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Private Off-Campus Housing Process

Frequently Asked Questions
As a four-year residential liberal arts institution, Colgate houses the vast majority of students close to its academic core. We are not able to house all students in our residential facilities, however, so we release a small fraction of our overall student population during their senior year to live in privately-owned off-campus housing in the Village of Hamilton. Below, you will find a series of frequently asked questions about the private off-campus housing process. If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to us by email or at (315) 228-7367.

Understanding the Process

What determines the number of students we release for private off-campus housing?
Colgate believes in the value of a four-year residential education in which students live in close proximity to the academic core of the institution. As a residential college, residential living and learning is core to our mission and integral to the education students experience while they are here. In our residential facilities, however, we are not able to house all students each semester. To determine the number of students released from the College housing requirement we consider admissions data, the number of students going abroad for study, our retention rate, and other factors that influence our available bed spaces. In the 2016-2017 academic year, for example, the number of students living in privately owned, off-campus housing was significantly higher when Stillman Hall was offline for renovation. With that exception in mind, the number of students released off-campus the last several years has been consistent. We anticipate approximately 250 students will be approved for privately-owned off-campus housing for the 2019-2020 academic year, fewer than 10% of all students.
Who is eligible to apply to live in privately-owned, off-campus housing?
Rising seniors in good academic and disciplinary standing are eligible to apply to live in privately owned off-campus housing in their senior year. The lottery process occurs early in the fall semester of a student’s junior year. Members of fraternities and sororities should be mindful of their chapter's house quota limitations before they enter the lottery process; approvals for private off-campus housing are contingent on chapter houses meeting their occupancy requirements.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, a more comprehensive student conduct and points evaluation will be required to participate in the private off-campus lottery. Once deemed eligible, students will be entered into a lottery as they have been previously.
What if I am abroad in the fall of my junior year during the lottery processes?
If you are studying abroad during the fall of your junior year, you can still participate in the off-campus lottery process. You will receive emails and access to the application just as students do who are on campus. Please be mindful of time zones that may affect the time by which you must submit your application. If you are having difficulty accessing your application while abroad, please contact our office for assistance by emailing us.
Why can’t we have groups larger than 8?
The New Vision for Residential Education adopted by the Colgate University Board of Trustees in May 2003 recognized that large groups living together in private housing units may have an adverse impact on neighbors and the broader Hamilton community, and is inconsistent with the goals of promoting individual self-sufficiency and experience of independent living for those students granted the privilege of living in private off-campus housing during their senior year. For these and other reasons, the privilege of living in privately-owned off-campus housing is restricted to individuals and groups of up to eight students.
How is the lottery run for private off-campus housing?
The lottery is run in phases. Students first fill out an individual application to register their interest in the process. After applications are submitted, student conduct and points records are reviewed. Applicants with five or more points at the time of application may be deemed ineligible to live in private off-campus housing and will be removed from the process. Once students pass a conduct review, they are permitted to form roommate groups if they choose. This roommate group is an “all or nothing” group, meaning that the entire group will either be approved through the lottery or they will not. Forming a roommate group with those whom students plan to live with in private off-campus housing ensures that they will reside with their preferred group if they are accepted. Roommate groups cannot contain more than 8 students. Once roommate groups are formed, the Office of Residential Life conducts the lottery. All members of the group must meet the conduct and minimum cumulative GPA requirement . Individuals entering the lottery alone, and roommate groups, all receive a random lottery number. Residential Life releases students in lottery number order until the available number of off-campus beds has been filled. Once approved, students then have the opportunity to accept or decline their offer to live in privately-owned, off-campus housing. If enough students decline their offer, we will move to a waitlist and offer off-campus housing to additional students.
What is the likelihood that Residential Life will go to the waitlist?
The number of students who apply to live in private off-campus housing varies from year to year. Historically, between 45-60% of those who apply are approved for private off-campus housing. If students are not approved through the lottery, they will be placed on a waiting list. When the lottery is created, each group or individual is issued a number. Students maintain their original lottery number, and if a group who was selected to live off-campus rejects the offer, Residential Life can then offer that space to the next student or group of students in lottery order. This does not happen frequently, and as such, being placed on the waitlist does not mean a student will eventually be permitted to live in private off-campus housing.
How soon will I know if I am selected off of the waiting list?
Students who are offered the opportunity to live in private off-campus housing have until mid-December to accept or reject the offer. If Residential Life is able to release more students, students will be notified in January.

Next Steps After Notification

Is there an appeal process for the private off-campus lottery?
Students may request review of their eligibility status by submitting a written appeal by email to Stacey Millard. All appeals must be submitted by Monday, November 12 at 8:30 a.m. and late appeals will not be accepted. Appeals will be reviewed by the Dean of Student Conduct and Administrative Advising, and the Dean of the College. A written appeal must a) specifically state the ground(s) for appeal pertaining to eligibility for the lottery, b) offer a detailed supporting rationale for each ground, and c) include any relevant documentation or information that you feel will assist in your appeal.

