WCU Student Residency Requirement and Residence Hall Agreements Policy
Approved by: Executive Council 1/22/2007
Posted: January 30, 2008
Revised: October 1, 2007
Revised: September 29, 2014
Revised: October 29, 2018
Policy Topic: Student Activities and Services
Administering Office: Residential Living
I. Policy Statement
University residence halls are an integral part of campus life, offering a variety
of experiences that enhances a student's intellectual, personal, and social development.
The Department of Residential Living supports a core philosophy of student housing
that envisions students living in on-campus housing during the early stages of their
college experience at WCU and progressing towards living in private apartment communities
before graduating from WCU.
Accordingly, Western Carolina University requires new undergraduate students to live
on campus in the residence hall system for a specific period of time (based upon student
type at the point of enrollment). Furthermore, students living in campus residence
halls are required to purchase a campus meal plan each semester.
In general terms, first-year students enrolling at WCU will be required to live on-campus
for two academic years and new transfer students for one academic year. Students are
expected to comply with the terms of the residence hall agreement while living on-campus.
First-Year Students: All newly admitted, degree-seeking undergraduates who have not attended college following
high school completion (excluding enrollment in the summer immediately following high
school graduation) are subject to a two academic year (four fall or spring semesters)
requirement to live in the residence halls. This student type includes those who have
earned credit while in high school (e.g., early college or dual enrollment students).
Transfer Students: Undergraduates who have attempted college courses in a regular term (excludes summer)
after completion of high school and who have been out of high school for less than
one year at the time of their initial term of enrollment at WCU are required to live
in the residence halls an initial academic year (including consecutive fall and spring
Returning or Resuming Students: Undergraduates who are re-enrolling for any reason are responsible for satisfying
the residency requirement terms that were not fulfilled at the time of their departure
from Western Carolina University.
Summer Programs: Special programs including but not limited to the Academic Success Program, other
freshman transition programs, mini-mesters, and summer student housing may include
on-campus housing requirements or options. These programs do not apply toward meeting
the residency requirement outlined in this policy.
Other Residential Programs: Programs such as the Intensive English Program, University Participant Program, etc.
may include on-campus housing requirements or options. These programs do not apply
toward meeting the residency requirement outlined in this policy.
Residence Hall Agreement: The binding agreement that students sign which states the terms and conditions for
living on campus.
III. Requirements and Exemptions
First-Year Students are required to live in residence with the Department of Residential
Living their first two academic years (four successive semesters not including summer).
Transfer Students who graduated high school less than one year before their enrollment
at WCU are required to live in residence with the Department of Residential Living
their initial academic year (two successive semesters not including summer).
Returning or Resuming Students are required to live in residence with the Department
of Residential Living for the unfulfilled requirement of initial enrollment student
Some undergraduates who fall within the student types outlined in policy may qualify
and be approved for one or more exemptions from the residency requirement, including:
- Distance Learning Students: Enrolled exclusively in an online program.
- Extension Students: Enrolled exclusively in extension courses.
- Part-time Students: Enrolled in less than 6 total hours in a term.
- Non-degree Students: Unless participating in a program that requires campus housing.
- Nontraditional Students: Age 21 or older before 8/1 for fall entry or 12/1 for spring
- Married Students: A copy of the marriage certificate must be submitted.
- Students with Dependents: Documentation (i.e., birth certificate) must be submitted.
- Local Students: Living with legal parent/guardian in Jackson or contiguous county.
- Veterans: Minimum of 18 months active duty. Documentation required.
- Seniors: Students who have earned 90 or more hours toward graduation.
Students choosing to request an exemption must complete and submit a “Residency Exemption
Form” that can be found on the Residential Living website. Submission and an approval
must occur prior to any Admission and Residential Living deadlines.
The Department of Residential Living will make every effort to secure bed spaces for
all students required to live on campus by this policy.
- Unless otherwise communicated by the Department of Residential Living to the student’s
Western Carolina University email account before January 16 th to those first-year
students governed by this policy, the second-year residency requirement will be in
effect for the following year. Residential Living could elect to inform current First-Year
students that the second year of the residency requirement is waived.
Residential Living could also elect to waive the one-year residency requirement for
transfer students. A decision to waive this piece of the residency requirement would
be communicated to new transfer students’ Western Carolina University email accounts
no later than March 15, or within two weeks of their admission decision.
