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Living Off-Campus

Note that "living off-campus" in this context does not include living with parents.

When students live off-campus, the student’s financial aid eligibility does not change. The difference is that the college does not charge the student for room or a meal plan (unless s/he chooses to purchase a plan). The student is charged for housing by a landlord or rental agency.

Things to Consider
  1. It is the student’s responsibility to make payments to landlord. Arrangements for deferred payments until financial aid would be made directly with the landlord. The College will not make payments directly to the landlord on behalf of the student.
  2. Have an honest, candid conversation with his/her parents regarding affordability. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to meet the obligations of the lease, which is a legal document.
  3. Financial aid is not available for security deposits and/or first/last month rent obligations. Students should be prepared to pay these expenses out of pocket at the time of signing the lease.  
  4. Financial aid becomes available at different times throughout the semester and depends on enrollment, completed requirements, and processing times. Refunds from financial aid become available the first two weeks of classes and funds continue to disburse through the semester.
  5. Read your lease carefully! Keep in mind additional expenses, like utilities, garbage/trash fees, and internet/cable/phone bills.
  6. Check out the length of the lease. Aid is meant to cover 9 months but leases are for 12 months, how will you pay the additional 3 months’ rent?
  7. Only borrow what is needed! If the goal of moving off-campus is to save money, only borrow enough loans to meet significant expenses, like tuition/fees, rent or a meal plan.  
  8. Sign up for Direct Deposit with Student Accounts- Save time and a trip to Erwin Hall!
Financial Aid Refunds

When the student’s aid and/or payments overpay the Geneseo charges, it creates a negative balance that is refunded to the student/parent. Generally, if your financial aid award is higher than tuition and fees, a refund would likely be available.

If Geneseo’s tuition and fees are not paid in full, a refund from financial aid will not generate. The financial aid refund is intended to be used on education-related expenses indicated in the above chart.

Most often, the refund is generated from the federal loans, student and/or parent. Since loans must be repaid and may accrue interest while the student is in school, it is important to only borrow what is needed to cover significant expenses.

Additional Funding

Students who need additional funds for education-related expenses may pursue the following options:

1. Work: Earning a steady paycheck reduces reliance on loans, stress about how to afford basic necessities, including books and supplies, and gives you an edge on your resume! It’s a win-win option!

2. Federal Parent PLUS Loan: Dependent students’ parents may apply for the Parent PLUS Loan. This is a credit-based loan in which the parent applies via

3. Private Education Loan: Students may apply for an alternative loan through a private lender. SUNY Geneseo provides a preferred lender list via Generally, students will need a credit-worthy co-signer for private loans.

Examples of Off-Campus Living Scenarios

The intention of the examples below is to explain how to calculate affordability.

Example 1:

Sherry is a full-time, sophomore, undergraduate, in-state student. Her lease is for $2600/semester. For the fall semester, Sherry expects to receive $3,460 in a refund for the fall semester. She will have enough financial aid to pay her rent and cover $850 of her other unbillable expenses like books and food.

Example 2:

Miguel is a full-time, senior, undergraduate, in-state student. He chose to purchase an off-campus meal plan. Miguel signed a lease for $2100/semester. For the fall semester, Miguel will expect to receive $135 in a refund for the fall semester.

He has $135 in financial aid to help cover his rent, books, meals, and other non-billed expenses. He will likely need additional assistance from family and/or a parent/private loan.

Calculating Affordability
Step 1: Estimate financial aid

Look at your Financial Aid section in KnightWeb. Select My Award Information and then Award Overview for the aid year.
Add together your grants, scholarships, accepted loans, and other aid except Work-Study.
This is what you have available toward your expenses for the aid year.

Step 2: Estimate costs.

Estimate your tuition and fees based on the current year. (Hint: Your Student Account Center will have this information.)
Add the cost of a meal plan, if you decide to have a commuter plan.
Step 3: Subtract costs from aid. Positive result= a refund is anticipated. Negative result= more funding needed.

Total Estimated Aid ___________ - Total Estimated Costs___________ = Anticipated Refund/Balance ____________

Off-Campus Living Resources

Off Campus Services Office: