Housing for Academic Year 2020–21 and COVID-19 Response

Last updated: July 9, 2020

Plans for On-Campus Housing for 2020–21

On Wednesday, June 17, Chancellor Carol Christ announced that UC Berkeley will be welcoming a limited number of students to campus this fall to live in campus residence halls and apartments, and that there will be limited in-person instruction, with most classes being offered online. Read the latest campus updates here. Please note that UC Berkeley’s housing plans are subject to the restrictions of local public health authorities.

We plan to house up to 6,500 students in our on-campus housing. We will not offer living arrangements larger than two people per room in our residence halls to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. We do not anticipate any changes to housing density for graduate student apartments or family housing. We have posted our housing rates for the fall, if you wish to explore your options.

We will stagger student arrival to residence halls and undergraduate apartments beginning in early August to avoid the typical high-density move-in experience. We will reserve space in one of our housing complexes for quarantine and isolation purposes. Students moving into residence halls will likely be required to undergo COVID-19 testing immediately prior to returning to campus and/or upon arrival to campus, and will be expected to self-sequester for seven to ten days after arriving on campus. On-campus dining will be offered “to go.”

Priority for 2020–21 Residence Hall Housing

We regret that we are likely unable to provide housing for all of the many students who wish to live with us in campus housing. While we still encourage students seeking housing to apply, we are currently planning prioritization in our residential halls for returning students who have accepted housing contracts, and those students with the most needs for living physically on-campus, such as (but not limited to):

The following categories of students are among those who will be given priority for on-campus housing:

  • Students for whom living in Cal Housing is their self-selected best option

  • Students who have already signed housing contracts

  • Students with documented disabilities/need for housing accommodations

  • Students with Estimated Financial Contribution at $0

  • Berkeley Hope Scholars, Fiat Lux Scholars, and Regents' and Chancellor's scholars

  • Cultural/identity/living-learning housing programs (African American, Asian Pacific American, Casa Magdalena Mora, Global Environment Theme House (GETH), Native American, Unity LGBTQIA+ House, Empowering Womxn in STEAM (WISE), Transfer Experience)

  • Student Athletes

Housing Application Process

If you have applied for on campus housing for 2020–21, you should have already received a unique link in an email to the 2020–21 Housing Application Addendum Form. Please complete the form by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24 to indicate whether you still would like to receive a housing offer. If you still would like to receive a housing offer, you MUST complete the form by Wednesday, June 24. Given the challenges associated with this year’s housing process, late responses will not be accepted. Please note that if you complete the form by the deadline, you are not guaranteed to receive a housing offer.

If you complete the Housing Application Addendum Form by Wednesday, June 24, we will notify you by mid-July whether you are receiving a housing offer. If you receive a housing offer, you will have approximately five to seven days to accept the offer. Again, given the challenges associated with the housing process this year, we will not be able to accept late offer acceptances.

Students who wish to cancel their existing on-campus housing contract have received an email explaining how to do so without penalty. 

The form's primary purpose is to gather information on which housing applicants would still like to receive a housing offer for the 2020–21 academic year. Questions regarding your current location and your mode of travel to campus will be used for planning and logistics purposes only; they will not be used to determine housing assignments.

Rates for 2020–21 Housing Contracts 

As of July 6, 2020, due to new density restrictions relating to public health guidelines, all triple and quad rooms have been converted to double rooms, and rates for these converted rooms have changed accordingly. Converted rooms will retain the size and furniture of the triple or quad room, but will house a maximum of two residents. New rates for the converted rooms are reflected on the Rates page.  

Students with Existing Housing Contracts 

If you already have a housing contract for academic year 2020–21, your contract will not be canceled. If you accepted an offer for a residence hall triple or quad room, Cal Housing will contact you with options. You should have received an email the week of June 22 with more details, including information on how to request to cancel your housing contract. 

Spring Housing Options

Housing contracts are for the full academic year 2020–21, so if you receive a housing offer, your contract will be for both fall and spring. If you decide you want to apply for a spring-only housing contract, you may update your 2020–21 housing application term to "Spring Only" at portal.housing.berkeley.edu. An opportunity to inform Cal Housing that you wish to be considered for spring housing is also available on the housing application addendum, due June 24. Spring-only housing assignments will be offered on a limited, space-available basis. Availability for spring-only occupancy will depend on the public health situation and the number of students who decide to live in campus housing this fall. The Spring housing application deadline is October 1.