If a student is not approved through the lottery to live in private off-campus housing, they should plan to participate in the University-owned housing selection process, which occurs in the spring semester.
I signed a lease before being approved to live in private off-campus housing, and I’m not sure what to do next.
Students receive communications from the Office of Residential Life in the fall of their first and second years on campus reminding them of the University’s residency requirement. We advise students to never sign a lease before receiving permission to live in private off-campus housing through the lottery. Consistent with Colgate’s residency requirement, only students who have permission to live in private off-campus housing may live in non-Colgate housing. Signing a lease prematurely does not release applicants from the residency requirement, or influence the outcome of the lottery process. It will also not be a compelling justification for appeal. Students who sign a lease prior to the completion of the private off-campus housing process may find themselves committed to both on-campus housing as well as paying rent to a private landlord. For this reason, students should always wait to receive approval in the private off-campus housing process before signing a lease with a private landlord.
If I am selected for private off-campus housing, must I accept the offer?
Every student who is offered the opportunity to live in private off campus house has an opportunity to turn the offer down. Students who are selected will have a period of time to complete a Off-Campus Housing Confirmation Form in which they either confirm that they are living in privately-owned off-campus housing or turn down the offer, indicating they wish to live in University-owned housing. Once that form is submitted, the decision is final and cannot be reversed.
How do I secure housing on-campus next semester?
The housing selection process for the 2019-2020 academic year begins immediately after winter break in January. More information will be available to you via email, including invitations to information sessions about some changes Residential Life is making to the process that will allow more groups to live together in block-style housing. More details will be shared in the weeks to come!
How do I apply for an accessible accommodation?
The accessible accommodation (f.k.a. special accommodation) process for housing is a separate process from the private off-campus process, led in conjunction with the Office of Academic Support and Disability Services. The accessible accommodations process should not be conceived of as an alternative to the private off-campus housing process or as a “second chance” to live in private off-campus housing. Colgate aims to meet all housing accommodation needs within the University’s housing inventory, and students whose needs have been met on campus throughout their tenure should expect to have their needs met during the senior year as well. The housing accommodations process is intended for documented disabilities or needs that have significantly changed during a student’s tenure at Colgate that cannot be met through the general room selection process.

Students must complete an accessible accommodations application to be considered, along with written documentation from a professional, who is not related to you and who is qualified to evaluate your needs, to Lynn Waldman, Director of Academic Support and Disability Services. More information regarding accessible accomodation housing can be found at the Office of Academic Support and Disability Services.
What is Neighbor-to-Neighbor?
All off-campus students must participate in the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program administered by the Office of Residential Life. This program provides students with important information about living in the Hamilton community, resources available to them if they encounter difficulties, and expectations for student conduct while living in the village. Students approved to live in private off-campus housing who will be abroad in the spring semester and unable to attend the session in person, will receive an electronic version of the program.
What if I am abroad in the Spring of my Junior year and cannot attend Neighbor-to-Neighbor?
If you are abroad in the Spring semester of your junior year, you will be provided an electronic version of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program via your Colgate email.
Will Colgate help me find off-campus housing?
Colgate does not assist students with securing private off-campus living accommodations, and does not endorse any particular landlord in the Hamilton Community. The Office of Residential LIfe does have a list of area landlords and their contact information, which we can provide to students after they have been approved to live in private off-campus housing; however, we do not maintain any information regarding the properties offered by each landlord. Landlords are also informed of Colgate’s housing process and deadlines and many will expect to see Colgate’s written permission from the Office of Residence Life before agreeing to sign a lease with a student.
Can my private off-campus housing privileges be revoked?
The Colgate University Code of Student Conduct applies to student behavior both on and off campus. The opportunity to live in private off-campus housing is a privilege and not a right. The University is sensitive to the importance of maintaining quality of life standards for our neighbors in the Hamilton community and has high expectations for the students who are place within Village neighborhoods. As such, students living in private off-campus housing whose conduct adversely impacts the lives of others living in the Hamilton community may, in addition to facing disciplinary action from the the Village of Hamilton and the University, may have their permission to live in private off-campus housing revoked. Financial penalties incurred by breaking a lease will not be considered in determining whether to revoke a student’s permission to live off campus. Students who have questions about the expectations of the Village and of Colgate of living in private off-campus housing should talk with the Office of Residential Life before deciding to live in private off-campus housing.
Can I change who I live with after the lottery is run, even if I was in a roommate group for the lottery?
Yes, as long as all students living in your private off-campus address have already been approved to live off-campus through the lottery process. Students must submit their private off-campus address, landlord information, and roommate groups to the Office of Residential Life when verifying they are living in privately owned, off-campus housing. If you do not find a suitable rental for the group you hoped to live with, and you live in a different configuration than your original roommate group, you must indicate that on your confirmation form. Unfortunately, group configurations may not include students who have not been approved to live in private off-campus housing through the lottery process.
Why do I have to submit a lease as part of my acceptance for the private off-campus housing process?
As mentioned above, the opportunity to live in private off-campus housing is a privilege and is an exception to the university residential requirement.. Because the University has a residential requirement, it also has the responsibility of knowing where students are residing. Positive working relationships with private landlords is important for communication and to form an effective partnership for housing Colgate students. If you do not wish to share a signed lease to the University, please do not accept the Private Off-Campus Housing approval. Acceptance is contingent on having a signed lease for every student living in a private off-campus residence.

Additional Options for Senior Housing

Seniors may live in university-owned apartments, college houses, Greek houses, or townhouses. These options include both traditional-style housing options and interest housing. The selection process takes place in the Spring semester.