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Renter's Guide for Students

This renter's guide provides you with the basics that all prospective tenants should know when renting a place off-campus. Click on the sections below for more information.

Renter's Guide for Students

Can I Live Off-Campus?

Freshmen and sophomores who do not live within commuting distance of Cal U are required to live on-campus. Once this requirement has been met, any student attending Cal U is able to live off-campus. This includes in-state, out-of-state, and international students; undergraduate and graduate students.

How and When Should I Apply for Off-Campus Housing?

In order to find a quality accommodation that meets your needs for the next academic year, you should begin the process of searching for a place no later than January.

In general, the process for applying and living off-campus requires the following steps:

  1. Select a few listings that are of interest, and set up an appointment with the landlord to view and discuss information about the property.

Do NOT sign a lease without meeting with the landlord and taking a tour of the property!

  1. Choose an off-campus accommodation that meets your needs, and follow the steps of submitting an application and signing a lease.

How Much Does it Cost to Live Off-Campus?

Prices for rent vary widely based on the condition of the property, amenities included, and additional costs. In addition, renters should expect to pay utilities; which should be specified in the lease agreement. Some landlords may cover the cost of certain utilities. Below are expenses that a tenant should expect to pay when living off-campus:

Start-Up Expenses (After signing a lease, and before the first date of rent).

  • Security Deposit
  • First month’s rent
  • Utility installation costs (i.e. Internet, cable, etc).

Expenses throughout the Lease Term

  • Rent (monthly or per semester)
  • Utilities. The renter may be responsible for:
    • Gas
    • Electric
    • Water
    • Sewage
    • Garbage Disposal
    • Internet
    • Cable
    • Landline (Phone Service)

In addition, ensure that all utilities that you, as a tenant, are responsible for are set up by the first day your rent begins. It is also the tenant’s responsibility to discuss how bills will be split amongst roommates.  

Please refer to the Utilities Information below regarding the utility companies in the California and neighboring area. Most landlords will specify which companies to use.

Utilities Information

When having utilities connected for the first time, you will need to provide the same information for each company.

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your home address
  • Your new address (If you live in an apartment complex, you should know your apartment number and/or the floor your apartment is located.)
  • Date your service should start (Give at least five working days’ notice to install new service.)
  • If there are additional services you may want (Caller ID, extra cable channels or payment plans), see what they can offer you.

Please note that certain companies may ask for additional information. The following utility companies cover the Mid Mon Valley (with the exception of cable). 

Type of Utility


Phone Number





Allegheny Power


Natural Gas

Columbia Gas



Pennsylvania American
Water Co.


Cable/Internet (California, Coal Center, West Brownsville)

Armstrong Cable


Cable/Internet (Daisytown and Brownsville)

Atlantic Broadband



Waste Management


Additional Costs to Consider When Living Off-Campus

When making a decision to live off-campus, it is important to also consider the cost of groceries and transportation. If you may be interested in registering for an off-campus/commuter meal plan, please contact the Housing and Residence Life Office at 724-938-4444 or

If you are looking to purchase a parking pass, or have any questions with regards to parking on-campus, please contact to the Parking and Transportation Office.

In addition, there are public transportation bus routes that run to and from the university. You may pick up a bus schedule for the Mid Mon Valley Transit in the Natali Student Center. Cal U also offers a Vulcan Flyer Shuttle, and Zip Car services.