Resources for... William & Mary
William & Mary W&M menu close William & Mary

Moving Off-Campus

Moving off-campus can be an exciting next step for a student, but one that comes with many questions. This information intends to provide some clarity on the impact of on-campus vs. off-campus living situations as it relates to financial aid. It is essential to realize that if a student lives at home or with relatives, they would be considered a commuter student rather than a student that lives off-campus. 

The calculation for determining financial aid eligibility doesn't change when you transition from on-campus housing to off-campus housing since we estimate that off-campus housing may cost as much as on-campus housing. Any financial aid that exceeds the balance due to William & Mary will be sent to you as a refund to assist you with the off-campus living expenses. 

For Example:

These examples review an annual award and Cost of Attendance that spans the nine-month fall/spring semesters. 

An On-Campus Student receiving $36,500 in financial aid (loans, grants, scholarships, etc.)
Student Bill/Line Item
$23,000 Tuition and Fees
$8,500 Room
$5,000 Board (meals)
$36,500 Total cost
This student would get $0 refunded as all financial aid has gone towards the student bill. 
An Off-Campus Student receiving $36,500 in financial aid (loans, grants, scholarships, etc.)
Student Bill/Line Item
$23,000 Tuition and Fees
$23,000 Total cost
This student would get $13,500  refunded to assist with living costs off-campus. 
More information on the refund process can be found on the Student Accounts Refunds page.
Here are a few things to keep in mind. 
  •  Some students may receive financial aid that is less than their tuition and fees. The student would not anticipate a refund to assist with living expenses off-campus in that scenario. 
  • If a student has a housing contract or a lease greater than the housing amount in the Cost of Attendance consideration ($8,490 for nine months), they will not be offered additional W&M grant funds to cover that cost. However, a student may request consideration for a Cost of Attendance increase based on a provided lease or student bill with higher housing costs. This request may result in additional student loan eligibility.
  • Based on their class schedule and or comfort in preparing meals on their own, a student may opt to sign up for a campus meal plan even if they do not live on campus. 
  • Although the calculation for determining financial aid doesn't change when a student moves off-campus, financial aid eligibility is determined annually. Changes in the year-to-year FAFSA filing may impact the eligibility for financial aid (ex: increased income, assets, changes to household size, etc.). If your financial aid eligibility changes, it will be due to changes reported on the FAFSA, not because of the decision to move off-campus. 
  • Financial aid eligibility for continuing students is not typically determined until mid-late June. To determine your estimated refund to assist you with your off-campus expenses (assuming that the information submitted on the FAFSA for the upcoming year is similar to the current FAFSA on record), subtract the total amount of financial aid that you are receiving from the cost of tuition and fees. The difference will give you an estimate of the refund that you may receive to assist you with your off-campus living expenses.     
  • Many apartments require a 12-month lease. However, financial aid for the Fall & Spring only covers nine months. Therefore, you will want to proactively anticipate how you will pay your summer expenses.   If possible, it is recommended to set aside a portion of your Fall/Spring financial aid in your savings/bank account so that you can use those funds in the summer. You may need to spend a little more conservatively in the Fall/Spring month to do this, but it will ensure that you have money available to you in the summer months. 
  • Financial aid pays on the first day of classes for the Fall semester and again on the first day of the Spring semester. If you receive a refund, you are responsible for budgeting that money to ensure that it lasts for the duration of time between financial aid disbursements. For example: If you receive a refund for $2,000 and there are four months in the spring semester, you know that you'll want to average $500/mo to make sure that your living expenses don't outpace your funding. Setting up a budget at the beginning of the semester will give you the opportunity to see if you need to pursue additional funding (students loans, part-time employment, etc.).

If you have further questions regarding your financial aid and moving off-campus, please don't hesitate to contact your Financial Aid Counselor.