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15 Best Housing Programs For College Students

The cost of housing while in school is a major expense. Although some students get financial aid from the federal government, there are also several housing programs to help college students with these expenses.

Housing programs specifically meet the unique needs of college students. This has emerged as a great housing option for students and their parents. It offers features such as leases tied to the academic calendar and furnished units that reduce the hassle associated with moving.

In this article, we’ll explore all you need to know about housing programs and grants and highlight the best housing programs for college students in 2023.

What Is Student Housing Program?

Student Housing or Purpose-Built Student Housing program refers to a subset of the residential real estate asset class. It is an apartment community for residents in higher education.

These communities offer amenities tailored to college students, such as individual leases, study areas, fully furnished units, and roommate matching. They’re typically located near a college campus and may offer unique residence life programs, for example, Students First™.

A key feature is that they employ students as community assistants, supporting their fellow student residents.

Will Student Loans Pay For Housing?

Many students who apply for federal financial aid seek answers to this critical question -will student loans pay for housing?

Federal student loans cover at least a portion of a student’s cost of housing. And this money may be applied to school-related expenses as a student deems fit. Individuals also decide how to apply for loan money for housing costs, tuition, textbooks, etc., at their discretion.

However, it is unlikely that federal student loans will cover the full cost of accommodation. Students generally have to find other means to close the gap. These may include taking out private loans, unsubsidized loans, borrowing money from family members, or holding a job while pursuing their degree.

See: 21 Full Scholarships To Pay Off Student Loans

Why Are So Many Students Facing Homelessness?

The reasons for homelessness vary in different families’ situations. However, researchers have identified three main reasons for homelessness among potential college students.

#1 Lack of Sufficient Income

Research 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, unemployment isn’t the only factor.

Information from Family Promise also shows that approximately 66 percent of poor children and those who either identify as homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless belong to families where at least one parent works.

#2 Lack of Affordable Housing

The gap between minimum wage and the cost of housing has grown ever more expansive in recent years. At the same time, federal housing subsidies and the availability of affordable housing have decreased. 

Family Promise discovered that renters must earn an average of $21.21 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in America. In the same vein, only three affordable housing rentals exist on the market for every 10 low-income families seeking a roof over their heads.

#3 Family or Parental Conflict

Most homeless youths cite the inability to remain at home with their families as the reason they are 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.

study by Journeys Home discovered that 62 percent of homeless students stated that conflict or a family breakdown drove them from home.

Various Ways College Students Can Apply For Housing Assistance

Homeless students represent an unrecognized and underserved population. This is large because of a gross misunderstanding of the true scope of the problem.

Not only that, one of the heaviest costs related to college costs is accommodation. So, it’s always a good idea for college students to find rental assistance programs. And also apply for housing grants.

Here are a few ways you can get housing assistance as a college student:

#1 Research All Federal Or State Grants

You may be eligible for a state grant if you attend a college or university within your state. For instance, in New Jersey, there’s the Educational Opportunity Fund. This is available to those who have an economic or educational disadvantage.

The money can be used for housing, books, a meal plan, and other college fees.

California residents can apply for the Cal Grant B Program. This offers a living allowance for any state university, community college, or qualifying career or technical school.

Also, college students might be eligible for several federal grants they can use toward housing. For example, students pursuing any teaching degree can qualify for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant.

READ ALSO: 10 Best Student Loans For Trade Schools | 2023

#2 Contact Catholic Charities

The best part is that you don’t have to be Catholic to take advantage of Catholic Charities’ rental assistance programs.

Some branches of the organization offer one-time help to anyone, including students at risk of becoming homeless.

The organization goes on to pay a security deposit. This also includes your first month’s rent, as well as any arrears you might have accumulated over the course of the last three months.

#3 Section 8 or 42 Housing Assistance

Depending on income and circumstances, college students could be eligible for either Section 8 or Section 42 housing assistance.

These college students’ housing programs are government-sponsored. So, you’ll need to apply at the public housing agency closest to the educational institution you plan to attend.

Generally, Section 42 requires individuals to have an income between 30 and 60 percent of the county’s average median income. Section 8 income requirements fall in the 30 to 50 percent range.

#4 Make a Net Wish

College students suffering from housing problems are welcome to make a wish on Net Wish. Requests may include assistance with both rent or security deposits.

Wishes are only granted for up to $200, but students can utilize this resource to help ease their financial burden.

#5 Apply to the Gradient Gives Back Foundation

Families that already have a home or are leasing an apartment but are finding it hard to keep up with the payments can seek assistance from the Gradient Gives Back Foundation.

The organization would make mortgage and lease payments on behalf of its recipients. Even though the foundation is based in Minnesota, you can apply while studying at any college in the United States.

#6 Become an RA

College students who plan on living in their college dorms can also apply to become a resident assistant, commonly known as an RA.

In exchange for promoting a community atmosphere, assisting fellow students, and monitoring the dorms, the resident assistants would be rewarded with a housing stipend.

Each college and university has GPA and credit completion requirements for RA applicants.

Also, see: Student Loans for Trade Schools in 2023 | Apply Now

Best Housing Programs Available For College Students

Because most college students are living away from home for the first time, finding an apartment can be an extra burden.

Therefore, several top housing programs are 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 local, state, and national needs.

