How to Get an Apartment as a Student With Little Income

 November 30, 2021
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Private Student Loan rates starting at 0.94% APR

1.19% to 11.98% 1
VARIABLE APR

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1.87% to 11.97% 2
VARIABLE APR

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0.94% to 11.44% 3
VARIABLE APR

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  • Variable APR

On-campus dorms might be part of the so-called college experience, but they’re often small, cramped and incredibly expensive. That’s why many want to learn how to get an apartment as a student.

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.

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 — and without — your student loan funds.

1. Consider a private home rather than a complex
2. Ask a friend or family member to cosign the lease
3. Pay more upfront
4. Find a roommate
5. Sublet an apartment
Plus: Why living off-campus can be a smart choice

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. These organizations tend to have strict rules regarding who qualifies for a unit, and many landlords and property management companies will require your monthly income to be at least three times the rent.

In some cases searching for off-campus college housing, you’ll have better luck renting from an individual than from a company. Private landlords will likely be more understanding of your situation as a student and more willing to work with you as a result. 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 like Zillow and Rent.com. You might also reach out to Airbnb hosts and ask about the option of a long-term stay at a discounted rate.

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 guarantor or cosigner on the lease. Unlike a roommate, who’s 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.

Other financial tips when finding an off-campus apartment
Check your budget to see what you can realistically afford, accounting for the upfront costs of an application fee, security deposit and first month’s rent.
● Map out ideal apartment locations that won’t increase your transportation costs: You might prioritize complexes near bus stops or within biking distance, for example.
● Ask landlords about what is and isn’t included in rent to avoid the surprise of extra costs for bills like electricity, water or internet, as well as renter’s insurance.
● Request a lease that spans the school year and no longer, freeing you up to leave town when classes aren’t in session; a month-to-month arrangement offers maximum flexibility.

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 — just make sure you create a budget for all your education expenses first.

Bottom line: Using too much of your student loans for housing could leave you short for your tuition bill.

Student Loan Hero’s do’s and don’ts for using student loan money
Do Don’t
● Housing
● Food
● Transportation
● Books and supplies
● Tutoring
● Furniture
● New clothes
● New car
● Alcohol
● Vacations
The best thing you can do with leftover student loan money is to return to your lender, which will lower your outstanding balance. That might not be possible, though, if student loans are needed to cover your living costs.

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, spread the word on campus, or check out websites like Roomster and RoomieMatch.com. Craigslist works, too, but be careful, as its listings aren’t vetted.

5. Sublet an apartment

Subletting occurs when a tenant rents out the property that’s being leased to them to another person. 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. Plus, 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 — so 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 Airbnb.

Why living off-campus can be 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 $11,950 for the 2021-22 school year.

Over the course of four years, living in a dorm can add nearly $48,000 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 food can be effective ways to cut your education costs. Although it can be hard to get approved for a lease on your own, using these tips can help you score the perfect place.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2022!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
5.74% – 20.28%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

4.37% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

5.94% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

99.00% – 199.00%2$500 - $4,000

Visit OppLoans

5.99% – 24.99%3$5,000 - $40,000

Visit Payoff

7.99% – 20.88%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $36,500

Visit LendingPoint

10.68% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

9.95% – 35.99%7$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates from 5.74% APR to 20.28% APR APR reflect the 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 1/18/22 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. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. 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, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. 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 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

Direct Deposit required for payroll.

Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.

  5. Rates and terms vary by state.


3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Rates and offer subject to change. All accounts, loans and services subject to individual approval.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.


7 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.

Based on the responses from 7,302 customers in a survey of 140,258 newly funded customers, conducted from August 1, 2018 – August 1, 2019, 95.11% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.94%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s lending partners. Information on Upgrade’s lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.

Need a student loan?

Check out our top picks below or learn more about other ways to pay for college.
Variable APRDegrees That QualifyMore Info
1.19% – 11.98%1 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit College Ave

1.87% – 11.97%2 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit SallieMae

0.94% – 11.44%3 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.64% – 11.45%4 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit Ascent

1.89% – 11.92%5 Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit SoFi

N/A 6 Undergraduate
Graduate

VISIT CITIZENS