Two-Year Housing Program

Updated March 29, 2021

Cal Poly is committed to building a well-rounded, nurturing support system that positively impacts not only academics but also student life; diversity, equity and inclusion; and health and wellbeing. As part of that commitment, all first-years are required to live on campus. Depending on their College or program, some students are required to stay on campus for a second year. 

All Colleges will add a two-year campus residency requirement for new students entering the University over the next three years. New students are notified during the Cal Poly Admissions process if their College has a two-year housing requirement.  

Who It Applies To

These student groups are currently required to live on campus for two years: 

  • Students enrolled in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED)
  • Students enrolled in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences (CAFES)
  • Cal Poly Scholars
  • Student-Athletes 

These newly admitted students will be required to live on campus two years:

  • Students in the College of Engineering  
    (First-year CENG students attending Cal Poly starting fall 2021 are required to live on campus for two years.)

At this time, a second year on campus is optional for all other students — including transfer students. Automatic housing grants are provided to students with the greatest financial need.

Housing Exemptions 

We understand that living on campus might not be a good match for all students. In such cases, Cal Poly grants housing exemptions for students who meet certain requirements, including:  

  • Students who are current or active military veterans 
  • Students who are married, domestically partnered and/or have legally dependent children 
  • Students with an independent status 
  • Students who are 21 years of age or older 
  • Students who are studying abroad or have an internship
  • Students with medical and disability circumstances; for more information on exemptions considered by the DRC, please see their exemptions info page 
  • Students who live locally with a parent or guardian 
  • Students who demonstrate a financial hardship based on Cal Poly Financial Aid's review of 2021-22 FAFSA and CA Dream application data 
  • New: Students who are changing to a college without a second-year housing requirement; approved Individualized Change of Major Agreement (ICMA) required
  • Other requests are considered on a case-by-case basis

Please note, COVID-19 concerns will not be considered for exemptions. If you have a medical or disability circumstance related to COVID-19, please seek out a medical exemption.

Students with a two-year residency requirement must apply for an exemption every academic year — even if they were previously approved.

Starting on Jan. 20, 2021 — continuing students will be able to request an exemption in the 2021-22 Housing Application on your Housing Portal.  

Questions, please see these FAQs below. Or feel free to reach out to University Housing at 805-756-1226 or

Resident Parking 

For the 2020-21, first-year students were permitted to bring cars on campus due to the pandemic. In the 2021-22 academic year, first years will not be permitted to bring cars on campus, as was the case prior to the pandemic. Returning students and transfers can apply for a permit when they become available through Transportation & Parking Services.

Resident Dining 

First-year residents are required to have a dining plan. Meal plans are optional for continuing students and transfer students, who live in campus apartments with full kitchens. Explore your options on the Cal Poly Dining’s website.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the two-year housing program?

The two-year housing program provides students with campus housing for the first two years at Cal Poly, extending the existing first-year live-on requirement for an additional year.

Why was a two-year housing program added?

There are multiple benefits for students who live on campus for two years. Students who live on campus are more connected to the community at large, including support resources and services. In turn, this better supports student retention and academic progress.

When will students in other Colleges be required to live on campus two-years?

All Colleges will phase in the requirement over the next 1-3 years. First-year students will be informed if a two-year housing requirement applies to their program during their admittance process.

Where will second-year students live?

Second-year students live in Cerro Vista Apartments or Poly Canyon Village Apartments. We may offer North Mountain rooms as well, depending on demand. The specific location depends on the students’ second-year housing preferences, demand, and availability.

Why should I live on campus?

Residents enjoy flexible lease agreements and 24/7 support not readily available elsewhere in the local college housing market. Living on campus provides students: 

  • Protection from extra costs in case a roommate misses rent or moves out
  • 9-month leases, designed for students
  • Easy lease releases for campus-approved study abroad, internship, and co-op programs and graduation mid-year
  • Friendly, no-hassle service for facilities maintenance and computing support
  • Tutoring, academic support, and student-centered events to support retention
  • After-hours staff support, including weekends and holidays, to assist with roommate conflicts, medical attention, etc.
  • Utilities, WiFi, and laundry included

What room configurations are available for students in second-year housing?

Currently, we offer single rooms and larger double rooms in shared apartments, which house 4, 5 or 6 students. As more colleges phase in a two-year requirement, we may adjust apartment configurations to meet the needs of residents.

Is there enough housing to require second-year students to live on campus?

We anticipate being able to house all first- and second-year students in our existing communities. As the program is implemented across all Colleges, we may offer lower-priced, double-suite housing.

Will students be able to choose their apartments/rooms?

Not this upcoming year, but students will be able to list housing preferences and roommate requests in their applications. University Housing will assign students to spaces.

Will there be campus housing for transfer students or upper-division students?

Students with a housing requirement receive priority access to apply for Housing. All other students can apply starting March 2. We expect to have spaces for upper-division students. The housing application will closed when all spaces are filled.

When and how can I request an exemption my second year?

Students can request an exemption in the 2021-22 Housing Application starting on Jan. 20, 2021. The Continuing Student Housing Application opens in winter quarter.

What happens if the pandemic requires Cal Poly to continue with virtual instruction in fall 2021-22?

The California State University (CSU) recently announced that it anticipates a return to primarily in-person courses starting with the fall 2021 term.  If public health conditions necessitate changes, we will communicate this to students to support you in making decisions with your health and safety top of mind.  In the meantime, Cal Poly has developed several scenarios for housing occupancy.  We will share more information on our anticipated occupancy as soon as possible.  

Do I have to live with only roommates from my college? Or live in the Residential Learning Community associated with my college

There are certainly perks to living with roommates that share the same academic focus as you — and to living in the same community as other members of your college. However, it is not required. You are welcome to list any Residential Learning Community as your top preference in your application. And you can request any student that has submitted a housing application as your preferred roommate.

I was exempt from the first-year housing requirement. Do I have to file an exemption for the second year to live off-campus?

An exemption for the second year must be submitted, even if you were approved for a first-year exemption.

Are any updates planned to services and amenities to support second-year students?

Overwhelmingly, students choose to live on campus for the convenience. As budget allows, we are considering ways to enhance our spaces, services and support including:

  • Adding more tutoring, lecture, and advising spaces 
  • Integrating office spaces for advisors 
  • Creating innovative learning commons and study nooks 
  • Updating carpet, flooring, bathrooms, and cabinetry 
  • Optimizing outdoor spaces
  • Adding ceiling fans to apartment bedrooms
  • Installing additional bike lockers

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