Skip to main content


  • Am I supposed to live on campus or off campus next year?

Students who have been out of high school for less than two years are required to live on campus. This policy exists so new students have a supportive living environment, opportunities for meeting people, and assistance in adjusting to life at Illinois State University. Due to space limitations, most students who have been out of high school for two or more years live off campus.

If you need to live off-campus, you must complete an Exemption Request to the On-Campus Housing Policy for review. If you wish to live off-campus, you must complete an On-Campus Release Request for review. Information and forms can be found at University Housing Services.

Students who do not fall under the on campus housing requirement who would like to live on campus may submit a Request for Exception to Live On Campus application. Housing space is limited for non-required students, so they should also investigate off-campus housing while waiting for a decision on their exception request.

The University offers an on-campus apartment option to international, undergraduate, and graduate students without dependents.

  • How much does it cost to live off campus?

The cost of living off-campus varies dramatically. There is rent as low as $350 per person; this will typically be for more modest apartments, that are further from campus and usually 4 bedrooms with as little as one bathroom. There is rent as high as $950 per person; this will typically be for luxury apartments that are 4 bedrooms and 4+ bathrooms and fully furnished. The average rent is between $600 and $700 per person per month. All prices listed are always per person.

The amount is impacted by the number of amenities included with the apartment such as a private bathroom, furnishings, or utilities. In addition to rent, be sure to consider the cost of food, parking and transportation, and any utilities not included in your rent. Students are cautioned to only sign a lease for an apartment they can truly afford, and consult with the Students’ Attorney before signing the lease

  • How does the cost of living off campus compare to living on campus?

The cost of living off campus versus living on campus is relatively the same, but again, that amount can be impacted by the amenities. Financial Aid offers a comparison of rates on and off campus.

  • Can I use my financial aid to pay for my off-campus living expenses?

Yes. Many students use their financial aid to pay for rent, utilities, groceries, or other living expenses. You should speak with Financial Aid to confirm the amount of financial aid you will be receiving, as this may dictate the monthly rent you can afford.

  • When do I need to sign a lease?

There is no specific date a student must sign a lease by just as long as they have secured their off-campus housing by the time classes begin in the fall. Many students look to sign in October each year. That is an arbitrary date set by the leasing companies. Off-Campus Services encourages students not to be rushed by this date, particularly if there is something that is uncertain e.g. study abroad, considering transferring, applying to be an RA, etc. There is plenty of time and housing options available. It is better to make a smart decision later than make a hasty decision now that will result in problems later.

Students are encouraged to consult with the Students’ Attorney before signing the lease.

  • How can I get a one-bedroom apartment?

Students seeking one-bedroom apartments will need to explore options early. There are fewer one-bedroom apartments available than other apartments, and the cost is usually greater. However, many newer apartments offer private bedrooms and bathrooms with a shared kitchen and common room. These options may reduce roommate concerns and help reduce costs.

  • How long is a lease for?

Lease lengths are usually 10 months or 12 months. Ten-month leases are usually from August–May. Twelve-month leases can start in May, June, July, or August. Students with a 12-month lease who do not plan to live in the apartment during the summer may sub-lease the apartment or just decide to leave it vacant.

  • I won’t be on campus the entire year; can I get a shortened lease?

Lease lengths are usually 10 months or 12 months, beginning in May, June, July, or August. Students often sub-lease an apartment to or from another student. Students are encouraged to speak with staff from Off-Campus Services to discuss the details of the situation; they can make specific recommendations.

A student can sign a 10- or 12-month lease and then look for a sub-lease for the period they will be gone; this is riskier. If the student cannot find a sublease, they will be responsible for paying the rent even if they don’t live there.

  • How do I find a roommate?

The Off-Campus Housing Marketplace has a place where students can look for a roommate. Some rental companies also offer roommate placement. Be aware that this may not be roommate matching where interests and lifestyles are taken into account.

  • Who should I rent from?

There are various companies managing off-campus student housing from large companies with many properties to an individual renting a single house. Who you rent from will depend largely on what your needs are for your apartment. Proximity to campus, access to public transportation, cost, amenities, roommates, and security may all be factors to consider when selecting a place to live off campus. The Off-Campus Housing Marketplace is the one-stop-shop for apartment searching. Off-Campus Services staff can help you start your search if you need assistance.

  • The company I’m renting from says I need to get the lease back to them today, but I don’t even know what it says.

The Students' Attorney can review your lease and help you understand what it means before you sign. You can book an appointment or a free lease review online.