Off-Campus Student Services to host housing fair Feb. 11

Local property managers, utility and insurance companies and different City of Columbia offices will also be at the fair.

Students intending to leave the residence halls next year have a chance to explore off-campus housing options and information at the Off-Campus Housing Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the lower level of the Student Center.

Local property managers, utility and insurance companies, as well as City of Columbia offices such the police and fire departments, the Office of Neighborhood Services, Columbia Water and Light and the Human Rights Commission will be at the fair. Student Legal Services will also be present, Off-Campus Student Services representative Jordan Hoyt said.

The fair allows students to receive valuable information about saving money on bills and protecting their rights as renters as well as information about the different types of housing in Columbia.

“The Office of Financial Aid is the best resource for students and parents looking for extra assistance,” Coordinator for Parent Relations Leslie Gale said. “They can help a family determine what additional loans they might qualify for.”

Many different entities go into the cost of living off-campus.

“Affordable means something different for every student, so we try to help them understand how variables like monthly bills, aid reimbursement checks, transportation costs and other everyday expenses fit into their personal budgets and fit their unique definition of affordable,” Hoyt said.

The process of transitioning from living in the residence halls to moving off-campus can seem overwhelming. Grocery shopping, utility expenses and greater independence are just a few responsibilities that come with the decision to live off-campus.

Simply beginning the search of finding somewhere to live is often the greatest difficulty. The Office of Parent Relations and Off-Campus Student Services aid parents and students through the complications that can come with moving off-campus.

“The majority of questions we get are from parents starting the process of searching for off-campus housing and just not knowing where to start because there are so many options,” Gale said.

Information about the different neighborhoods and types of housing in Columbia can be found in the annual Off-Campus Living Magazine. A PDF version can be found on the off-campus website.

“There’s a lot to consider in your housing search beyond the cost of rent, and we’re here to give students the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions before signing their lease,” Hoyt said.

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