Cancellations and Relief

Unless ordered otherwise by the public health officials, we currently intend to keep the residential halls and apartments open as they are the primary residence for many students. 

Instructions on how to submit a cancellation request for the 2020–2021 academic year have been emailed to all students who held a housing contract as of June 17. These cancellation requests will be granted provided students submit the form by the July 15 deadline, and will not be subject to a cancellation fee.

When you submit your cancellation form, you will receive an email confirming your submission. Once a member of the Cal Housing team has reviewed your request, you will receive an email notifying you that your cancellation has been approved. If you do not receive a cancellation confirmation email within one week, contact Cal Housing. Please do not submit the cancellation request form more than once as it will remove any earlier request you submitted. If you would like to make changes to your original submission, email Cal Housing directly. 

If you do not cancel your housing contract for 2020–2021 by the deadline, you will remain financially responsible for your housing contract. Students may still submit cancellation requests after July 15, but these requests will be subject to Cal Housing's standard cancellation policy.

Students who accept a housing contract after June 17 or those who do not cancel by July 15 are subject to the following policies.

  • If you do choose to live in University housing, we will allow students the opportunity to cancel their housing contracts and be relieved of the financial obligations of their housing and applicable dining contracts and receive a prorated refund if the campus doesn’t resume in-person instruction during the 2020–2021 academic year, or begins in-person instruction but then later ends in-person instruction for an extended period of time (for example, in-person instruction is cancelled for more than 30 consecutive instructional days). 

  • If in-person instruction resumes in August or September, then we will not offer relief from contract obligations based upon the discontinuation of in-person instruction during the period between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. 

  • You will not be offered relief from your Spring housing contract obligations based upon periods that in-person instruction will not be offered, that are announced during the Fall semester.  

  • You will not be relieved of your contract obligations based upon your not being able to successfully register for any of the limited in-person instructional courses that will be offered.  

  • Contracts will otherwise run in full and only those cancellation requests that follow our standard process will be considered.

We recognize that you may be awaiting further information before you decide your housing plans, such as which courses will be offered in-person this fall. The Office of the Registrar will release preliminary in-person course information in early July on their website. Cal Housing has set the deadline for cancellation with this in mind.

Housing Timeline for 2020–21

  • Application deadlines for 2020–21 housing: Feb. 15 for continuing students; May 2 for incoming freshmen; June 2 for incoming transfer students; 
  • Deadline to fill out Housing Application Addendum Form: June 24
  • Expected timing for in-person classes to be announced: Beginning week of July 8
  • Expected timing for housing offers to be sent to applicants: By Mid-July
  • Deadline to cancel existing housing contracts (contracts accepted before June 17): July 15
  • Expected move-in timing: A rolling process beginning in early August
  • Deadline to apply for spring-only housing: Oct. 1

Residential Experience in 2020–21

The residential experience for students living in UC Berkeley campus housing for 2020–21 will look different than in past years, as we navigate a “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic, and adjust our plans based upon the latest guidance from public health officials. Your safety and well-being are of paramount importance. Our staff at Residential Life remain committed to offering programs, services, and opportunities to build community with your peers and with student residential hall staff; whether this engagement occurs online or in-person will depend upon guidance from public health authorities and campus leadership.

Frequent cleaning of common and high traffic areas will be provided, but students living in campus housing can also expect the following safety measures (noting that plans are subject to re-evaluation and change):

  • Students moving into residence halls will likely be required to undergo COVID-19 testing immediately prior to returning to campus and/or upon arrival to campus and will be expected to self-sequester for seven to ten days after arriving on campus.

  • Only double or single occupancy residence hall rooms (no triples or quads).

  • Required adherence to public health practices including hand hygiene, physical distancing, proper cough/sneeze etiquette, symptom assessment, possible temperature checks.

  • Requirement to wear a face covering that covers both the nose and mouth whenever you are outside of your bedroom. You may be required to use a face covering while using communal bathrooms to the extent that wearing one does not interfere with your hygiene activities such as teeth brushing and showering. You will probably be required to wear a face covering in the hallways and common areas.

  • No access to buildings by non-residents, including outside guests, non-residential staff, and others.

  • Limits on how many residents can use community bathrooms at one time, with possible assigned times.

