Manage Your HFS Contract
Students living in University Housing will utilize eLiving, your resource for managing your Housing and Food Services (HFS) Contract. This includes Requesting Housing, accepting the HFS Contract, updating contract preferences, eBoard, modifying your Campus Meal Plan, and so much more!
Manage Your Contract
Roommate Request Process
Penn State values diversity and feel 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.
The University does do not utilize a roommate matching survey or ask questions regarding a student's personal preferences, and will randomly match students to reside together. First-year students will only be assigned with other first-year students.
If you're interested in rooming with a friend, both of you should indicate each other as roommate preferences on the HFS Contract using their Penn State Access Account (i.e. abc123). Verify that the correct student has been chosen before your preference modification deadline indicated on your HFS Contract.
When room assignments are processed, only mutual roommate requests will be paired together and will be assigned based on the first student's housing preferences. If there is no space available to match the housing preferences, the second student's housing preferences will be reviewed. If neither of the indicated housing preferences are available, the students will be assigned to any available space.
Living with a Roommate
Living with a roommate is a great experience. It helps you learn more about yourself and about how to communicate and relate effectively to others. Knowing how to take responsibility for yourself and how to respect others are valuable skills in all relationships.
Whether you were friends before moving in or met for the first time when you became roommates, living together successfully takes compromise and cooperation. You should not expect that your roommate will be your best friend, but you should work together to build a healthy relationship with each other built on mutual respect. Building a positive relationship is a process; it does not happen overnight and takes effort.
Learn more Tips about Living with a Roommate.
You can also create a Roommate Agreement to help facilitate a conversation between you and your roommate. A roommate agreement will walk you through several common issues roommates face and help provide you with solutions and compromise.
Gender Inclusive Housing
Penn State strives to provide a safe, inclusive, comfortable, and supportive living environment for all students residing on campus. The University is proud to offer students the Ally House Living Learning Community as a housing option. Students may also request gender inclusive or open housing (commonly known as gender-neutral housing) and can be assigned to other housing options across campus.
The Ally House is a Living Learning Community located in West Halls that provides an open, safe, and inclusive environment for students. The Ally House is a collaboration between Center for Sexual and Gender Identity and the Sexuality and Gender Studies minor offered by the College of Liberal Arts. Ally House fosters a community dedicated to knowledge and understanding of sexuality and gender issues. Student Programs and academic opportunities support these goals.
Incoming first-year students interested in residing in Ally House may indicate LLC: Ally House on the HFS Contract as a preference in the "Living Learning Community Option" section. Preferences must be indicated prior to modification deadline of noon May 15.
Current students living in Ally House have the option to return to the living environment for the next academic year. Students who are interested in moving to Ally House may add their name to the LLC: Ally House housing option Waitlist in eLiving. As vacancies are identified, students on the Waitlist will be reassigned.
Gender Inclusive Housing
For any student interested in a gender inclusive room assignment, our staff will work with you in a personal and confidential manner to discuss what housing options are available. It is important to contact us early in the process so that we may offer the widest range of housing options. There is no guarantee that a particular space will be available.
Housing options a student may be assigned to include:
- single or double room with private bath
- single or double room with a gender neutral bathroom in close proximity (individual, private bathrooms shared by residents on the floor - similar to a bathroom in a home)
- single or double room with attached semi-private bathroom shared with another single or double room (roommate and/or suitemates)
Upper-class students may request Open Housing (assignment to rooms with no regard to roommate gender) in any of the housing options offered on campus. To be considered for assignment, a group of students must accept the same type of HFS Contract. Each student will need to review and agree to the Open Housing Agreement (pdf file) form. The completed form should be submitted to the Housing Assignment Office, who will confirm whether the a room assignment is available to assign the students, and then process room assignments for the group.
To discuss your interest and options available, please contact one of our staff members:
- Jennifer Garvin, Director Ancillary Services, Housing and Food Services 814-865-7501
- Mark Rameker, Senior Director Residence Life 814-863-1710
- Sonya Wilmoth, Director, Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity 814-863-1248
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.
Room assignments are posted on eLiving, and students will be emailed when assignments are available to view. Room assignment posting dates will also be displayed on the Important Dates page.
- Summer Session: posted two weeks prior to arrival
- Fall Semester: posted mid-to-late late July
- Spring Semester: posted late December, before the University closes for the winter break.
