Manage Your HFS Contract
Whether you're a first-year or upper-class student, eLiving is your resource for managing your Housing and Food Services (HFS) Contract, including your roommate and building preferences, online room selection, meal plan, and more.
Manage Your Contract
Penn State values diversity and feels strongly that living with others from different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnic groups serves to enhance the college and residential experience. We are committed to equal access and maintain an environment free of harassment and discrimination against any person.
We do not utilize a roommate matching survey or ask questions about student living habits; instead, students who have not identified someone as a potential roommate will be assigned randomly with another student.
One way students like to learn more about their roommate is through social media. But keep in mind, things are not always what they appear. Don’t be quick to judge a person based on a picture or news feed. Reach out to your roommate and get to know each other before arrival. Your roommate just may end up being your best friend!
If you find comfort in determining a roommate ahead of time, there are Penn State Class of ## groups on Facebook and roommate apps, like Roomie or Roomsurf, that you might want to check out. Penn State does not endorse or have a relationship with any of these apps.
No matter how you get your roommate, don't forget to complete a Roommate Agreement Form - having that difficult and uncomfortable conversation early will help if any issues pop up later. It will provide a tool to have that conversation and a baseline of expectations.
If you're interested in rooming with a friend, both of you should indicate each other as roommate preferences on the HFS Contract. Verify that the correct student has been chosen before your preference modification deadline - only mutual requests will be processed, either during online room selection or when assigned by staff.
Here are some examples to help guide you:
- Non-mutual listing: Amari lists Chris, but Chris lists Chen. Amari and Chris are not assigned together.
- A mutual listing with online room selection: Amari lists Chris, Chris lists Amari. Amari and Chris will be assigned together when the first of them chooses a room.
- If either of them chooses a different room afterward, only the person making the change will move; the other will stay in the first room.
- A mutual listing with preference contract: Jamie lists Chen, Chen lists Jamie. Jamie and Chen will be assigned together so long as their building/room preferences do not conflict.
- Preference conflicts occur if Jamie and Chen have listed each other but both choose the location or Special Living Option (SLO) as the most important preference and they've chosen different locations or options. Both Jamie and Chen will be assigned to their preferred location or SLO and will not be roommates.
Gender Inclusive Housing
Penn State strives to provide a safe, inclusive, comfortable, and supportive living environment for all students residing on campus. Gender-inclusive housing (commonly known as gender-neutral housing) is an option for students who identify as transgender* and gender non-conforming* and provides the ability to select a room assignment that meets individual needs or request a roommate of any gender.
If you're interested in a gender-inclusive room assignment, we will work with you in a personal and confidential manner to discuss your options. Contacting us as early in the process as possible will enable us to offer the widest range of housing options. There is no guarantee that particular space will be available.
Housing space a student may be assigned to include:
- double room with an attached semi-private bathroom shared with another single or double room (suite-style)
- single room with an attached semi-private bathroom shared with another single or double room (suite-style)
In any available housing option, a student may request an assignment with a random or known student of any gender.
To discuss your interest and options available, please contact one of our staff members:
- Tracy Walker, Assistant Director Housing and Food Services 814-865-7862
- Meeghan Hollis, Senior Associate Director Residence Life 814-863-1710
- Sonya Wilmoth, Interim Director, Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity 814-863-1248
Additional resources are available for students through the University's Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.
For the purpose of gender-neutral housing, gender non-conforming is a term for individuals whose gender expression is different from social expectations related to gender. Gender expression is the external manifestation of one's gender identity, usually expressed through "masculine", "feminine", or gender variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice, or body characteristics. Transgender is a term for people whose gender identity, expression, or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth, including but not limited to transsexuals, cross-dressers, androgynous people, genderqueers, and gender non-conforming people.
Definition Source: National Center for Transgender Equality; Mara Keisling, Executive Director http://transequality.org.
Penn State strives to accommodate student preferences when making room assignments; however, we also provide options for changing rooms, both before and after arrival. Not all rooms are available for room exchanges; students in supplemental rooms or approved for medical accommodations, in particular, cannot exchange rooms on the eBoard or participate in Open Room Change.
- Room Exchange eBoard:
Students can see their room exchange options in eLiving by choosing My Info > Room Exchange eBoard.
- My eBoard Postings:
This section allows you to manage your room posting so that other students may see where you live and where you are interested in moving. You may add postings for as many buildings as available. You may also indicate if you are looking for a room to accommodate you and your roommate. Keep in mind that when you process a room switch, your roommate won’t be moved automatically and must process a room switch as well. If you do complete a room exchange, any remaining eBoard postings will become inactive.
- View eBoard Postings:
This section displays other students’ eBoard postings. To view the postings, you must first add your own eBoard posting.
Postings will include information about where a student currently lives, what type of room they are assigned, and whether they want to move with their roommate. If you find a student whose assignment you would like, you can view that posting by clicking on the student’s Access ID. You can review their room assignment and room rates associated with the assignment. If there is a difference in the room rate, the increase/decrease will be indicated. To complete the request, click on the “Submit Room Switch Request” button and eLiving will send an email to the student, giving them 48 hours to respond to your request. During that time period, you will not be able to send out other requests (you may cancel any pending requests). If the student is interested in your assignment, they will accept the request. The system will automatically make the room assignment change, and any room rate adjustment necessary will be applied to your student account.
