Office of Residential Life

Returning Student Housing Selection Overview


Housing Selection, also referred to as Room Selection, is a live, online process through which returning students only select their own rooms and roommates for the following academic year. Returning students will first complete their Fall 2021/Spring 2022 housing application/contract, and then on their assigned selection day will log into their housing portal and pick a specific room. Returning students who want to live on campus are expected to participate in this process and are responsible for knowing the information and deadlines. We will be communicating often and in many ways to help make this happen!

Important note: Newly admitted first year or transfer incoming students cannot participate in Housing Selection, nor can they be pulled in by returning students as roommates. Residential Life will assign incoming students to rooms this summer. 

Housing Selection for Fall 2021 will start midway through the Spring 2021 semester for returning students. Here is some early information about the process to help students make decisions about their housing. More details of the logistics of the process will be emailed to students and updated on our website as the selection process gets closer. 

Timeline and Deadlines

The first upcoming deadline is March 5th for returning students seeking a housing accommodation through our Disability Services Center. See bottom of page for details.
After that, the first major deadline is March 24th, 2021 - the priority deadline to complete an application/contract, which will allow returning students to get into the online self-select housing process on their selection day. This is also the deadline to clear financial holds. Students who submit an application after March 24th will be ineligible to participate in housing selection and will be manually housed by Residential Life after the self-selection process. This means that students who apply after the March 24th deadline will be assigned to remaining openings, thus room type preferences and roommate requests may not be available. As such, we encourage students to apply well before the application deadline. Please note that while we accept both DSC accommodation requests and applications on a rolling basis, our ability to fulfill requests declines as we get further along in the process. Please make sure to apply before priority deadlines to better help us in providing you with more options. 

Housing Selection for Fall 2021 (subject to change):

  • February 17: Returner Housing Application/Contract becomes available
  • March 5th: Priority DSC deadline for returning students to submit ADA    Accommodations requests
  • March 24th: Deadline for returner application/contract in order to participate in Housing Selection in April
  • Special Interest Housing Selections
    • April 7th:  Honors Selection
    • April 8th:  Rainbow Selection
  • General Housing Selection - note that earned credit hours means hours students have completed, so current classes for spring 2021 are not part of this credit hour count.
    • April 12th:  Current Seniors (earned 85-120 credits) and Grads 
    • April 13th:  Current Juniors (earned 55-84 credits)
    • April 14th:  Current Sophomores (earned 25-54 credits)
    • April 15th:  Current First Years (earned 0-24 credits) (NOT incoming first year students)

Fall 2021 Capacity 

As we build back towards a return to full in-person instruction for Fall 2021, we anticipate rooms will be occupied at their natural capacity (double will hold two people, suites will hold three-or-four (depending on their designed capacity), etc. At this time we are not anticipating the need to offer enhanced occupancy suites for Fall 2021. There are still some unknown factors for Fall, but all signs point towards robust mitigation factors (like vaccines) making a return to being together a safe option. 

Get to Know the Housing Portal!  

Access it by going to your MyUSM portal ( Log in, look for the USM Quick Links on the left hand side of the screen in the list under all of the little square icons, and click on "Residential Life and Housing Portal". The housing software we use for housing self-selection has a number of great features:

  • An intuitive interface. 
  • The ability to view roommate matching criteria that will allow students to select roommates within rooms that are a good match if they do not already have a roommate grouping planned. 
  • Staggered selection times, allowing a smaller number of selectors in at a time throughout the day so students have more time to view options and to make decisions. 
  • Practice forms so students can practice selecting before their time, doing an unlimited number of walkthroughs.
  • Increased options for more specific communication.
  • A more equitable Gender Inclusive Housing process.
  • Waitlists for a more preferred space, with transparent position numbers. 

With many students studying remotely right now, support will be much expanded to make sure all students, regardless of where they are, have great information at their fingertips. 

Additional tools for Fall 2021 Housing Selection

Residential Life will be providing a number of opportunities for students to learn about the Fall 2021 housing selection process, such as:

  • Online info sessions for housing, staged at different points in the selection process. 
  • Online help guides and videos. 
  • Drop-in Zoom rooms to ask questions of a live person. 
  • Virtual roommate group Mix and Mingles - looking for more people to join your group? Come meet others to make a complete group for your selection process!

Here is how housing selection works...

