Living Off Campus

The decision to live on or off campus is one of the biggest choices students will make while enrolled. While MSUM requires freshmen to live on campus for their first year, students may consider the choice to move off campus or they may not be included in this expectation. Students should spend time considering their options and make an informed decision.

Below are some things to consider when you’re looking at living off-campus:

  • Will financial aid help pay?
    Scholarships, grants, and student loans often cover on-campus housing costs but may not be used for off-campus housing expenses. Make sure you talk with the Office of Scholarship and Financial Aid about your package.
  • How much is food going to cost?
    The meal plans on-campus account for meals and snack options that are available through the convenience while you’re on campus. You will need to create a budget to determine what food costs you’ll need to plan for, which may include continuing to have a meal plan even if you live off-campus.
  • What else do you need to budget for?
    Residence hall costs include utilities, internet, snow removal, bathroom cleaning, etc. Make sure you take into account the costs of these items in your budget (along with the time and energy).
  • What is in the rental agreement?
    The on-campus housing contract includes the expectation of living per university and housing policies. When you live off-campus, make sure you read your contract, ensuring you understand what expectations and limitations are included in your lease or rental agreement.
  • What restrictions or expectations exist?
    Make sure you do your research—noting any restrictions for the streets around your rental, where you will park, city ordinances for shoveling sidewalks, consequences for having a party, etc.
  • How and when is the monthly payment going to be made?
    Make sure you have planned for the payments per the due dates. If you have others living with you, discuss how you will manage payments.
  • How long does the rental agreement last?
    Make sure you understand the terms of the agreement as they relate to length of commitment. Most on-campus housing is designed for semester and academic year terms. Off-campus housing may require a 12-month commitment regardless of your plans to study abroad or a roommate disagreement that you cannot settle.
  • Do I know the city ordinances?
    When you live on campus, residence hall students must live per the community standards as outlined in the student handbook. Students are held accountable to noise violations, guest polices, etc. When you live off-campus, there are city ordinances and laws, including pet licensing and street parking limits.
  • How and when might I meet my neighbors?
    Consider how and when you might introduce yourself to people who live next door to you. If a conflict arises during the time that you are neighbors, it is more likely it can be settled between people who are familiar with each other versus strangers.
  • How do I sign up for community notifications?
    Similar to the Dragon Alerts at MSUM, the cities of Moorhead, Fargo, and West Fargo all have notification systems that you can get signed up to receive notices of crime alerts, weather concerns, and predatory offenders. Research how you can get signed up so you can stay informed.


As a resource, the MSUM Counseling Services Case Manager is a great resource for students who may have needs or concerns that are based in the community.

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