Messages from the University

Washington University Fall Opening Update: Residential Life

July 31, 2020

Dear Students, 
Following the Chancellor’s announcement this morning, you may have questions as it relates to housing. In response to the current public health situation and recommendations from medical and public health professionals, the university has made the decision to move to single bed room occupancy in all residential buildings. While we normally guarantee housing to all students during all four years, that will not be possible in the current environment because of health and safety concerns and the need to de-densify our campus. There will be some students – juniors and seniors – who were planning to live in Residential Life housing who will have to make alternative plans for the fall. Unfortunately, all housing contracts previously submitted by juniors and seniors will not be accepted, and there will be an addendum required for sophomore students who have submitted a contract. Priority will be given to those with special circumstances, and depending on our overall cancellation numbers, we may have additional housing spaces become available that we will assign by a waitlist system.

Here is how we will prioritize housing assignments:

  • First-year students are guaranteed housing and will live on the South 40, which is where all new students live during their first year, every year. Even though everyone will be living in single rooms, we will attempt to honor existing roommate requests by assigning those students near or adjacent to each other.
  • All sophomores who submitted a housing contract with Residential Life will be provided with housing, but very few will live in the rooms they were assigned in the spring. Sophomores will be assigned across the South 40, the North Side, and some will reside off-campus. We will work to try to keep groups together as much as possible.
  • Juniors and seniors who request housing through Residential Life will be assigned through a special housing selection process, although we cannot guarantee a housing assignment. We know that some students face difficult personal situations and it is our goal to ensure that those students who were planning to live with us in the fall still have comfortable options. Junior and senior international students who were planning to live in Residential Life housing and who are unable to return to their permanent residences will be provided with housing. Additionally, we will consider a student’s health and medical needs, financial circumstances, the safety of a student’s home situation or other individual situations where it is determined that the only reasonable option for a student is for them to return to campus housing. We will review cases and make decisions in a way that is trauma-informed, student-centered, and that prioritizes support for our most vulnerable students. In almost all cases, juniors and seniors will be required to live off campus. 

Housing Assignments Changes 

Following the cancellation deadline, Residential Life will assess availability of housing and make available an active housing waitlist for juniors and seniors who do not have extenuating circumstances, but wish to return to campus.
To manage the need to reduce density and provide students with single-room living options, the Residential Life has secured approximately 450 additional beds near campus. These units will be assigned directly by the Residential Life and they are located in apartments near campus, Everly on the Loop, and the Moonrise Hotel. All of these options are fully furnished and shuttle service will be available to and from campus. Additionally, housing rates for the fall have been temporarily adjusted to simplify the overall rate structure. There will be a traditional housing single rate, a modern housing single rate, and an apartment rate. 

Any sophomore who previously submitted a housing contract and who is now no longer interested in a Residential Life assignment should cancel their housing contract by 5 p.m. CDT August 5. Housing assignments for those with existing contracts who do not cancel by August 5 will be finalized by August 24. Following the release of assignments, those students will have until 5 p.m. CDT on August 31 to cancel their housing contract without penalty. To cancel your housing contract:

  1. Log onto your WashU Housing Portal
  2. Select request forms
  3. Select room cancellation from drop down
  4. Choose the appropriate contract cancellation for Fall 2020 – Spring 2021 and complete the remaining steps.

Special Housing Selection Process

The Special Housing Selection Process was created for two purposes:

  1. Waitlist – To allow rising juniors and seniors who are interested in living in Residential Life housing to add their names to a waitlist. 
  2. Exception Process – To provide an option for rising juniors and seniors who are experiencing significant hardship, are in an extenuating circumstance, and who believe they absolutely cannot live at home or off-campus in non-Residential Life housing, to apply for Residential Life housing through an exception process. If your situation does not meet this criteria, we ask that you refrain from applying. It is expected that all other alternatives have been examined, including participating in remote learning at your permanent residence and finding housing at non-Residential Life options before submitting an application to this process. 

Special Housing Selection Process Timeline:

  • Friday, July 31, 9:00 a.m.CDT the application will open (scroll down for link)
  • Monday, August 10, 11:59 p.m. CDT the application will close for requests.
  • Tuesday, August 11 – Friday, August 14 the committee will review all requests. 
  • Monday, August, 17 decisions will be communicated via WUSTL email. 

More information and how to apply to the waitlist and exception process can be found on our Special Housing Selection website.

Remaining Storage Items for Returning Students

If you are a sophomore who is choosing to return to St. Louis and your belongings were packed and stored by the University following your departure in March 2020, your items will be delivered to your designated fall room assignment prior to your arrival. Rising juniors and seniors who will be living in non-Residential Life properties and had a Residential Life housing contract will be able to select an option to have their belongings shipped to them in the St. Louis area free of cost. 
If you choose not to return to St. Louis for the 2020 fall semester, the University will continue to safely store your belongings through September 30, 2020 as communicated in previous emails to students. We encourage you to contact the appropriate moving company to make alternative arrangements. You are able to schedule a time for pick-up from the storage facility, choose to have items shipped home, or extend the time your items are in storage. You are responsible for all associated costs with these options. 

Moving to Campus this Fall

As you begin to make plans for move-in, keep the following in mind when coordinating your travel to St. Louis this fall. 

  • First-Year student move-in will take place beginning on Friday, September 4 and continue through Sunday, September 6
  • Returning student move-in will take place beginning on Wednesday, September 9 and continue through Sunday, September 12

All students will be administratively assigned a move-in day that will be shared by Friday, August 14 on your individual WashU Housing Portal. To monitor the number of students moving in throughout the day, move-in arrivals will be managed by timeslot to maintain safety protocols in response to COVID-19. Your move-in time will be updated following the release of your housing assignment. More move-in information will be available at a later date on the Residential Life website. We will not be taking requests for individual early arrivals. 

As you begin to evaluate your needs for the upcoming semester, we ask that you are flexible in the shared commitment for safety. If you have any questions about housing for the upcoming year, review our frequently asked questions here before reaching out to our office. Additionally, we can be reached by email at We ask that you are patient in receiving responses as we work to support and provide accurate and timely responses.

Office of Residential Life