Incoming Freshman FAQs

I'm a newly admitted freshman. Can I live off campus?

You may find housing on your own; however, especially for new students, we recommend you work with our off-campus housing services: Cal Rentals

Keep in mind: In the past few years, 95 percent or more of entering freshmen live in university housing.

Is residence hall housing guaranteed?

All new students receive priority for housing. This applies to freshmen, including students participating in the Fall Program for Freshmen (FPF), Global Edge, and January start students. If you meet the housing application deadlines, are flexible about your housing preferences, you will receive a housing contract offer.

Which residence hall is the best?

All of our residence halls offer the same great staff and academic support, but it really depends on the student’s study habits, style and personality. The three main aspects that affect decisions are: social, financial and proximity/location. Other considerations, such as whether students want to reside in theme housing or substance-free housing, may also influence housing preferences.  

Social: The residents of the halls are different each year, so the levels of sociability or quiet study environment are unpredictable. The stereotype says that the southside highrise residence halls are more social environments, due to the configuration of the floors and that, conversely, the Clark Kerr and Foothill residence halls are more quiet environments.


Financial: Based on financial need, some students choose lower cost housing options (like a triple or quad room).


Proximity / Location: Some students select housing based on the location, such as Clark Kerr if they want a scenic location, or Foothill if they are engineering majors. The Units are located centrally to campus and are the closest to main campus.

I received my residence halls housing contract but the offer is not one of my five housing preferences on my application. Why?

Every effort is made to honor your housing preferences; however, room and hall assignments are made according to a randomly assigned lottery number system.

Which housing option is the cheapest?

Budget-minded students should be aware that triple rooms are the least expensive housing option in the high-rise buildings. When making housing selections, you may wish to take these costs into consideration.

Do I have to put "any room size, any location" as my fifth preference?

We recommend that you include "any room size, any location" as your fifth housing preference for the best chance of receiving a housing offer.

If you do not mark "any room size, any location" as one of your preferences, you may not receive a housing assignment. This may happen if you have a high lottery number and we are unable to offer you one of your housing preferences due to a lack of space in your preferred locations.

If your preferences are not available when your lottery number is reached, we will not make you an offer at that time. Your name will remain on the waiting list for future contract offerings, but, you will no longer have priority housing.

What can I do if I do not want my housing assignment?

If you do not accept your housing contract by the deadline stated on the contract, the offer will be rescinded and given to the next student on the waiting list. You will need to find alternate housing; you may want to contact Cal Rentals at 510-642-3644.

I accepted my housing contract, but I want a transfer to a different hall or room occupancy What should I do?

Students who have received and accepted a housing offer may request a transfer before moving into their housing assignment by emailing

Students who have just received an offer and hope for a change of assignment should be sure to accept their housing offer before requesting a housing transfer.

After submitting the housing transfer request, students will be placed on the housing transfer waitlist. Housing transfers are not guaranteed, and will be processed based upon our housing availability and the order in which we receive requests. Students who are concerned with the financial commitment of their housing and students with an accommodation request related to a medical condition or disability will receive priority consideration for housing if they provide proper documentation supporting their request. 

I forgot to return my housing contract by the deadline. What should I do?

Unfortunately, if you did not return your housing contract by the deadline or called and received an extension, we have rescinded your offer. We apologize but we have students to place in a small window of time and have to ask you to adhere to deadlines. If you do not return the contract, we offer the space to the next person on the waiting list, under the assumption that you have made other plans.

How are residence hall housing offers determined?

After each housing deadline, each application is processed and assigned a random lottery number.

If I complete my housing application early do I have a better chance of getting the room I want?

No. Assignment preferences are not given based on when the applications are turned in.

If I apply for a theme program, will that affect my chance of getting my first housing choice?

No, the theme program application process is totally separate from the random lottery number process. If you meet the deadlines, you will receive a housing contract offer. Each theme program selection committee meets after the housing deadlines and offers space to students according to their interest in living in the community. If you accept your housing contract and are subsequently offered a space in the theme programs that you wish to accept, your assignment will be changed, no problem, no fee. 

When will I receive my residence hall housing offer?

Freshmen Admits & FPF students: If you applied by the application deadline (May 2), you will receive an offer via email in late May or early June. We use the main email account you list in CalCentral (usually your Berkeley account). 

Global Edge and January Start students: If you applied by the application deadline (Oct. 1), housing offers will be sent out via email in late October or early November.

The contract must be accepted by the deadline specified on the contract. Late housing applicants or late admits will be considered for a residence hall space in future rounds of housing assignments as space permits. Any spaces not accepted in the first round are returned to the space inventory and offered out in subsequent rounds.

What are my chances of getting the housing assignment I want?

We try our best to honor housing preferences. Most students receive one of their top three housing choices. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate everyone’s first choice, as there are a finite number of spaces, so make sure to rank your choices based on your highest priorities.

Gender Inclusive bathrooms, why do we have them? Are they safe? What do students think about them? What about invasion of privacy?

“Why does Berkeley have gender inclusive bathrooms?”
There are a wide variety of resident halls, and we have both gender specific and gender inclusive bathrooms. You can look for an option that suits you. More than 150 major universities have created student housing with gender neutral bathrooms. At Berkeley, this is part of our commitment to create an inclusive and safe environment for all students.


“Are gender inclusive bathrooms safe?”
Yes. Gender inclusive bathrooms have a common sink area with multiple separate rooms for the toilets and showers. The shower and toilet areas are fully enclosed for privacy. Additionally, at the beginning of the year residence hall staff hold community meetings to discuss residential policies as well as work together as floor community to create shared community living agreements.


