Two-Year Residential Program

Updated March 9, 2020

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 will be notified during the Cal Poly Admissions process if their College has the two-year housing requirement.  

Programs with two-year residency requirements 

For new, first-year undergraduate students enrolled full-time for Fall 2020, Cal Poly requires the following programs to live on campus for two years: 

  • College of Architecture and Environmental Design 
  • College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences 
  • The Cal Poly Scholars Program 
  • Student-Athletes 

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

Resident Parking 

First-year residents are not permitted to bring cars on campus. Returning students and transfers can apply for a residential permit when they become available through Transportation & Parking Services.

Resident Dining 

Currently, first-year residents are required to have a dining plan. Meal plans are optional for returning residents and transfer students, who live in campus apartments with full kitchens.

Explore your options at Cal Poly Dining’s website and choose the one that’s best for you when you apply for Housing.

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:  

  • Current or active military veterans 
  • Married, domestically partnered and/or those having legally dependent children 
  • Students with an independent status 
  • Students who are 21 years of age or older 
  • Students with medical and disability circumstances 
  • Students who live locally with a parent or guardian 
  • Other requests are considered on a case-by-case basis

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the two-year residency program?

The two-year housing requirement 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 requirement added?

There are multiple benefits for students who live on campus 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.

Who is required to live on campus for two years?

Cal Poly Scholars and student-athletes already live on campus for two years. The College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) are adding a two-year live-on requirement for incoming new, first-year students admitted for fall 2020, with all other Colleges following suit within the next couple of years.

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. We also offer the Cal Poly Lofts for second-year students interested in a close-knit, entrepreneur-focused living environment.

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 standard double rooms in shared apartments, which house 4, 5 or 6 students. North Mountain is set up as semi-suites. 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, we may offer lower-priced, double-suite housing.

Will students be able to choose their apartments/rooms?

Yes, we will continue to offer apartment and room selection. Students will be able to view availability based on their application preferences and Residential Learning Community.

Will there be campus housing for transfer students or upperdivision students?

As we house more second-year students, there will be fewer spaces for transfers and other continuing students until more campus housing is built.

Are there any exceptions to this policy?

Yes, we are implementing an exemption policy for second-year students including:

  • Current active or military veterans
  • Married, domestically partnered students and/or those having legally dependent children
  • Students with independent student status or are 21 years of age or older
  • Medical and disability circumstances (exemption requests will be forwarded to the Disability Resource Center for review and approval)
  • Students who live locally with a parent or guardian
  • Other special circumstances that impact the student or University in ways that cannot be remedied, i.e. financial hardship (to be forwarded to Financial Aid for review and approval)

How do I request an exemption my second year?

Students can request an exemption through the Cal Poly Portal when they apply for Continuing Student Housing. The Continuing Student Housing Application opens in Winter quarter.

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 we welcome more students back, 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

Related Content

Support Another Student

Give Today.

Diversity & Inclusion

We are committed to creating equitable communities for all residents, staff and guests.

Find out how

Current Updates

Stay up-to-date