Dear Parents of First-Year Students:
A few short weeks ago your daughter or son arrived at UVA for their first year. I hope your student is engaging in classes and activities, working through the expected adjustments that come with college life, and enjoying this new chapter in their life.
I am writing about one topic that always seems to arise much too early in the first semester: your student's housing decision for second year. For many years, external marketing efforts and word-of-mouth among students have created a false sense of urgency to sign a lease for off-Grounds housing. In truth, there is no shortage of available apartments in the Charlottesville area if a student decides to live off Grounds. The University also offers attractive housing options for upperclass students, and that process – which does not fully gear up until January for most housing areas – allows plenty of time for thoughtful decision-making.
The following are some important points for you to consider with your student:
- Advise your daughter/son not to sign an apartment lease until after consulting with you. Given the large financial commitment and the binding contract being formed, it is important for you to be involved. Review the lease with your daughter/son and ideally visit the apartment or house with them. Assess building condition and safety measures both inside and outside the building. Clarify all fees, security deposits, and what is included in the rent.
- Encourage students to take their time deciding with whom they want to live. First-year students need time to build relationships, and someone who is a friend in September may not be the best choice for an apartment-mate come May.
- Consider on-Grounds housing as an option. In addition to proximity and a sense of community, students find many benefits to living on Grounds. An additional year of living on Grounds helps many second-year students develop maturity and perspective.
- Remember, signing a housing agreement with UVA is identical to signing an apartment lease – it is a binding, legal agreement.
- Above all, students (and parents) are advised to remain patient and not feel pressured to sign a lease in September. Unless your student has her/his heart set on one particular apartment or a single location, many choices will remain into the spring.
- The Comparison Guide: Deciding Where to Live Second Year provides a quick review of factors to consider in deciding whether to live on or off Grounds.
To help new students understand the housing process better, the University is hosting a Housing Information Session on Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Alumni Hall. Please encourage your student to attend so they can be better informed about this important decision. Your student will continue to receive information throughout the fall semester about the on-Grounds housing process for 2020-2021. Various deadlines are posted on the Housing website.
In addition, if you plan to attend Family Weekend in mid-October, Housing Fairs for both on-Grounds and off-Grounds locations will take place on Friday, Oct. 18, between 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. in Newcomb Hall. You and your student will have an opportunity to talk with staff in the various upperclass housing areas on Grounds, and with representatives from several off-Grounds properties in the area.
The Housing website also offers a range of information and resources about on-Grounds housing options for returning undergraduates, along with contact information should you have questions that are not addressed on the website.
Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students