an apartment all by themselves may seem quite daunting. To help reduce both the stress and the cost of residence accommodations, there are a number of student housing programs initiated in the US. 

Here is a brief overview of some of the best housing programs for students who cannot afford the hefty amount of housing expenditures.

Quick navigation of the best housing programs for college students in the US:-

Federal Grants for Paying College Housing:

  • Pell Grant
  • Academic Competitiveness Grant
  • National SMART Program
  • Montgomery GI Bill

Following are the complete details on Federal grants for paying college housing:-

#1 FAFSA:-

FASFA or the Free Application for Federal Students Aid is a form provided by the US Department of Education, which gives worthy students access to a number of grants and loan programs. 

This simple form gives colleges and universities a clear picture of students’ financial positions and needs so that they can assess whom to give grants and whose request, to decline.

#2 Pell Grant:-

The federal Pell Grant program is the largest grant program for worthy students. This program provides unaccompanied students with help in paying off their tuition fees and housing expenses.

The upper limit of financial assistance by the Pell Grant is up to $5,500 per year.

#3 Academic Competitiveness Grants:-

The AGC is a merit-based financial assistance program that accommodates first and second-year students who maintain rigorous academic records during high school and college.

#4 National SMART Program:-

A notch above the Academic Competitiveness Grants comes to the Science and Math Access to Retain Talent program. This program accommodates potential third and fourth-year students who are enrolled in science, math, engineering, and other technical curriculums.

The SMART program advances an estimate of $1300 per year towards tuition and housing expenses.

#5 Montgomery GI Bill:-

For soldiers, the military service has initiated the Montgomery GI Bill program. This is one of the oldest federal educational assistance programs which facilitates qualified veterans with their housing, tuition, textbooks, and other college-related course materials and expenses.

State Institutional Grants for Paying College Housing:

Following are the complete details on State Institutional grants for paying college housing:-

  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • National Centre for Homeless Education
  • Homes for Students of Higher Education
  • United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
  • CT Law Help
  • National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
  • CARES Program
  • LIM College Housing Grants
  • Youngstown State University Housing Grants.

#6 US Department of Housing and Urban Development:-

Also known as the HUD, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development caters to the residential needs of homeless youth and adults alike.

Not only does the HUD work with community partners across the country, but also contributes resources to enable collaborative efforts between homeless service providers and educational systems.

#7 National Centre for Homeless Education:-

Based at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the NCHE cohorts with parents, homeless service providers, and schools to ensure that unaccompanied students have proper access to all the resources they need to carry out their education smoothly- including residence.

In addition to this, the NCHE also provides up-to-date information about ongoing legislation, programs, and resources that may be required to cater to their needs on all levels, including local, state, and national.

#8 Homes for Students of Higher Education:-

The Homes for Students of Higher Education, as the name suggests, is a housing program that caters to the needs of college and university students in particular. 

This organization provides students with care packages, shelter, and educational material with an aim to create an awareness of the various resources available in their communities.

#9 United States Interagency Council on Homelessness:-

The USICH is a body, responsible to synchronize the Federal government’s response to the rampantly increasing matter of homelessness, particularly among college students.

It works to put an end to the epidemic of homelessness in unaided youth, under 25 years of age.

#10 CT Law Help:-

The lawyers and other legal workers of Connecticut have formed this organization known as the CT Law Help to provide legal assistance to the low-income citizens of Connecticut. 

This network of legal professionals renders their services, free of cost.

#11 National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth:-

The NAEHCY is an organization, working to establish equity between the students belonging to the upper class and those, belonging to the lower class. It works for those students, experiencing homelessness or housing instability, and provides them with such resources, which can help eliminate the obstacles in their academic careers.

The NAEHCY has also initiated a scholarship program to provide financial assistance to students at the college level.

#12 CARES Program:-

Putting their efforts in the cause of supporting those students who are facing troubles while pursuing higher education due to housing instability, a number of colleges have initiated support programs.

One such example is the Campus Awareness, Resource and Empowerment Services (CARES) program, initiated by Kennesaw State University. This program facilitates students by providing them with yearly or temporary housing, a campus pantry- fully stocked with food and toiletries, one-to-one management support as well as temporary work assignments to help them pursue higher education with ease of mind.

In addition to this, the CARES program also provides scholarships to those students who face the issue of housing instability.

#13 LIM College Housing Grants:-

For those worthy students studying business and fashion at the LIM College in New York City, the institution has initiated housing grants worth $1500 each per year. 

However, there is an eligibility requirement for the students to reside in the Third Avenue Residence Hall.

#14 Youngstown State University Housing Grants:-

Such unaccompanied students pursuing their degree from the Youngstown State University can benefit from the institution’s housing grant, provided that they live in university housing or courtyard apartments. 

Need-based awards are given for up to $2000 per year, while priority consideration is given to those students, whose families reside 30 miles from the university campus or more.

college student assistance program


A grant is a form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund, or you receive a TEACH Grant and don’t complete your service obligation). A variety of federal grants are available, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.


Many nonprofit and private organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for college or career school. This type of free money, which is sometimes based on academic merit, talent, or a particular area of study, can make a real difference in helping you manage your education expenses.

Work-Study Jobs

The Federal Work-Study Program allows you to earn money to pay for school by working part-time.


When you receive a student loan, you are borrowing money to attend a college or career school. You must repay the loan as well as interest that accrues. It is important to understand your repayment options so you can successfully repay your loan.

Aid for Military Families

There are special aid programs or additional aid eligibility for serving in the military or for being the spouse or child of a veteran.

Aid for International Study

Federal student aid may be available for studying at a school outside the United States, whether you’re studying abroad or getting your degree from an international school.

Aid and Other Resources From the Federal Government

Besides aid from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the federal government offers a number of other financial aid programs. These programs include

  • tax benefits for education;
  • education awards for community service with AmeriCorps;
  • educational and training vouchers for current and former foster care youth; and/or
  • scholarships and loan repayment programs through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health, and National Health Service Corps.

Federal student aid from ED covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid can also help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs; ask the schools you’re interested in whether they do!

Apply for federal student aid—grants, work-study, and loans—using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. And remember, the first F in “FAFSA” stands for “free”—you shouldn’t pay to fill out the FAFSA form!

Aid From Your State Government

Other than federal aid, you might be eligible for financial assistance from your state. Contact your state grant agency for more information.

Aid From Your College or Career School

Many schools offer financial aid from their own grant and/or scholarship funds. Find out what might be available to you:

  • Visit your school’s financial aid page on its website, or contact the financial aid office.
  • Ask at the department that offers your course of study; they might have a scholarship for students in your major.
  • Fill out any applications your school requires for its own aid programs, and meet your school’s deadlines.

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