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The high-rise dorms, Harnwell (left), Harrison (center), and Rodin (right) College Houses serve as on-campus upperclassman housing. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Approximately 800 students were placed on the Penn Residential Services waitlist for on-campus housing for the 2024-2025 academic year — an increase from last year.

Penn allocates 900 spots for on-campus housing for juniors and seniors, with first-year students and sophomores required to live on campus under a policy that went into effect in fall 2021. Of the students placed on the waitlist — which means that they were not originally selected for on-campus housing — approximately 500 are rising juniors and 300 are rising seniors. 

Last year, 720 rising juniors and seniors were placed on the waitlist, and the University said it allocated around 950 spots for on-campus housing to rising juniors and seniors.

Applicants are randomly selected to be either given a room selection slot or placed on the housing waitlist. An automated system then goes through the student housing database and picks applicants at random to assign timeslots, according to Associate Director of Housing Occupancy Melissa Dunlap. 

Many students who applied for on-campus housing initially received an email on Dec. 15 from Residential Services informing them that they had been placed on the waitlist, with a follow-up email sent on Jan. 12, and another scheduled for Jan. 23, according to the Jan. 12 email. The emails also contained the next steps for students to take if they wish to remain on the waitlist.

Director of Residential Services Pat Killilee told The Daily Pennsylvanian that Residential Services is open to meeting and connecting students with helpful resources — particularly in the case of extenuating circumstances that have not yet been shared. Killilee also suggested that students who are currently on the waitlist reach out to Off-Campus Services, a resource for both Penn undergraduates and graduates.

Off-Campus Services will sponsor a virtual housing fair on March 21, at which students can speak with local landlords and explore off-campus housing options. 

Associate Director for Off-Campus Services Linda Kromer will also lead five housing information sessions in February.

“We go over understanding your lease, knowing the differences in leases, and pointing out some very important components of a lease,” Kromer wrote in a statement to the DP. “I do a demonstration of how to search the database, and there is a Q&A.” 

Despite the concerns that students may have, Killilee insisted that there are attractive housing options near campus that will be available heading into the summer.

“A lot of students will hear that if they don't sign the lease for the next year by October, there won't be any housing, and that's just not true,” Killilee said. 

Several students told the DP that they are stressed about being placed on the waitlist, and are feeling uncertain about where they will live for the next academic year. 

“[L]iving off campus isn’t always a guarantee,” Engineering sophomore Kayla Bleier said. “Finding houses that are in my price range and finding people that I want to live with aren’t a guarantee, so it kind of feels like there is this threat — or this looming fear — of being homeless.”

College sophomore Keanu Natan similarly shared his frustration with finding off-campus housing.

“The process was long and tedious [to find off-campus housing],” Natan said. “Most of the people I knew got waitlisted, so planning with roommates was difficult. I wish they’d run the lottery earlier in the year so you can plan things out more clearly.”

College sophomore Helena Giner also shared her frustration with not receiving a timeslot for on-campus housing while her planned roommates received them.

Residential Services will not know more details about the waitlist until early February, according to Dunlap and Kililee. Both students who were given a room selection slot and students on the waitlist may find off-campus housing, changing the makeup of the waitlist. 

Penn Business Services Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea-Kruger added that students should “understand that the waitlist is really in flux right now.”

Residential Services still recommends that students on the waitlist — who still need housing — fill out the room selection application opening on Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. and closing on Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. to make students eligible for a timeslot should they be removed from the waitlist.

Upperclassmen who will live on campus also have the option to live in the Axis, which was recently leased by Penn Residential Services to accommodate more upperclassmen during the renovations to the Quad. The Radian will also continue to be leased for undergraduate students of all ages — continuing a policy from August 2023.

Gutmann College House will become a four-year college house for the next academic year to accommodate some of the first-year students who would have otherwise lived in the Quad — as the second phase of the Quad renovation shifts to Ware College House. 624 first-year students will be relocated, which is 170 more than those who were relocated when Riepe was under construction this year.