Once room assignments are posted, students will have the opportunity to use the Room Exchange eBoard in eLiving to "swap" a room assignment with another eligible student.
Room Exchange eBoard
Penn State strives to accommodate student preferences when making room assignments. However, it may not be feasible to assign every student to a room that matches preferences requested on the HFS Contract. Once assignments are posted, if a student is interested in having a room change, the student can use the Room Exchange eBoard in eLiving and attempt to change rooms with another student.
Room Exchange eBoard:
The eBoard is typically available for about two weeks once room assignments are posted, but the exact date for when the eBoard closes will be indicated on the room assignment email.
By using the Room Exchange eBoard, the student is responsible for acknowledging consent for the room assignment change, which includes acceptance of a new room assignment, a new roommate (if applicable), and agreement for any room rate changes that will be applied to the student's LionPATH account.
Students may not be able to request a room exchange with all students listed on the eBoard. The system will prevent first-year and upper-class students from changing room assignments, and students with certain room assignments (such as those assigned for a medical accommodation, sororities, LLCs, etc.) may not be able to exchange with another student unless that student has a similar type of HFS Contract.
Direct Room Exchange
If you know a student who you want to switch rooms directly with (you would be assigned to their room, and they would switch into your room), you can submit a Direct Room Exchange request. You will not need to post your room assignment. To request a Direct Room Exchange, enter the student’s Penn State Access Account ID, and the system will send an email with the request to them. They will have 24 hours to respond to the 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 room, assignment, they will need to accept the request and the system will automatically process the room assignment change for both students. Any room rate adjustment necessary will be applied to your LionPATH account.
My eBoard Posts:
This section allows you to add your room posting to the eBoard, so that other students may see where you live and where you are interested in moving. You may add an eBoard posting for each building that you are interested in moving to. If you are trying to change rooms with your roommate, you should 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 Posts:
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.
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 are moving from one room to another during fall, spring, or summer semester after you have moved in:
- The room change must be completed during a 24-hour period within four days of the effective date (date it was processed). This includes checking out of your old room and into your new room through the Commons Desk.
- 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 and 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- Check into your new room by presenting your Penn State id+ Card at the Commons Desk in the Housing Area of your new room assignment. The Commons Desk will have you sign a check-in form for your new room and will issue you a room key, and you will receive updated mail and mailbox information (if applicable).
- Return your room key to the Commons Desk of your original room assignment, who will then check you out of your original room assignment. The check-out action will impact any billing associated with the room change, and update the system to ensure that any US mail or packages received to your original address is forwarded to your new address. Don't exchange keys directly with the other student. If you do not return your room key(s), your student account will be charged for a core change.
- 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.
If you are moving to a new room for spring semester from a different room in fall semester:
- You must check out of your current fall room assignment before the end of the semester. Be sure to remove all of your belongings.
- Arrange for a check-out inspection of your current room by Housing Staff. Staff are available to conduct inspections between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- Return your room key to the commons desk of your current room assignment. Don't exchange keys directly with the other student. If you do not return your room key(s), your student account will be charged for changing the lock.
- If you need storage for your belongings, check with the Housing Office for availability. Electronics and valuable items cannot be stored. If storage is not available, you will need to take all items home with you and bring them back at the beginning of spring semester.
- Check into your new room assignment at the start of spring semester.
Open Room Exchange
The Open Room Exchange is available in eLiving through the eBoard for eligible students to change their room assignment for spring semester. The Open Room Exchange will identify rooms that have a vacancy available. Some students may not be eligible to utilize the Open Room Exchange, such as students with a housing accommodation, sorority members, etc. Students who are eligible will receive an email from the Housing Assignment Office with instructions.
For spring semester 2022, the following timeline will allow students to utilize the Open Room Exchange:
- Noon November 16 - Noon December 7: first-year students currently assigned to supplemental housing
- Noon November 30 - Noon December 7: all other eligible students
Open Room Exchange Instructions
- Review current room rates and speak with the person(s) responsible for paying your student bill to ensure that the rate adjustment (if applicable) is permissible
- Select My Info > My Room, then UP - Spring 2022
- Select Change Assignment
- Search for a room by selecting area, building, and/or room
- Select Take This Room to confirm your new assignment
- You may continue to view available rooms and change your room assignment until the deadline of Noon Tuesday December 7
- Your spring 2022 bill in LionPATH will be updated with any changes to your room cost
- Students completing a room change for spring will be expected to vacate their fall assignment when they leave for the winter break. Instructions for checking out of your current assignment and into your new spring 2022 assignment will be emailed to you closer to the end of the semester. Your new spring room assignment may not be available for you to drop your items off; in these situations, Housing Operations may be able to provide limited storage. Additional information will be provided before the end of fall semester.