  • Restrictions on events and social activities as per current physical distancing guidance.

  • Possible limitations on face-to-face interactions with members of the Housing and Residence Life staff, as per public health guidelines.

  • On-campus dining will be offered “to go.” 

For fall, we have designated space in campus housing for any students who may be directed by University Health Services (UHS) to isolate or quarantine. This space is primarily at the Foothill complex and will consist of the La Loma and Hillside buildings. While Stern Hall is located across from these buildings, it is not part of the isolation/quarantine housing and will continue to operate as a normal residence hall. Stern is a free-standing facility and will not share any indoor common spaces such as lounges, studies, hallways, and building entries/exits with the Foothill buildings. There will be clearly marked exterior paths of travel for Stern residents and all students placed at Foothill for isolation/quarantine will be directed to remain inside their housing assignment for the duration of their stay. Meals will be delivered to those in isolation/quarantine spaces by campus staff.

Financial Aid and Housing

Financial aid residence hall budgets and aid offers will be increased to reflect the average room and board costs of the room types available this year, which have changed due to COVID-19. This average room and board cost will be an updated increased average and not the actual cost for you. You will receive a notification when your new actual budget and aid package is available in CalCentral. For more information on financial aid questions relating to housing, please visit the COVID-19 Support Updates page of the Financial Aid website.

FAQs

What precautions will be taken to ensure common areas in apartments and residence halls are kept sanitized and clean?

Our team is dedicated to ensuring a high level of cleanliness and sanitation, to reduce the risk of virus transmission. The University’s health and safety measures include cleaning and disinfecting public spaces consistent with public health recommendations and OSHA guidelines for disinfection. For residence hall and university-owned apartment areas already serviced by custodial teams, there will be increased frequency in cleaning and sanitation of high-touch areas.  During the academic year, our custodial teams do not service private spaces such as bedrooms.  For private spaces, including students’ rooms and certain apartment common spaces, cleanliness and sanitation will remain the responsibility of residents.  

Regardless of these measures, students living in campus housing are expected to comply with personal safety measures, such as the requirement to wear a face covering outside of their own bedroom. Students may be required to use a face covering while using communal bathrooms to the extent that wearing one does not interfere with their hygiene activities such as teeth brushing and showering. Students will be required to wear a face covering in the hallways and common areas.

How will students be placed into “social bubbles”?

The current Public Health Order allows for “social bubbles” of 10 to 12 people, with restrictions stating that people can only participate in one bubble for in-person interactions.  Students living on campus will be placed in cohorts of 10-12 students based on where they will be living

When will I receive my housing offer?

If you applied for housing by the deadline and you complete the Housing Application Addendum Form by Wednesday, June 24, you are not guaranteed to receive a housing offer, but we will notify you by mid-July whether you are receiving a housing offer. If you receive a housing offer, you will have approximately five to seven days to accept the offer. Due to the housing process this year, we will not be able to accept late offer acceptances. We are committed to supporting you and will keep you informed of the latest developments as soon as we have them.

What is the status of offering housing priority for incoming freshmen and transfer students entering UC Berkeley in Fall 2020?

UC Berkeley typically offers housing priority to all incoming first-year freshman and transfer students. Due to reduced density in line with physical distancing guidelines, we cannot guarantee housing priority for new incoming students at this time but we are committed to supporting students if they want to live on or near campus.

In residence halls, we are currently planning prioritization for returning students who have accepted housing contracts, and those students with the most needs for living physically on-campus, such as (but not limited to):

  • Students for whom living in Cal Housing is their self-selected best option

  • Students who have already signed housing contracts

  • Students with documented disabilities/need for housing accommodations

  • Students with Estimated Financial Contribution at $0

  • Berkeley Hope Scholars, Fiat Lux Scholars, and Regents’ and Chancellor’s scholars

  • Cultural/identity/living-learning housing programs (African American, Asian Pacific American, Casa Magdalena Mora, Native American, Unity LGBTQIA+ House, Empowering Womxn in STEAM (WISE), Transfer Experience)

  • Student Athletes

How much housing will be available?

We plan to house up to 6,500 students in our on-campus housing. We will not offer living arrangements larger than two people per room in our residence halls to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. This represents a substantial reduction in housing capacity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for me to pay my advance deposit. What should I do?