  • The housing portal will be your greatest tool for selection. Make sure you get into it often and explore so you are familiar and comfortable with it. You’ll be able to find the answers to questions there, and both the application/contract and the selection processes are in this portal. You’ll also see options pop up down the road, like a mock selection process. 
  • Students must complete a housing application/contract by March 24th to be eligible to participate in self selection. Please note that completing an application is not selecting a space - it is simply the first step in the process to selecting a space. 
  • As a reminder, everyone who completes the contract is expected to have fully read the terms and conditions.  Not reading the terms and conditions will not be a reason to be excused from any aspects of the terms and conditions.
  • For students eligible to select housing online, priority will still be based on class standing, with graduate students and seniors selecting first, followed by juniors, etc. 
  • There is a selection process for the Rainbow community in Philippi, as well as the Honors community in Philippi. Gender Inclusive housing will be an option, and students will be able to select rooms through the online selection portal. Please note that the Rainbow community and any Gender Inclusive housing does require additional agreements to be completed in the housing portal.
  • You can select housing as a group or as an individual. On the day of your applicable process, morning time slots (9am-Noon) are for groups that can fill an entire space (example: four people in a four person space). The afternoon time slots (1pm-4pm) are for small groups that can’t completely fill a space (example: a group of two looking to go into a four person space) and individual students. Looking for more details on the mechanics of how to form a group?  See below! 
  • Cancellation scenarios and fees for returning students:
    • During Housing Selection, if you self-select a room (or have one selected for you as part of a roommate group), there is a $75 cancellation fee effective immediately if you decide to cancel your assignment before August 15th.
    • If you simply put in an application/contract and do not select a space or have one selected for you by a roommate, you can cancel later with no penalty if you do not have a room assignment. We understand some students may want to weigh their options and are waiting to decide about living on campus.
    • If you are assigned to a room manually by Residential Life after Housing Selection, you can cancel in writing within 48 hours of the assignment email being sent at no penalty, as long as you have not moved in or used your meal plan. 
    • If you withdraw from your housing assignment on or after August 15th, 2021 (and your assignment letter was sent more than 48 hours before to you), you will incur a charge of 10% of the remaining academic year housing charges as of the date the written cancellation is received and/or the check-out process is completed. From August 15th until the day before the first day of classes, the fee will be 10% of the full room charge. The meal plan will not be charged.
    • After the start of the semester, the fee will be a prorated charge for the time the room was occupied, plus 10% of the remaining academic year housing charges, and a proration of the meal plan. 

What if there are more applications than spaces?

If we have more applicants than spaces, Residential Life will limit the number of students allowed into the housing selection process to the number of spaces, placing others on a waitlist. Applicants on the waitlist will have first priority for spaces that become available after self-selection has ended. In considering who to place on the waitlist, we recognize that second year students generally have more need for the academic and social support structures offered by living on campus. Upperclass students are more apt to have the skills and resources needed to navigate finding off campus accommodations. In light of this, those moved to the waitlist will be seniors, and distance to a student’s permanent address and financial holds will be taken into consideration when creating the waitlist. We anticipate having enough space for everyone, but want to be transparent in the event housing demand is high for Fall 2021.

Make sure on campus living is right for you

Residential living has wonderful benefits.  Research tells us students that live on campus have higher GPAs, graduate sooner, persist (stay in school) at a higher rate, and have a generally more satisfying college experience. That is because the nature of on-campus housing is to support your academic goals, and have a developmental process with students. Other benefits are that, unlike an off-campus lease, if one of your roommates leaves, you wouldn't be financially penalized, and if you’d like to change housing situations, there is a room change process. However, for some students, the fluidity of roommate assignments (“my roommate left and I’m nervous about who I’ll get”) can be difficult. Certainly if someone felt like they couldn’t be part of a process where Residential Life assigned their roommates, off-campus housing would be a better choice.  We know on-campus housing is a great option, but not for everyone. If you have questions about whether on-campus housing is right for you, we are happy to have open, honest conversations and encourage you to reach out to us. 

Roommate Groups 

You have the option to participate in housing selection as a member of a group. All roommates need to have a housing application completed before they can be invited to a group. The housing portal is where all group formation, changes, and invitations are housed. If you know whom you would like to live with, you can invite them to form a roommate group, or you can accept an invitation to a group. Some things you should know:

  • You can start a group - this will make you the Leader. The Leader can start the group, invite people, remove people, and disband the group. You can only invite people if they have completed an application, or you will not see them.
  • If you do see invitations, you can accept one and become a Member. A Member can only remove themselves from the group, not invite others to that group.
  • You can only be in one group at a time. If you are the Leader or a Member, you are "in" the group. If you are "Invited" you are not in the group yet until you accept the invitation.
  • You can be invited to multiple groups - once you accept a group's invitation, you cannot accept another group without first leaving the group you are in. 
  • Email notifications automatically go out when you invite people, remove them, or disband the group. 
  • If you want to select in Rainbow or Gender Inclusive spaces, everyone in the group must have signed the related agreements. You can only invite people who have signed the agreements if you select to form a group of these types. 

Housing Accommodations 

Any students looking to request a housing accommodation must do so through the Disability Services Center Accommodation form. If you would like to renew a current disability based accommodation, or would like to request a new housing accommodation for Fall 2021, please complete this Disability Services Center Housing Accommodation form to start the request process.  Please complete this step as soon as possible, but no later than March 5th to have your accommodation request reviewed before the returning student assignments process. After this assignment process is complete, cases will be considered on an ongoing basis pending space availability.