Break Housing / Holiday Housing
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, University Housing closes and all residents are required to leave for the entire period. Personal belongings may be left in the room during the break periods. View Important Dates for when housing closes and reopens.
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/Holiday HFS Contract. Students assigned to Break Access/Holiday Housing will be charged an additional room fee per semester 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/Holiday Housing HFS Contract cannot be canceled.
Break Access/Holiday Housing can be requested either by selecting the option as a LLC preference on the HFS Contract or by contacting the Housing Assignment Office.
Students who select Break Access/Holiday housing in advance of the HFS Contract period will be assigned to a designated set of buildings, based on the type of housing option the student selected:
- Pollock Halls: Beaver and Hartranft Halls
- South Halls: McElwain Hall
- West Halls: Hamilton Hall
- Eastview Terrace: Brill and Curry Halls
- Nittany Apartments
- White Course Apartments
Students with a Break Access/Holiday Housing HFS Contract will not be required to leave the residence hall during the closedown periods. During the break periods, staff will be available in the building to assist with emergencies. Although the dining halls are closed during closedown periods, there will be limited food service operations available on campus during specified hours. The Campus Meal Plan remains active during closedown periods, and students may use their meal plan for purchases.
Room and Board Charges
Room and Board charges for each semester that a student has an accepted HFS Contract will be posted to the student's LionPATH account. If there is a change to a student's room assignment that has a different room rate, the charge/credit will be applied to the student's account based on a prorated amount. The housing deposit submitted during the acceptance process will be applied on the student's fall semester bill as a credit towards the room rate. If the student decides to not attend Penn State, the housing deposit will not be refunded.
Housing and Food Service (HFS) Contracts are offered for a full academic year. Partial-year HFS Contracts are available for students who are planning to graduate early or who will be away from campus for study abroad, student teaching, an internship, a co-op, or a leave of absence.
Once a student files an intent to graduate, schedules study abroad, or files a leave of absence, the student can submit a HFS Contract Cancellation request in eLiving. Once the student's LionPATH account is confirmed, the HFS Contract will be cancelled for the semester the student will be away from campus. No cancellation fee will be charged.
Spring Semester Only Housing
Students who need housing for spring semester will be able to add their name to the Housing Waitlist in eLiving beginning at noon, October 1. HFS Contracts will be offered throughout November and December; a student will be able to self-select a room assignment from available space.
HFS Contract Cancelations
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.
- First-year students are required to reside on campus. Under certain circumstances, a student may submit a residency exemption request.
- Upper-class students are not required to reside on campus, and accepting the HFS Contract indicates the student intends to live on campus. The HFS Contract cannot be canceled for a student to move off campus.
A student may submit a HFS Contract Cancellation Request if extenuating circumstances exist:
- Failure to Enroll. The HFS Contract may be canceled if the student does not attend or enroll at Penn State during the term of this HFS Contract. If a student withdraws but then re-enrolls after the HFS Contract is canceled, the HFS Contract will be reinstated and the student will be obligated to fulfill the terms of the HFS Contract.
- Extreme Circumstances. A student may submit a Contract Release Request to indicate an extreme circumstance the student is dealing with. Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- Withdrawal or Academic Drop. If the student is no longer eligible for housing at Penn State due to voluntary withdrawal or academic drop, the HFS Contract may be canceled. The student must check out of their room within 24 hours of withdrawal.
- Transfer of Obligation. A student may be released from the HFS Contract if the student is able to successfully transfer the HFS Contract to another eligible student. The University is not required to offer the Transfer of Obligation option; if the option is available, there will be deadlines for completing Contract Transfer of Obligation. The student requesting the Transfer of Obligation will be charged an administrative fee, as outlined in the HFS Contract TCRs.