If you're unable to pay your advance deposit because of COVID-19, please email reshall@berkeley.edu to request an exception or reduced amount.

When will move-in occur this year?

We will stagger student arrival to residence halls and undergraduate apartments beginning in early August to avoid the typical high-density move-in experience. We will share more information here as we have it.

As a new student, can I update my application to be considered for a housing offer for spring if I do not plan to live on campus this fall?

Spring-only housing assignments will be offered on a limited, space-available basis. Availability for spring-only occupancy will depend on the public health situation and the number of students who decide to live in campus housing this fall. If you do not want to receive an offer for the fall, you have two options. Either indicate your preference in your Housing Application Addendum Form and we will update your application, or make the change yourself by updating your current 2020–21 housing application on file to “Spring-Only” in your housing portal. The spring housing application deadline is October 1.

I already have a contract for campus housing for academic year 2020–21, but I don't want to live in campus housing in the fall; I want to live in campus housing for the spring semester only. What should I do?

Since housing contracts are for the full academic year, if you would like to reside on campus only in the spring, you will need to request to cancel your current housing contract by July 15 and submit another housing application for spring-only housing. Cal Housing sent an email to students with housing contracts with details on how to cancel. Please note that if you do cancel your full year academic housing contract, there is no guarantee that you will receive a contract for the spring semester. 

To access the 2020–21 Residence Hall Contract Cancellation Form, please go to portal.housing.berkeley.edu and log in with your CalNetID. Locate the "Online Forms" link in the top left, and select "Cancellation Request." Follow the prompts in the 20–21 academic year application and submit your completed cancellation request form to our office.

After your cancellation has been approved by the Housing Office, you’ll be able to submit a spring-only housing application. If you decide to apply for a spring-only contract, you'll receive an application fee waiver for your spring application. Students will be able to apply for Spring 2021 housing at portal.housing.berkeley.edu. The Spring housing application deadline is October 1.

Where can I find the email with my Housing Application Addendum Form?

Each applicant should have already received an email from Cal Housing with their own unique link to the Housing Application Addendum form. The form was sent to your preferred email address on file, which for most students is their Berkeley email account.

How have theme programs been affected by changes to housing density?

Supporting living-learning communities remains a priority for housing in residence halls. Students who applied for a theme program will learn of their admission to that theme program when housing offers are sent mid-July. Students admitted to a theme program will receive priority consideration for on campus housing, and the housing offer they receive will correspond to the theme program they are admitted to. As with all housing on campus in fall 2020, theme program occupancy will be limited with single or double occupancy rooms.

I'm an international student. Do I get priority for campus housing?

While prioritization is not based on where you currently live, there is prioritization for students—including international students—who have self-identified on campus housing as their best option. Please note that prioritization is not a guarantee. International students should note their continued interest in campus housing in their housing application addendum form due June 24, and they will be notified in mid-July if housing is available.

Why aren’t all freshmen given priority in housing?

This Fall we will have limited capacity in our residence halls. We previously offered continuing students the opportunity to live in university housing, and many of them have already accepted. We intend to honor those pre-existing contracts. Many freshmen will meet the criteria for prioritization as well. We are working to provide housing for as many students as possible, including freshmen who wish to live with us. If students need assistance with off-campus housing options (in the event they are unable to have a housing contract with Cal Housing), our team at Cal Rentals is waiting to assist, free of charge, in their search for additional off-campus housing options.

What kind of testing will you be offering students moving into on-campus housing? How will the self-sequester for seven to ten days after campus arrival work?

Students moving into residence halls will likely be required to undergo COVID-19 testing immediately prior to returning to campus and/or upon arrival to campus, and will be expected to self-sequester in their on campus housing for seven to ten days after arriving on campus. We will stagger student arrival to residence halls and undergraduate apartments beginning in early August to avoid the typical high-density move-in experience. Students with symptoms or at risk for the virus can be tested by our University Health Services partners.

I hear you will be using the residence halls to quarantine students who contract with COVID-19. Is that true?

In the event a resident is required to isolate or quarantine, we will relocate the resident to a safe location. We have designated space at the La Loma and Hillside buildings in the Foothill complex that will not share any indoor common spaces such as lounges, studies, hallways, and building entries/exits with other residential buildings. All students placed at Foothill for isolation/quarantine will be directed to remain inside their housing assignment for the duration of their stay. There will be clearly marked exterior paths of travel for residents in Stern Hall, which is located across from these buildings.