“What do students think about them?”
Our students advocated for the residence halls to have gender inclusive bathrooms. While it may feel like a new experience for students when they arrive, residents tend to adjust quickly as the floor/suite communities begin to feel like a shared home and living space. Our students report that the bathrooms help make the living spaces feel more inclusive. We invite you see our residence halls for yourself!


"I saw a news story about an invasion of privacy incident. Is Berkeley going to be changing all of the bathrooms to single gender as result?
Fortunately, troubling incidents like that are very rare. We have no plans at this time to alter the bathrooms. Our staff, including RAs, custodians, maintenance workers and more, are trained to look for suspicious activity. We also ask that residents be aware of their surroundings and report any harassment, misconduct or suspicious activity.


"What happens to this student or any student when they invade another person’s privacy or engage in other forms of sexual misconduct? What does the university do?"
Sexual misconduct (including invasion of privacy) has no place on our campus. UC Berkeley has policies in place to prohibit sexual misconduct and to hold violators accountable, which can include expulsion. There are a variety of ways to report misconduct, some of which involve the police. The Center for Student Conduct reviews any reports and if a student is found responsible, they can face campus punishment based on the severity of the misconduct. Their office website can provide specifics on that process.


If I am admitted off the waitlist, do I still receive the housing priority?

Yes, waitlisted admitted students will receive a housing offer, IF you complete the housing application by accepting your offer of admissions by your deadline and indicating “any room, any location” as one of your housing preferences.  Housing priority can be jeopardized if you do not accept your offer of admissions by your deadline.  Please check MAP@Berkeley for more information.

May I apply online and send my money in later?

No. All payments for housing (application fee and advance payment) must be made online. You should apply for housing and pay your application fee online, the day after accepting your offer of Admissions. Some students will have an Application Fee waiver.

What is the process for cancelling my housing contract? Can I cancel after the fall semester?

Most Cal Housing contracts are for the entire academic year.  Students who wish to cancel their housing contracts must complete a Housing Contract Cancellation Request form. Requests to cancel housing are based on whether or not a replacement can be found to assume responsibility for the contract, or if the student withdraws from the University. (A “replacement” is defined by the housing office as a currently enrolled student of the same gender who does not have a contract with the housing office and would be able to assume financial responsibility for the contract.) Students are still financially responsible for their contracts until a replacement can be found and/or cancellation is approved. For the best chances of getting a replacement for spring semester, students who want to cancel at the end of fall semester should submit their Cancellation Requests by early October.

Is there a cancellation fee?

Yes, $150 for cancellation prior to occupancy and $300 after occupancy. Please note that cancellation is only approved in cases where there is an eligible replacement for your space.

When is Greek rush and if I get accepted into a fraternity or sorority that offers housing, can I move out of the residence halls?

Greek rush generally happens in the fall. Students who are accepted into a fraternity or sorority can request to move out of the residence halls but are not guaranteed to be able to cancel. If a student has been accepted into a fraternity or sorority and plans on living in the “House” for the spring semester, the student must first complete a Housing Contract Cancellation Request. (Filling out a Cancellation Request is NOT an automatic guarantee to cancel the housing contract.) The earlier students turn them in, the better. Requests to cancel housing contracts are granted if there is a replacement to assume financial responsibility. Requests to cancel housing are subject to the cancellation fee. 

How are roommates assigned?

Students have the option of requesting roommates when filling out the housing application.  For a roommate pair, one student must request the other through the application portal, and the second student must then accept his / her friend’s request. If students do not request a roommate[s] then they are matched according to personal living preferences from the housing application [study habits, sleep habits, social vs. non-social, etc.].

Will I be roomed with my requested roommate?

We try very hard to match requested roommates; we want you to reside with the student of your choice. If you complete the application and follow all of the roommate instructions, we are able to match most requested roommates. The housing office will not match roommates who do not confirm their requests on their applications.

What if I don’t like my roommate?
Roommates do not need to be best friends. However, we do expect you to be fair, honest, and considerate with one another. Everyone needs to take responsibility for his or her own behavior and share the responsibility for a positive roommate relationship. Living in a shared space with someone can be challenging so it is important to realize that understanding of different values and compromise are often key to this relationship. It is really important to complete the roommate agreement (with detail and true honesty) at the beginning and you can always re-visit it when things change.

First, talk to your roommate about any problems that you might be having. If that doesn’t help, then talk to your Resident Assistant (RA) about any roommate conflicts. The RA is there to help you make a smooth transition to your new home and will work with you to better communicate and set boundaries with your roommate. Your RA will encourage you to re-visit your roommate agreement or serve as a mediator with roommates to get students talking and working through issues of misunderstanding and/or expectations. If after talking to your RA your roommate conflict isn’t resolved, you may go to the Resident Director (RD) about possible solutions for roommate conflicts. If after talking to your RA and RD a solution can’t be reached, you may come into the Housing Office and request a room transfer.

There are no transfers made for the first two weeks after move-in to allow for a period of roommate adjustment. This time also allows the Housing Office to determine who is here and if there are any vacancies.

What if I met someone and we want to be roommates?
If you and your new planned roommate have contracts for the same housing type and location, the chances are good that we will be able to room you together IF you both notify the Housing Office immediately. Each student must send their request, via e-mail (, indicating the name and SID# of the new requested roommate.

If you have different contracts for different room occupancy or units, the chances are smaller that we will be able to accommodate your request. But send along your request and we will do our best to help. The later your request is received, the smaller the chances are that we will be able to accommodate your request. Please note: we only honor reciprocal requests for roommates.