College is usually expensive enough, without the additional expense of housing, for those who don’t have the option to commute. Many students not only need to find housing near or on campus, but also are excited to live away from home and experience a bit of independence.
Making the right decision on where to live and finding affordable housing for students with low income can be difficult.
Affordable housing student restrictions are very strict, so a “student rule” was created to assure that the program benefits are provided to those who most need them, instead of on students who are adult dependents of wealthy parents or even from other families that may have greater needs.
In this article we mention a few program options for students along with their student rule.
First, let’s explain what the Dept. of Education defines an independent student. The Department of Education defines an independent student as follows:
- Is 24 years old or older
- Is married (You may be separated, but must not be divorced)
- Has legal dependents other than a spouse
- Is orphaned (has been in foster care or a ward of the court)
- Homeless or at risk of homelessness
- Emancipated minor with court documentation
- Veteran of the US military
- Must not be claimed by any other person as a dependent on anything pertaning to the IRS
- “Professional students” working on a master’s or doctorate degree
- Evidence of any amount of financial help you shall receive from your parents, signed by them (Even if they don’t provide assistance, a certification should be written stating $0 help)
Also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, Section 8 provides very low-income individuals and families housing vouchers for affordable housing in privately owned properties and, in some cases, utilities as well.
As a student, to qualify for Section 8 housing, you must be an independent student (detailed above), a disabled person who is already a Section 8 beneficiary, your parents or you (either individually or together) are eligible for the Section 8 program or proof that you are independent from your parents who aren’t eligible for Section 8.
This program funds many activities, such as buying, rehabilitating or constructing rental properties for low-income families or individuals, with incomes of less than 80% of the area’s median income.
As a student, to qualify for the HUD HOME program, you must be an independent student as well. The HUD HOME program has basically the same student rule as Section 8.
This program encourages the construction and restoration of low-income housing with federal tax credit. Many of these properties have been constructed specifically for seniors, but not all of them.
It’s still a good option to check out if you’re an eligible student. As a student, to qualify for the LIHTC program you must be an independent student who receives TANF benefits or if you’re enrolled in a job training program and receive assistance under federal, state or local laws or the Job Training Act.
Proving your Independence
In most cases, you will be required to provide evidence of independence from your parents.
Property owners / landlords may ask you for evidence that you are of legal contract age under state law and that you have established a home of your own, separated from parents or legal guardians, for a minimum of 12 months before applying.
Some senior living facilities offer the option to low- income students in need of housing to live in a senior facility and in return provide the seniors with company, entertainment and help out during senior activities. Usually, at least 30 hours a week are required of the student’s time for these activities.
This may be a wonderful option, not only for affordability, but also for the satisfaction of knowing you’re contributing to help the elderly in times of need, when many don’t have friends or family close by and may be in desperate need of company.
There are many limitations on affordable student housing, but hopefully we have helped you understand your options better. Remember, always contact your PHA and ask if they have other options available that may help you.