For many college students, moving into an apartment is a huge milestone worth celebrating. You’re no longer living in the dorms or at your family home — you finally have a space that you can call your own. 

However, many students don’t know how to get an apartment in college. The process of finding and renting a place on your own feels daunting if you’ve never done it before. Plus, a student’s income might look different than a working professional, which could present some challenges during the application process. 

With a bit of planning and careful searching, students can find excellent apartments that will suit their needs. Here’s how to get an apartment as a student and what to look for during the application process. 

How to Get An Apartment as a College Student

When searching for a place to live in college, you’ll want to focus on rentals that are student-friendly. These landlords and property management companies will be used to working with students, which will make the application process run more smoothly. Here are some tips to help you get started if you’re not sure how to get an apartment in college. 

Choose a Neighborhood

Before you start your apartment hunt, you’ll want to choose the neighborhood or general area where you’d like to live. This will help you narrow down your search much more quickly. 

When selecting a neighborhood, start by considering your commute. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to get to campus quickly. If you have an off-campus job, you’ll also want to be able to get there easily from your apartment. 

There are several other things to consider when selecting a neighborhood. Maybe you want to look for neighborhoods that are already popular with students, as this could help foster an active social life and make you feel more at home. Additionally, you’ll want to look for a neighborhood with apartments that are appropriate for your budget. 

Finally, you’ll want to search for a neighborhood that’s appropriate for your transportation preferences. If you have a car, you’ll want to choose a neighborhood with plenty of parking. If you don’t, opt for an area that is bike- or public transit-friendly. 

Set Your Expectations

Next, you’ll need to decide what type of living situation makes the most sense for your needs. If you’re a social butterfly, you might prefer to live in a house with a large group of roommates. If you’re more introverted, living alone or with a single roommate might be a better fit. 

Now is also the time to set your expectations based on your budget. In general, living alone will be more expensive than living with roommates, so now is the time to decide on cost. It’s also important to note that a limited budget often comes with limited amenities or a smaller apartment size as well. 

Look For Referrals Through Your School

Many colleges and universities have resources available to help their students find apartments. Talk to your student advisors to see if they have any connections with off-campus apartment communities to help you get started. Your school might also have an online community to connect you with potential roommates or sublet options. 

Filter For Apartments That Accept Co-Signers

Many students will require a co-signer in order to meet income requirements for an apartment rental. Not all landlords will accept co-signers, so be proactive and filter for ‘co-signers welcome’ when searching online on sites like, HotPads, or Craigslist. 

Search For Room Shares or Sublets

To find more rental options, look on sites like Craiglist or Facebook for room shares or sublets from other students in the area. Many students will use these sites to find replacement roommates when someone moves out or to sublet their rooms while taking a semester abroad, for example. Keep in mind that not all landlords allow subletting, so double check their policy before finalizing your plans. 

Navigating the Application Process

For many people, navigating the application process is the most challenging part of learning how to get an apartment as a college student. However, knowing what to expect will make the entire process less daunting. Here’s a step-by-step look at the application process. 

Fill Out an Application Form

After you’ve seen the apartment and decided to apply, the landlord or property management company will give you an application form or direct you to their online application. 

You’ll need to provide basic identifying information, which helps your landlord conduct a background check. Additionally, you’ll need to provide information about your previous living situations. For students, this usually just means listing family homes and dorms that you’ve lived in previously. 

Finally, you’ll need to provide information about your income. If you have a job, you’ll need to attach pay stubs. However, if you have alternative sources of income, bank statements or other documentation may be accepted instead. 

Complete a Co-Signer Form as Needed

If you don’t have your own source of income, you may need to have a co-signer. Most college students use their parents as co-signers, but anyone who can take responsibility for your rent will work. Your co-signer will also need to complete an application form with relevant personal information and income information. 

Using Student Loans as Income

At this point, you might be wondering – do apartments accept student loans as income? In most cases, you will be able to use your student loans as income. 

Before you start applying for apartments, read the details of your loan. Most student loans cover both tuition and related expenses, including off-campus living expenses. However, some loans may have stipulations about using the money for living expenses, so be sure to check first. 

During the application process, you’ll need to provide proof of income, so be sure to have your student loan documents on hand. Be upfront with the landlords and property management company. Transparency is key during the application process. Most landlords in a college town or neighborhood will be very familiar with the student loan process. However, some may require a co-signer in order to use your student loans as income. 

Pay the Application Fee

In order to process your application, you’ll usually need to pay a non-refundable application fee. These fees range in price depending on your location but are usually no more than $50 per person. 

Find Your Student Apartment With Southern Management Company

Learning how to get an apartment as a student before you move out will help make the application process much smoother. Luckily, there are plenty of apartment communities that cater to students to make moving out on your own a little easier. 

If you’re planning a move to the Washington, D.C., or Baltimore metropolitan areas for college, then Southern Management Company is here to help. We have apartments available in a variety of student-friendly locations. 

Our leasing team is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a tour!