VCU can assist students with finding off-campus housing through the Off-Campus Student Services website. On this site, students can look for available properties posted by local property managers, create a profile to find roommates, sublet their current apartment, and find resources for the housing search, signing a lease, budgeting and more.
Upcoming events for students moving off campus:
Off-Campus Student Services will host several events throughout the Spring semester for students who may be moving off campus for the summer or fall . These workshops cover many important topics including a Housing Fair, Renter’s Workshops, Budget Workshops, Roommate Mixers and more. For more details on times and locations of these events, please refer to the right-side panel on the Off-Campus Student Services website.
Some things to consider before signing a lease:
For many students, this may be their first time looking for a place of their own. It’s an exciting time to think about branching off independently, but it’s important for students to know what questions to ask before signing a lease. There are several standard questions listed below, but visit the Off-Campus Student Services Resource page for more in depth information on looking for preparing for the housing search, creating a budget, moving in and more.
What type of lease is it?
There are many types of leases. Some can be 3-months, 6-months, 9-months, a year or longer. If a student is planning to stay around the university during the summer months as well, it’s a good idea to make sure the lease extends through that time. Some places will offer individual leases, while others will offer joint leases. If there are multiple people on a lease, it’s important for students to recognize that they are all equally responsible for making sure the rent is paid on time.
How much can I afford?
Students can use financial aid to pay for off campus expenses, however, they will only receive a refund if there is an excess in their financial aid award. For example, if a student’s award covers their VCU tuition and fees, they can then receive the excess in a refund and use it for rent and other living expenses. (For example, if a package is $20,000, the money would be split up into two payments, one for fall and one for the spring. So they would get $10,000 a semester. VCU would take out roughly $7,000 for tuition and fees and then give a deposit of $3,000 to the student).
Refunds are not disbursed by VCU until September and January, if all deadlines were met, thus they will need to plan ahead to cover their housing costs until the refund is deposited into their account.
Please note that if a package includes $2,000 for Work Study, that money you will have to earn by applying for and working at a Work Study job for 10+ hours a week throughout the year.
For more details, please contact Financial Aid at 804.828.6669 or http://finaid.vcu.edu/.
What utilities/amenities do I really need?
Rent does not always include utilities. The types of utilities included in the cost of rent varies on a place-by-place basis. Some rental agreements will cover water, sewer and trash in the cost of rent, but not electricity and internet/cable. Some will offer no utilities, while some rental properties include all utilities and additional amenities in the cost of rent.
Before you sign on the dotted line find out what’s included with rent and what you need. Will you need a parking spot for a car? Will you use a 24-hour access gym on site? Is there security in the building? If utilities are not included, is there an estimate for the total monthly costs?
What are the upfront costs?
Application fees, security deposits and pet deposits are some of the upfront fees students can expect when renting an apartment. Students should ask about the refund policy of security deposits. Can their application fee be applied to their deposit if they get accepted into the building? What would be cause for them not to get their security deposit back?
Do I need a cosigner?
Landlords will require proof of income as an assurance that tenants will be able to pay their rent. This can sometimes be a challenge for students and a landlord might require a cosigner, when signing a lease. It’s important to talk to any landlord or leasing office about their cosigner policies.