5 Tips for Renting an Off-Campus Apartment With Little to No Income

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Living in a dorm is usually considered part of the college experience. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, just 12% of college students live in residence halls or group quarters.

It’s easy to understand why many students opt to live off campus. Dorms are often small and cramped — and incredibly expensive.

However, finding an off-campus apartment as a college student can be difficult. If you don’t have a substantial income, many landlords won’t approve you for a lease. Luckily, there are ways to make it work.

5 ways to get an apartment without much income

Most landlords and rental companies have strict income requirements. As a student, you might have a small or nonexistent income. Student loans might be the only source of money you have access to.

If that’s the case, it’s important to know that there are ways to rent an apartment with your student loan funds. Here are five of them.

1. Consider a private home rather than a complex

If you apply to rent an apartment through a large complex, you’ll have to deal with a property management company. Such organizations tend to have strict rules regarding who qualifies for a unit. Most landlords and property management companies require your monthly income to be at least three times the rent.

In some cases, you’ll have better luck renting from an individual than from a company. Private landlords likely will be more understanding of your situation as a student and more willing to work with you. They also tend to have more relaxed guidelines and might not require a minimum income or a credit check.

You can find rooms and apartments for rent from private landlords on websites such as Zillow and Rent.com.

2. Ask a friend or family member to cosign the lease

If you can’t qualify for an apartment on your own, another option to consider is asking a friend or relative to act as a cosigner on the lease. Unlike a roommate, who is on the lease and lives with you, a cosigner guarantees the lease but doesn’t move into the unit.

If you fall behind on your rent payments, the cosigner is responsible for making them instead. Because there’s a guarantee the rent will be paid, landlords are more willing to approve your apartment application if you have a cosigner.

However, make sure you carefully consider the pros and cons of this approach. If you can’t afford the payments and your cosigner has to make them, your relationship could be damaged.

3. Pay more upfront

Some landlords are more flexible with their income requirements than others. In some cases, they might be willing to approve your application if you pay more upfront by putting down a larger security deposit or paying first and last month’s rent.

If you have student loans, you can use that money to make a larger upfront payment and potentially bypass the landlord’s usual requirements. But make sure you create a budget for all your education expenses first. Using too much of your student loans for housing could leave you short for the tuition bill.

4. Find a roommate

Many people lease apartments in their name and then look for a roommate as a way to reduce costs. Finding a roommate who already has a home can be a great option for students in need of housing. You can move into an apartment you couldn’t otherwise afford and split the expenses with another person.

If you need a roommate, check out Roomster and RoomieMatch.com.

5. Sublet an apartment

Subletting occurs when a tenant rents out to another person the property that’s being leased to them. If you sublet someone’s apartment, you make payments directly to the original lessee, not to the landlord.

For students, subletting can be a smart choice. People who sublet their apartments are often more flexible than traditional landlords when it comes to income requirements. And subleases are usually for less than 12 months, so they might be more compatible with the school year.

If you decide to go this route, make sure you and the original lessee abide by the terms of the original lease. Some landlords don’t allow subletting. If you rent the apartment anyway and the landlord finds out, you could face immediate eviction. Creating a subletting contract can protect both you and the lessee.

You can find apartments for sublet on websites such as Flip and Airbnb.

Why living off campus is a smart choice

Although living in a dorm can be convenient, it also can be expensive. According to the College Board, the average cost of room and board at a public, four-year, in-state institution is $10,800 per year.

Over the course of four years, living in a dorm can add over $40,000 to your total cost of attendance. You might have to take out more federal or private student loans to cover it.

Renting an off-campus apartment, skipping your school’s meal plan, and cooking your own meals can be effective ways to cut your education costs.

Securing an apartment

Finding an off-campus apartment can help you save a significant amount of money, but it can be hard to get approved for a lease on your own. By using these tips, you can score the perfect place with just your student loans as income.

Once you do, find out how to furnish your home on a budget.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal LoansFixed rates from 6.58% APR to 14.87% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.275% APR to 12.575% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of July 16, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.275% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.10% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  • Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  1. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  2. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

  • Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  1. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  2. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.73% – 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
6.28% – 14.87%1$5,000 - $100,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
6.87% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upgrade
8.00% – 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.99% – 29.99%$10,000 - $35,000Visit FreedomPlus
5.99% – 18.99%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
15.49% – 34.49%$2,000 - $25,000Visit LendingPoint
5.99% – 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.49% – 18.24%$5,000 - $75,000Visit Earnest
9.95% – 35.99%$2,000 - $35,000Visit Avant
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.