So, you need a place to live …

Shortly after students get their admissions decisions, one big and exciting thought comes to everyone’s mind: where should I live?

Before I get started, I want to put one thing out there … there is no one place for you to live on campus.  A lot of students get really excited about a specific hall and are sure that they won’t be happy at Illinois without it. With the variety of options available, there are many places where you will be equally happy on campus. In fact, generally speaking, if you ask a student which hall is their favorite, they are probably going to tell you the name of the hall they lived in their first year on campus.

Now that that is out of the way, where should you live?  Well, that is a pretty big question. Illinois does have a first-year residency requirement. That means all freshmen are required to live on campus. But there are two main ways to fill that requirement.


University Housing vs. Private Certified Housing

There are two basic ways to look at housing options.

University Housing is what most people think of when they think of campus housing, and about 75% of students will choose University Housing for their freshman year on campus.

Private Certified Housing is our other option, and is exactly what it sounds like: housing that is privately owned but certified by Illinois as a safe place for students to live.

Now, lets go into more detail on each of these options.

Be warned, this gets a bit long …


University Housing (UH)

This is by far our most popular housing option on campus, which makes sense. There are about 24 different housing options available through UH for undergraduate students. With all those options, it can be hard to narrow it down. One of the best tools for doing this is using Housing’s comparison tool. This will help you sort your options based on what is important to you, like gender-specific housing or having an in-building library.

Students can apply for University Housing 24 hours after they accept their offer of admission through their Admitted Student Checklist. While you can apply as soon as you accept your offer, there isn’t really any benefit to applying early. University Housing room selection times (that is right, you actually get to pick your room) are assigned in a lottery. As long as you apply by the May 15th priority deadline, you have an equal chance of getting an early selection time. If this sounds a little confusing, don’t worry. Housing has a video available with an explanation on what to expect.

Other great options through University Housing are our Living-Learning Communities (LLCs).  There are currently 10 available, and all offer targeted programming for students with a specific area of interest. For example, if you are interested in having a global experience on campus, you might want to consider living in our Global Crossroads LLC. This community brings students together from around the world and helps encourage opportunities to do things like study abroad or build your cross-cultural communication skills.


If you are interested in an LLC, you will need to indicate this in your Housing application along with an essay explaining your interest in the program. Overall, living in an LLC is a great way to guarantee you will have something in common with the people you live with—plus, they have field trips! You are never too old to get excited about a field trip.

Given the variety, we highly recommend coming to campus to visit some of the halls you are interested in. (I personally recommend coming during the school year when you can meet some of the students that live there.)

If you just can’t make it to campus, don’t worry.  Each hall has room tours available online so you can still get a feel for them all. You can also email housing at with questions.

house-hunters After a few tours you will feel just like you are on House Hunters!

Private Certified Housing (PCH)

Private Certified Housing also has a variety of options for students—from halls that have cleaning services available to houses where students share all of the cooking and cleaning responsibilities, you will find it all here.

There are a lot of ways PCH is like University Housing. For example, they also have a comparison tool for students to use, plus all options have wifi and are relatively close to campus. There are also some real differences.

The first is when you can start to sign up. While there isn’t any real rush to apply for University Housing (as long as you get your application in by May 15th), the sooner you apply for the Private Certified hall you are interested in, the better. Some halls will even take applications before you get your admission decision! Since there is less space available in some halls (Brown House only houses four male students!) you will want to apply sooner to get a space in the hall you want.

One of the other big differences is the range of options. I mentioned previously that some of the houses are cooperative living environments where students take turns cooking meals for the group and doing chores. Bromley has an indoor pool, Hendrick House grows food on their roof … the list goes on.

If you want to get the feel for some of our Private Certified halls, they tend to have a slightly broader range of times available to tour facilities. I highly recommend taking a tour or reaching out to them at with questions.

In closing, I want you to enjoy this picture of a dog pretending to be a bunny in space, and remember, no matter where you end up you are sure to find your home here at Illinois!


I like this way too much …



Admissions Counselor
I've lived in South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, and Ohio. I focus on working with international undergraduate students and helping them through the admissions process.


  • Still a little confused on the co-ed rooms- I have no problem with sharing a bathroom, but is there a way to request roomates of the same gender? Or would I be better off in a single-gender house for that? I’m not committed yet, so I don’t see the housing options, but clarification would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks.

  • Hi Michelle,

    We are happy to help! Most of our rooms on campus are single-gender and the large majority of freshman live in double rooms. Check out our comparison tool and you can select single gender or co-ed halls under “Living Options.”

  • For those halls without “break housing in building” option, what should the students do during the break time period? Can the students move back to original room after break?

    Many thanks

  • Hi Cathy,

    That is an excellent question, and one you want to look into before choosing a hall. Many students will take advantage of the shorter breaks to travel, so they wouldn’t be in their halls anyway. If you decide to stay on campus you will be charged $40 a night (unless you are a part of the Global Crossroads LLC).

    If you live in a hall that doesn’t offer break housing they do offer temporary housing in some of the lounges of halls that are open over breaks.

    As far as staying in your room, all undergraduate students will be in their rooms from fall through the end of spring term. All students move out after spring term and if you wish to stay on campus you will need to work with Housing to move into summer housing options.

    If you have more questions like this we definitely recommend asking housing. You can reach them at or by phone at +1-217-333-7111.

  • I know a lot of people suggest living on campus as a transfer. However, I’m concerned about price and have been told off campus apartments would be the cheapest option. Is that true? I also know that the university offers apartments but heard that can be expensive too. Im also worried about how I’d find a roommate if I go with an off campus apartment considering I don’t know anyone going down their in the fall. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  • Hi Daniela,

    I would say it really depends. Apartment living could be cheaper, but that depends on where you live, if you have a roommate, and how you budget money. Keep in mind if you live in an apartment you will also have the additional responsibility of maintaining an apartment (cooking, cleaning, bills etc).

    As far as roommates go, you can check with some of the apartments in town, some offer services for roommate matching. The larger complexes will be most likely to have this option. You can also check out the Tenant Union’s page for more tips and information on apartments in the area:

  • How do meal plans work for PCH? Are meals applicable to any of the dining halls on campus or are you confined to the PCH you live in? Thanks so much.

  • Excellent question, Hannah!

    PCH meal plans will vary. You would not be able to eat in a University Housing dining hall unless you paid for a housing meal plan or paid get into the dining hall (kind of like paying to eat at a restaurant). Your meal plan would generally be based at the PCH you live in.

    There are some Private Certified Halls that group together to offer students multi-site dining options (example: Newman Hall, Hendrick House, Presby Hall, and Armory House offer reciprocal dining).

    So the answer is both yes, no, and maybe. 🙂

    If you have more questions feel free to let me know!