Get Schooled

Exploring Housing Options and Knowing Your Rights

Last updated December 6, 2023

As you move from high school into college and gain independence, housing will likely be a key concern for you. While many colleges offer student housing, it may not last beyond your freshman year, so it’s always good to plan for your future. This may mean finding a place to rent in college or beyond, and maybe even buying a home someday! Regardless of where you are in your housing journey, it's essential to understand your housing rights and options.

Group of seven students dancing in a college apartment - Exploring Housing Options and Knowing Your Rights

College housing

College students have a variety of housing options to choose from, depending on their age and year in school. For example, many first-year students at colleges will live in dorms, either because they are required to do so by their school, or want to experience what it's like to live in them. Upperclassmen can usually live off-campus in a house or apartment, or can secure an on-campus apartment with friends. In addition to understanding any housing requirements from your college, it's also important to be aware of the pros and cons of each type of living situation to make a decision that will work best for you. Read more here about how different college housing options work.

Making renting decisions

Renting is the most common option for young adults. Before signing a lease, it's essential to understand your budget and what you can afford in terms of rent and utilities. When making your budget, be sure to factor in additional living expenses, such as transportation costs and groceries.

Whether you are attending school or working full-time, housing location is also a key consideration. Be sure to map out how you will get from your house or apartment to work or school. Are there public transportation options nearby? Is there easy access to parking if you have a car? These are all important factors when choosing a place to rent.


When renting a house or apartment, you will typically be required to sign a lease. A lease is a legal agreement between you and your landlord that outlines the terms of your tenancy, including the rent amount, lease term, and any rules or restrictions. Before signing a lease, be sure to read it carefully and understand all of the terms. If you have any questions or concerns about the lease, don't hesitate to ask your landlord or property manager. It's also essential to keep a copy of your lease and any other important documents related to your tenancy in a safe place.

What are my rights as a renter?

As a renter (commonly known as a “tenant”), you have certain rights and protections that you should be aware of. For example, landlords are required to provide safe and habitable living conditions for their tenants. Find your tenant rights by state here. If you notice any safety hazards or maintenance issues in your rental unit, be sure to report them to your landlord or property manager as soon as possible. Additionally, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against tenants based on their race, gender, religion, or other protected categories. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and your local city or state government. Your city may also have more renter protections, so it's important to research what additional rights you may have in your area. 

What is rental insurance?

If you are renting an apartment or house, rental insurance can provide protection for your personal belongings in case of theft, fire, or other disasters. Rental insurance can also provide liability coverage in case someone is injured on your property.

When selecting rental insurance, consider the cost of the premiums and the coverage limits. Make sure to read the policy carefully and understand what is covered and what is not. Some policies may have exclusions for certain types of losses, such as floods or earthquakes, so it's important to assess the risks in your area and consider additional coverage if needed.

Home buying

If owning your own home is one of your goals, you can start planning for your future right now! By building your credit, understanding debt, and making smart money moves, you can set yourself up for success. If you start saving now and take advantage of long-term savings accounts and investments, you can build up money for a down payment. It's also never too early to look into programs that can help first-time homebuyers, including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, which requires a lower down payment than traditional mortgages.

Understanding your housing rights and options is essential to your peace of mind and ability to be independent in the world! Be sure to talk to trusted adults in your life about your options. We're also here to help! To keep learning about your financial future, click here to text us, and be sure to check out all of our free Money Management resources!

Explore your goals

Find a Job

Let Get Schooled help you achieve your goals

Sign UpLog In


How to Start Planning for College

Ready to explore your college options? Here’s how to start planning for college.

4 College Application Deadlines You Should Know About

We’ll explain the 4 different types of college application deadlines to be aware of when applying to college!

How to Find an LGBTQ-Friendly College or University

Here’s how to find an LGBTQ+-friendly college or university for a supportive college experience. Learn how to search and factors to consider.

How College Housing Options Work

We break down the pros and cons of common college housing options!

Get Schooled helps young people get to college, find first jobs, and succeed in both.

About UsOur TeamBoard of DirectorsFAQ

Pursue Your Goal

©2024 Get Schooled