Campus Housing

It takes a village to coordinate campus housing - various administrators, residential staff, and community agencies may all be involved. One person cannot coordinate or be an expert in all aspects of residential services for students with intellectual disability (ID). It is truly a team effort. When providing residential opportunities, it is important to establish and invest in collaborative partnerships with a variety of key stakeholders to further enhance and balance the benefits and risks associated with campus housing.

Natural supports or peer mentors can provide varying levels of support within the residence halls to foster more inclusive opportunities as well as to ensure safety. The support needs for each student may differ and additional training may be needed within residence halls to support college students living and learning alongside students with ID.

This Exchange offers a review of the existing resources related to campus housing, how students and families can best search for residential options across programs, proactive ways to address safety or liability concerns, and general campus housing logistics and outcomes.

News & Features

Photo of Kelly Kelley
Dr. Kelly Kelley serves as a consultant to Think College and can provide technical assistance on issues related to campus housing. ...Read more
On September 17, 2019, the US Department of Education issued new guidance clarifying that IDEA and vocational rehabilitation funds can be used to support dual enrollment, comprehensive transition, and other postsecondary education programs for students and youth with disabilities.  ...Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Will students with ID automatically live on campus?

It depends. Currently about 35% (n=90) of the college programs featured on Think College Search report offering campus housing to students with ID. It is important to research this as you compare and tour various colleges. It is also important to note that some colleges may have waiting lists or use “lottery systems” for campus housing with all college students enrolled. It is important to keep in mind there are no automatic guarantees for campus housing and each college may have a specific process for determining room assignments.

Do colleges have to make reasonable housing accommodations for individuals with ID?

If there are legitimate and reasonable requests made to Disability Services, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504, there may be resources available for housing accommodations or accessible rooms as requested.

What are some of the benefits and risks to consider for students with ID when living on a college campus?

When considering residential opportunities, there are associated benefits and risks. Commonly noted benefits for living on a college campus include increased campus engagement, independence, and social maturity while having a chance to live away from home. Commonly noted risks include homesickness, self-injurious behaviors, family dependence or guardianship considerations, and health or safety concerns.

Who are various campus or community partners that can help plan residential opportunities alongside students with ID and what are their potential roles?

There are many campus departments as well as community agencies that are important partners in the development and operation of campus housing for students in the program. Typically, residential living directors and assistants, facilities management, disability services personnel for accommodations, campus police and community ethics personnel to ensure campus safety, and community agency personnel or natural supports helping with supported living or personal care needs all have a role in the campus living component of college programs.

What are some proactive strategies college programs can initiate to ease liability concerns and safety for students with ID?

Ensuring student support systems within residence halls can help reduce liability concerns and proactively ensure increased safety with families and administrators. A few proactive strategies could include: preplanning with residential living staff the details and room assignments (with roommates also being near entry ways for emergencies), providing initial CPR and first aid training as well as program awareness for natural supports living around students in residence halls, having program personnel on-call systems in place 24/7 to ensure proper monitoring for emergencies, frequently rehearsing emergency procedures with natural disasters or campus safety trainings, and/or establishing a buddy or having check-in system during overnight hours as emergencies may arise.

Other questions?