Click for more information

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

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

Click for more information

#3 United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

USICH aims to end and prevent homelessness in unaccompanied youth under 25. This council coordinates the federal government’s response to the homelessness epidemic.

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

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

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#5 Homes for Students of Higher Education

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

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#6 CTLaw Help

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

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

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#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.

Also, see: 15 Best Student Loans For Masters degree In 2023 | Apply Now

How To Apply For Financial Aid/Housing Grants

First and foremost, students who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, and “unaccompanied” are eligible to receive student aid.

As a matter of fact, students are asked about their living status on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

According to the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association, an unaccompanied youth is a student under the age of 21 who “is not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.” A student at risk of being homeless is “self-supporting and has been evicted [and] is unable to find fixed, regular, and adequate housing.”

So, to prove that you are homeless, you must submit proper documentation. Homeless college students can secure this designation from their high school or school district representative, the director of an emergency/transitional shelter or housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or a runaway or homeless youth center.

However, suppose a student cannot receive a homeless youth determination from any of the above sources. In that case, he can still submit his FAFSA and seek a determination from his college’s financial aid administrator.

Also, suppose students who wish to complete a FAFSA with unaccompanied and homeless status are no longer youths. In that case, they can apply without parental information and then request a dependency status appeal through the financial aid office at their school.

Students interested in obtaining more information about their dependency status can contact the Office of Federal Student Aid or read FAFSA tips for unaccompanied youth without stable housing.

Housing Grants Available For Colleges Students

As discussed earlier, several housing grants are available for college students to help cover the cost of housing.

#1 FAFSA® Awards

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form every college student fills out if they hope to receive grants, loans, or work-study funding from the federal government.

So, complete the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to receive financial aid from the government. The application process is simple and can be completed quite easily.

These funds can help pay off the final cost of housing and ensure learners avoid significant student debt, so applying is a critical step in college.

However, filling it out as a homeless learner, a student living in foster care, or a degree seeker in any other special circumstance isn’t as easy as it is for those with permanent homes, but it can still be done.

The FAFSA® gives you access to Pell Grants (up to $6,195), 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.

How To Apply For FAFSA

  • Visit
  • When completing the application, students identifying as homeless should indicate that they fall into the “special circumstances” category, meaning they cannot provide financial information about their parents.
  • When prompted, answer the following question: “At any time on or after July 1, 2018, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at the risk of being homeless?”
  • Answer the following two questions that seek clarification about who made the determination.
  • From there, a FAFSA representative reviews the application. They will contact you for proof of determination via a report copy.
  • If you haven’t been deemed homeless but feel your situation merits additional considerations, contact the financial aid department at the institution you plan to attend and explain your circumstances. The school can then decide whether you are regarded as independent or dependent.

#2 State Awards

You can receive additional grants and scholarships from your state of residence. In California, for instance, you can apply for Cal Grants when you submit your FAFSA®.

These awards go to high school seniors who will attend a California University. Verify with your school’s financial aid department to see what state grants are available and whether you’re eligible to apply.

#3 Institutional Awards

Your school may also offer grants and scholarships to help cover housing. Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, for instance, 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.

Also, see: What Are Subsidized And Unsubsidized Student Loans?

#4 Emergency Housing

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. 

United Way 211 is another resource you can use if you need emergency help paying for housing.

College students can also apply for the Section 8 program.

To be eligible for housing programs/grants, you must prove that you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and “unaccompanied.”

If you’re wondering whether you can rent student housing if you’re not a student, the answer is “maybe.” There is no universal policy regarding non-students living in student housing.

Most times, parents normally cover rent payments. It’s usually safe to rent to college students.

FAQs on the Housing Programs for College Students

Will Student Loans Pay For Housing?

Federal student loans cover at least a portion of a student’s cost of housing. However, it is unlikely that federal student loans will cover the full cost of accommodation.
Students generally have to find other means to close the gap. These may include taking out private loans, unsubsidized loans, borrowing money from family members, or holding a job while pursuing their degree.

Why are so many students facing homelessness?

The reasons for homelessness vary in different families’ situations. They may include:
#1. Lack of Sufficient Income
#2. Lack of Affordable Housing
#3. Family or Parental Conflict

How Can College Students Apply For Housing Assistance?

Here are a few ways you can get housing assistance as a college student:
#1. Research All Federal Or State Grants
#2. Contact Catholic Charities
#3. Section 8 or 42 Housing Assistance
#4. Make a Net Wish
#5. Apply to the Gradient Gives Back Foundation
#6. Become an RA

What are the Best Housing Programs Available for College Students?

There are several top housing programs available in the U.S for campus students who cannot afford housing expenses, including
#1 National Center for Homeless Education
#2 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
#3 United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
#4 National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
#5 Homes for Students of Higher Education
#6 CTLaw Help
#8 Resident Life Offices

Housing Grants Available For Colleges Students

There are several housing grants available for college students to help cover the cost of housing, including
#1 FAFSA® Awards
#2 State Awards
#3 Institutional Awards
#4 Emergency Housing


Housing is a major expense while studying in college. That’s why there are several housing programs and grants for college students. To access housing grants, you need to submit proper documentation. The application is free and will connect you with dozens of options for financial assistance.

So, we have explored the various available housing programs for college students in 2023.

Good Luck!


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Mbagwu Amarachi Chilaka
Mbagwu Amarachi Chilaka
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