- My Room Switch Requests:
This section displays the status of your Room Exchange postings.
If you receive a request to switch rooms, the request will be displayed in this section. You can decline or accept a room switch request. If you have initiated a request and later decide you don't want that room, you can use this section to cancel the request.
- Switching with a Known Student:
If you know a student who you want to switch rooms directly, you do not need to post your room assignment but can submit a direct room exchange using this screen. Enter the student’s Penn State Access Account ID, and the system will submit the request to them directly. They will have 48 hours to respond to your request. During that time period, you will not be able to send out other requests (you may cancel any pending requests). If the student is interested in your assignment, they will accept the request. The system will automatically make the room assignment change, and any room rate adjustment necessary will be applied to your student account.
Once A Room Change Has Been Made:
If your room assignment has changed but you haven't arrived on campus yet, simply check into the new room when you arrive.
If you move from one room to another during the semester or between fall and spring semesters, you must change rooms within three days of the date the change was processed. This includes going to the HFS Office to check out of your old room and into the new room.
- Arrange for a check-out inspection of your current room by HFS staff. We're available to conduct inspections between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Return your room key to the HFS Office. We will give you the key to your new room and you'll sign a check-in form. Don’t exchange keys directly with the other student.
- We'll assign you a new mailbox.
- Once you've moved into your new room, submit the eLiving Room Inspection Form within seven days of check-in, noting any damages or problems so that you're not charged for them.
The University has three official academic year break periods: fall break, the break between the fall and spring semesters, and spring break. During these break periods, residence hall buildings close, and all residents are required to leave for the entire period. Personal belongings may be left in the room during the break periods. Please refer to the Calendar (Events?) to view the actual dates for each break.
To accommodate students who are unable to travel home during these time periods or who need to stay on campus during the break periods, Housing offers a Break Access HFS Contract that includes fall and spring breaks. The Break Access HFS Contract does not include access during the break between the fall and spring semesters.
Students who select Break Access will be assigned to the residence hall designated for break housing and will not be required to leave the residence hall during fall and spring breaks. During these two break periods, staff will be available in the building to assist with emergencies. Meals are not provided in the Break Access contract, though Campus Dining may offer limited service times during which students can use their meal plans. Students assigned to Break Access will be charged an additional fee for this service. No refunds are processed if a student does not stay for all or any part of the closedown periods. The Break Access HFS Contract cannot be canceled.
Incoming students can select Break Access when first accepting the HFS Contract and current students can choose the Break Access housing option when viewing their invitation. Students who have already accepted their HFS Contract and want to change to Break Access should contact the HFS Office.
The HFS Contract is a legally binding contract that once accepted cannot be canceled unless the student is no longer attending the University. A student acknowledges this condition when accepting the HFS Contract; at any time, students can view the terms they agreed to at acceptance by logging on to eLiving and choosing Contracts > Summary. Click on the appropriate contract and then "View the PDF version of the HFS Contract".
A student will NOT be released from the HFS Contract to move off-campus. If a student accepts a lease for an off-campus apartment without receiving confirmation that the request to cancel the HFS Contract has been approved, the student will be liable for room and board charges for the HFS Contract AND the fees associated with the lease. Penn State is not obligated to cancel the HFS Contract because a student accepted an off-campus housing lease and is making double payments for housing.
Requesting an HFS Contract Release
1. Non-enrollment, withdrawal, leave of absence, transfer to another PSU campus, transfer to another university, study abroad, internship, graduation:
Login to eLiving and select the "Contract Cancellation Request" link from the left-hand navigation. Follow prompts to submit the request.
Staff will review the request and will respond by email within one to two business days with confirmation or denial of the request. Action to cancel the HFS Contract may not occur until the student's LionPATH account is updated to reflect the reason (such as intent to graduate, study aboard credits, classes canceled, etc.).
If the HFS Contract is canceled for a student for any of these reasons but the student proceeds to schedule classes during the contract period, the HFS Contract cancellation will be revoked and the HFS Contract will be reinstated. The student will then be obligated to fulfill the HFS Contract and pay room and board for the original term.
2. Extenuating circumstances - financial, marriage, medical/psychological:
Submit the completed HFS Contract Release Request Form (PDF file) to the HFS Office and include supporting documentation. Contract Release Requests are reviewed by the HFS Director and a representative from Residence Life. We will review the request and respond to the student via email within 7-10 business days with confirmation or denial of the request. If a request is granted, the response will indicate the penalty fee associated with the cancellation (if any).
A student has the right to submit an appeal if the HFS Contract Release is denied. Directions for appealing will be provided in the student's denial email. Appeals will be reviewed by the Senior Director for Housing and Food Services or their designee and a representative from Residence Life. Students who appeal a denied HFS Contract Release will receive an email within 7-10 days with the ultimate decision.