Campus staff will deliver meals and other needed resources to anyone living in an isolation space. We will also work closely with University Health Services (UHS) and the Public Health Department to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Now that triples/quads are not offered, can I update my housing preferences?

Yes, students may update their housing preferences at portal.housing.berkeley.edu by June 30.  Please note that if you have “any room, any location” as one of your preferences, you will automatically be considered for other room occupancies.

If I keep triples as my preference, will this decrease/impact my chances of getting a housing offer?

Provided you have “any room, any location” as one of your preferences, having triple or quad occupancy rooms listed in your preferences on the housing application will have no bearing on whether you receive a housing offer.  We will be offering housing contracts based on the priority list provided by the Chancellor and the responses received from the housing application addendum. You may choose to update your preferences if you wish to at portal.housing.berkeley.edu by June 30.

I have a housing contract but I have requested to change my housing/room type from one type to another. How is this process affected?

The transfer process is underway, and we have offered several room changes since April, as spaces became available. Please remember that the room change process is not guaranteed for any student. We anticipate that the delay in the housing assignment process related to COVID-19 will impact the number of room changes we can offer. Our first priority will be locating alternatives for students in triple and quad residence hall rooms, so these transfers will take precedence. We have many continuing students already on the room change waitlist who have their hearts set on an apartment-style housing option, but it is important to know that we do not anticipate many more—if any—options will become available in these locations.  

Will the prices for single and doubles decrease for students who selected only triples and quads?

The rates for academic year 2020–21 have been revised. New rates for the converted rooms are reflected on the Rates page

Will double rooms that are converted from triples and quads still have the original furnishings?

Yes, converted rooms will retain the size and furniture of the triple or quad room, but will house a maximum of two residents.

When will I hear if I have been assigned to housing with my requested roommate?

We are not able to guarantee roommate group assignments, even in typical years. This year, due to the pandemic, occupancy levels have been reduced in the residence halls and it is possible that roommate groups may have been separated in the assignment process.  Students typically receive their roommate information after their housing assignment is finalized, typically in late July or early August.  This year, the housing assignment process occurred later than usual, so it is possible that roommate information will be shared later than usual as well.

Will students have to vacate residence halls during Thanksgiving break?

No. To reduce COVID-19 exposure that could come about as a result of students traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, all in-person instruction (as well as final exams) will be delivered remotely after Thanksgiving. Unless closure is necessary for compliance with an order of a public health authority, campus residence halls will remain open during Thanksgiving, and through the end of the fall semester.  The residence halls will close for winter break, although campus apartments remain open and residents may stay during this time period.

Will the housing costs be prorated or refunded for periods when students are not permitted to live on campus due to public health guidance, and/or when classes are not offered?

In the event of cancellations: Unless ordered otherwise by the public health officials, we currently intend to keep the residential halls and apartments open as they are the primary residence for many students. 

  • If you do choose to live in University-owned or affiliated housing, we will allow students the opportunity to be relieved of the financial obligations of their housing and applicable dining contracts and receive a prorated refund if the campus doesn’t resume in-person instruction during the 2020-2021 academic year, or begins in-person instruction but then later ends in-person instruction for an extended period of time (for example, in-person instruction is cancelled for more than 30 consecutive instructional days). 

  • If in-person instruction resumes in August or September, then we will not offer relief from contract obligations based upon the discontinuation of in-person instruction during the period between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. 

  • You will not be offered relief from your Spring housing contract obligations based upon periods that in-person instruction will not be offered, that are announced during the Fall semester.  

  • You will not be relieved of your contract obligations based upon your not being able to successfully register for any of the limited in-person instructional courses that will be offered.  

  • Contracts will otherwise run in full and only those cancellation requests that follow our standard process will be considered.

Will students still be charged a cancellation fee?

Students who accepted a housing contract before June 17 may request to cancel their housing contract by July 15. These cancellations will be granted provided students complete the cancellation request form by July 15. These requests will not be subject to the $150 cancellation fee, so you will receive a full refund of your advance payment amount (i.e., if you paid the full $300 advance payment, you will receive a $300 refund). You will have this money credited back to your CalCentral account within two weeks of your cancellation approval.

If you do not cancel your housing contract for 2020–2021 by July 15, you will remain financially responsible for your housing contract.