OLR Research Report

March 26, 2008




By: Gerald Barrett, Legislative Fellow

You asked (1) how UConn's lottery system for awarding campus housing works and (2) how other colleges address student housing shortages.


UConn guarantees housing for students who meet certain criteria, which includes all incoming freshmen. If the number of on-campus housing applications submitted by returning students (generally, juniors or seniors) exceeds the number of spaces available, UConn implements a lottery system.

We performed an Internet search of seven of UConn's peer institutions and found that Georgia, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Rutgers all guarantee housing for incoming freshmen, while Purdue does not. The University of Georgia has a returning student room sign-up, which is similar to UConn's lottery system. Rutgers University implements a lottery system for all returning students who wish to reside on campus. The remaining five universities either do not have on-campus housing shortages or do not offer additional options once housing is filled.

UConn's rural location differentiates it from the seven schools in our survey. This may explain why most of these institutions do not implement a lottery system because overflow students have more housing options close to campus.


UConn guarantees on-campus housing for:

1. (a) incoming freshmen and sophomores (four semesters), (b) transfer students (admitted with housing) and, (c) change-of-campus students who apply on time for housing (two semesters), provided in all cases, the students take the housing when offered;

2. students with documented disabilities for whom living off campus is not a viable option;

3. students holding full university-funded scholarships, students identified as university scholars, or both;

4. study-abroad students, national student exchange students, and students pursuing co-ops and internships;

5. UConn's American English Language Institute students and other students in university-sponsored programs designed to increase international undergraduate student enrollment; and

6. students who return from military obligations:

a. Students away in the fall semester are guaranteed housing in the spring semester.

b. Students away in the spring semester are guaranteed a mechanism to participate in the room selection process for the following academic year or fall semester.

c. Students away in the spring semester are guaranteed housing the preceding fall semester, provided that they notify the housing office by the designated deadline.

When all students guaranteed housing have a place to live, any vacancies are filled by other students who wish to submit an on-campus housing application for the upcoming year. If the number of applications by students (generally, juniors or seniors) exceeds the number of spaces available, UConn implements a lottery.

Housing Lottery

UConn's housing lottery began in 2001 as a way to manage the high demand for the limited number of spaces available to undergraduate students. Students who meet the criteria for guaranteed housing are exempt from the lottery. All remaining students, generally those who have lived on campus for five or six semesters, are entered into the lottery pool. Lottery numbers are randomly assigned to students. Discipline record, GPA, and in-state or out-of-state status do not affect the assignment.


First-year undergraduate students enrolled full-time at the University of Georgia (UGA), are required to live in campus residence halls, unless they are age 21 or live in the surrounding counties.

All returning students who wish to live on campus must register to participate at the college's housing web site. Once students register, they are notified of a date when they are allowed to sign up for housing. They are able to select from any available space on campus not reserved for incoming first-year students.

If more students request on-campus housing than there are spaces available, the housing office selects students to participate in returning student room sign-up based on UGA-earned credit hour information and UGA grade point average.


To guarantee on-campus housing, incoming freshmen and transfer students who wish to live on campus must submit a housing contract. Returning students who live on campus and wish to consider living on campus must reapply for housing and then assign themselves to rooms. Rooms are assigned based on the number of semester hours earned.


New, incoming undergraduate freshman or transfer students must complete a housing contract when they are accepted to the university. This guarantees them a room on campus. Returning students who wish to continue to live on campus must renew their contracts. This allows them to select their own housing assignment for the upcoming year.


University of Minnesota guarantees housing for all incoming freshmen who applied for housing. Returning students must complete an on-line application, indicating their housing preference if they wish to live on campus. Students then receive confirmation with the designated time to choose a room.


Ohio State guarantees housing for all incoming freshmen. If returning students wish to live on campus, they must submit a housing contract by a specified date. Housing is given out to returning students first, then to incoming freshmen. Any remaining rooms are available for transfer students.


Purdue does not guarantee housing for all incoming freshmen although it does give preference to first-semester freshmen choosing to live in on-campus housing. All returning undergraduate students who wish to live on campus for the following year must renew their housing contracts. Students are assigned to accommodations as long as space is available.


Housing is available for all new and transfer students. Only undergraduate students who live on campus are eligible to participate in the housing lottery for the next year. Students who do not live on campus are not eligible to register for the lottery but may join with eligible on-campus students and live on campus. Student interested in on-campus housing for the following year must register online to receive a lottery number. Lottery numbers are assigned randomly to all students except those who wish to enter the single room lottery. The single room lottery takes into consideration the total semester hours earned.