These decisions would be based on residence hall construction or renovation plans,
increased retention and persistence rates, and/or a higher expected enrollment. Note
that waiving either requirement would be an exception to standard practice and must
be intentionally communicated as stated above.
- Space will be held for new undergraduate students subject to this policy based on
enrollment estimates. Students completing their first year will be expected to go
through Residential Living’s Room Selection Process to choose a room for their second
year. Those students subject to the policy who do not go through the Room Selection
Process but have paid a housing deposit and submitted a completed Residence Hall Agreement
will be assigned a room. Those students enrolled and subject to the policy who do
not pay a housing deposit and/or submit a completed Residence Hall Agreement will
be assessed on their student account a penalty charge equal to the average residence
hall rate and the default block meal plan cost for each semester remaining to meet
the residency requirement.
- The Department of Residential Living will hold only the number of estimated beds to
cover students required to live on campus by this policy. In the event more beds are
needed than have been estimated, unassigned students will be assigned to available
space by student classification with First-Year Students first, then Transfer Students,
and finally Returning or Resuming Students, all by their housing deposit date. Failure
to meet Admission Commitment Action Step Deadlines could negate the student’s offer
of admission. Any housing deposits received after May 1 will be waitlisted for a housing
assignment and might not be accommodated with housing. All related decisions and subsequent
email communications will be sent as soon as possible.
V. Residence Hall Agreements
Each student living in a residence hall must sign a Residence Hall Agreement for the
entire academic year, or summer programs, or any part of any remaining semester when
the student moves into the residence hall. Students who must meet the residency requirement
but who do not sign a Residence Hall Agreement will be required to pay room and food
charges as approved by the WCU Board of Trustees for the remainder of the time needed
to satisfy the residence hall requirement. Students who fail to abide by the Residence
Hall Agreement will be billed an early termination charge as set forth in this agreement.
The Residence Hall Agreement may be cancelled for the following reasons without violating
- Graduation: A student graduating at the end of the fall semester must provide written
notice to Residential Living before December 1.
- Medical reasons: A physician must certify the medical reasons or injury that necessitates
a student’s need to live off campus or withdraw from the university. Western Carolina
University can provide on-campus housing that meets most medical needs. If the University
can provide accommodations that meet the documented medical needs, the Residence Hall
Agreement will not be cancelled. Requests for residing off campus due to allergies/asthma
are typically not approved.
- Marriage: Proof of marriage must be presented to the Department of Residential Living.
- Academic or disciplinary dismissal from the university. Students who are removed from
the residence halls for a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, but remain enrolled
in the university will be billed an early termination charge. Students who are subject
to the residency requirement will be required to pay the room rate and meal plan fees
for any remaining terms needed to satisfy the residency requirement.
- Participation in a WCU educational program, outside of Jackson County, that requires
living off campus while attending three hours of class per week or less on the Cullowhee
- Official withdrawal from the university.
- Dependent children: A copy of the certificate of birth, adoption, or other custody
paperwork must be submitted as documentation.
- Military: Called to active duty. A copy of the deployment papers must be provided.
VI. Appeal Procedures
Students submitting a letter of appeal are encouraged to provide any and all relevant
supporting information; including but not limited to, documentation of early college
completion, transfer hours completed, etc.
- Appeal of Residency Requirement
Students who desire to appeal the residency requirement must submit a letter outlining
their reasons to the Director of Residential Operations, Department of Residential
Living, and students may be required to meet with the Director of Residential Operations
to discuss those reasons. The Director of Residential Operations will then rule on
the Appeal. If the student wishes to appeal that ruling, the student must submit a
letter of appeal to the Residential Living Appeals Board for review at their next
scheduled meeting. The Director of Residence Life chairs the Appeals Board. The Appeals
Board membership includes student, faculty, and staff representatives. Rulings of
the Residential Living Appeals Board are final.
- Appeal of an Early Termination Charge and/or the Housing Cancellation Charge
Students who desire to appeal the terms of the Residence Hall Agreement must submit
a letter outlining their reasons to the Director of Residential Operations, Department
of Residential Living, and students may be required to meet with the Director of Residential
Operations to discuss those reasons. The Director of Residential Operations will then
rule on the Appeal. If the student wishes to appeal that ruling, the student must
submit a letter of appeal to the Residential Living Appeals Board for review at their
next scheduled meeting. The Director of Residence Life chairs the Appeals Board. The
Appeals Board membership includes student, faculty, and staff representatives. Rulings
of the Residential Living Appeals Board are final.