Housing Assistance For Students

How to pay for housing in college
How to pay for housing in college


Paying for housing while in school is a major expense, but grants and scholarships can be used to help students cover this cost. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to get awards from the federal government, and look for options from your state and college to help pay for student housing.

College students struggle with paying for school and maintaining a reasonable quality of life. That’s why several housing programs have been developed to help college students secure housing they can afford.

What Grants Help With College Student Housing?

Federal grants, state grants, and institutional grants may be applied to cover the cost of college housing for college students. Private funds, such as the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship, may also be used to pay for student housing.

FAFSA® Awards

Complete the FAFSA® to receive financial aid from the government. The application process is simple and can be completed in an afternoon. The FAFSA® gives you access to Pell Grants (up to $6,895 for the 2022–23 award year), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (up to $4,000), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants (up to $4,000), and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants (up to $5,920). All of these can be used for housing.

State Aid Awards

You may receive additional grants and scholarships from your state of residence. In California, for example, you can apply for Cal Grants when you submit your FAFSA®. These awards go to high school seniors who will attend a California University. Check with your school’s financial aid department to see what state grants are available and whether you’re eligible to apply.

Institutional Awards

Your school may also offer grants and scholarships to help cover student housing. For example, Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan offers grants up to $4,000 specifically for housing to students in need. Again, you’ll need to check with your financial aid department to learn more about these opportunities, whether you’re eligible, and how you can apply.

Emergency Housing Assistance

In cases where you risk losing your housing or being unable to continue your education because you can’t afford a place to live, you can reach out to emergency housing services for assistance. For example, Catholic Charities — a nonprofit and the fifth-largest charity in the United States — provides emergency housing assistance through one-time financial aid. This can be used to pay rent or mortgage. United Way 211 is another resource you can use if you need emergency help with paying for housing.

Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD)

HUD understands that students are disproportionately at risk of experiencing housing insecurity and when it comes to finding affordable housing times are tough. That’s why they’ve developed a few select programs to help college students that are struggling to pay for housing while trying to finish their education.

HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program leverages “significant public and private dollars to support locally driven strategies that address housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation.” What does that mean for you?

That means that HUD is trying to revitalize neighborhoods in certain, mostly low-income neighborhoods by providing more desirable places for students to live.

Vouchers & Programs for College Students

Voucher programs and public housing assistance can help low-income students find places to live. The voucher program, also known as HUD’s Section 8, allows individuals who make 50 percent of the median income in the area to live in any home where a landlord accepts these vouchers.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has a public housing program where you’ll pay a percent of your income for rent. You must make less than 50 percent of the median income to participate in this program, too.

Note that these programs often have long waiting lists. If you qualify and need student housing assistance, apply as soon as possible. It’s also important to note that some college students will not qualify for these programs.

There are dozens of awards and programs available to help you pay for college. Take advantage of the FAFSA® in particular. Applying is free, and it will connect you with dozens of options for financial assistance.