- University-Sanctioned Academic Activity. A student may be released from the HFS Contract if the student submits a timely Contract Cancellation Request based on a University-sanctioned academic activity that will require the student to be away from campus (e. g., practicum, study abroad, internship). The HFS Contract will not be canceled until such activity is verified on the student's LionPATH account. If a student does not participate in the academic activity but re-enrolls after the HFS Contract is canceled, the HFS Contract will be reinstated and the student will be obligated to fulfill the terms 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. The University 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:
The request will be sent to the Housing Assignment Office; staff will review the request and will respond by email within 1-2 business days with confirmation or denial of 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 cancelled, etc.).
If the HFS Contract is canceled for a student for any of these reasons, but then 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 Housing Assignment Office, include supporting documentation to substantiate request. Contract Release Requests are reviewed by a University committee, who meets on a regular basis. The Committee will review the request and a representative will respond to the student via email within 7-10* business days with confirmation or denial of request. If a request is granted, the response will indicate the penalty fee associated with the cancellation.
*The 7-10 business days is an estimate; during certain times of the year, the response time may be longer due to the volume of requests. The Committee has a set meeting scheduled, and requests to expediate a review will not be honored.
The student has the right to submit an appeal to a determination for a HFS Contract Release. The appeal should be submitted to the Housing Assignment Office, and include additional and specific documentation to substantiate request. The appeal will be reviewed by the Director, Ancillary Services, and a response will be sent to the student via email within 7-10 business days.
HFS Contract Exemptions
First-year students are required to reside on campus at University Park. Students who are eligible for certain exemptions (such as local status or over age 21), selecting on-campus housing will be listed as optional during the admission acceptance process.
A student may submit an exemption request from the residency requirement if one of these conditions is met:
- The student is 21 years or older at the time of their initial registration with the University;
- The student is married and their spouse will be at the University;
- The student has actively served in the military prior to their admission to the University; or
- The student graduated from a high school in Centre County (this applies to only these high schools: State College, Bellefonte, Grace Prep, Centre County Christian Academy, Penns Valley, Bald Eagle, Philipsburg-Osceola, and Saint Joseph) and will be living with their parent or legal guardian in Centre County in a permanent residence (parent or guardian is a permanent Centre County resident and paying Centre County taxes). An exemption request may only be submitted for the entire academic year; exemptions will not be processed in the fall to release a student for the spring semester.
Unless a student meets one of these conditions, the expectation is for the student to reside on campus for the full HFS Contract period.
EXEMPTION REQUEST PROCESS
The student must submit the Housing Exemption Form (pdf file) prior to the deadline indicated, which is based on the student's semester of admittance. If a student accepts the offer of admission to Penn State after the corresponding deadline, the Housing Exemption Form (pdf file) must be submitted within ten (10) days of the acceptance date. A Housing Exemption Form (pdf file) received after the deadline will not be processed. The student will be obligated financially for room and board charges for the full contract period. Contract Release Requests to move home with the parent or legal guardian for the spring semester will not be honored.
Semester of Admittance
SPONSORED INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
First-year sponsored international students who are interested in a housing exemption must submit the Housing Exemption Form (pdf file) as well as two letters of support for living off campus, one letter from his or her parent or guardian, and one from the sponsoring entity. Exemption requests will only be considered once all three items are received. The student interested in a housing exemption should submit a completed Housing Exemption Form (pdf file)by June 30. If the student accepts the admission to Penn State after June 30, the Housing Exemption Form (pdf file) must be submitted within ten (10) days of the acceptance date. Exemption requests will not be accepted after the deadline and the student will be obligated financially for room and board charges for the full contract period.
FUTURE HFS CONTRACTS
A student who has been exempted from the residency requirement will be ineligible to participate in the Housing Contract Process for the following academic year. However, the student may add his or her name to the Supplemental Housing Waitlist when it opens, as identified on the process timeline. There is no guarantee that a HFS Contract offer will be made to the student.
REQUESTING A HOUSING EXEMPTION
Submit the completed Housing Exemption Form (pdf file) to the Housing Assignment Office. Exemption Requests are reviewed by a University committee, who meets on a regular basis. The Committee will review the request and a representative will respond to the student via email within 7-10* business days with confirmation or denial of request.
*The 7-10 business days is an estimate; during certain times of the year, the response time may be longer due to the volume of requests. The Committee has a set meeting scheduled, and requests to expediate a review will not be honored.