Managing Your Finances

Off-Campus Living often comes with additional financial responsibility. Before you decide to move off-campus, make sure that you are prepared for the financial commitment and planning. Build a flexible budget and live within your means.


Developing an Off-Campus Budget

Budgeting for the first time as a college student can be confusing because you may not have a steady flow of income, and you may have several large expenses due at the beginning of the semester. An easy way to approach budgeting is to separate your fixed income/expenses (once per semester) and your recurring monthly expenses.

Subtract your fixed expenses from your fixed income and determine how much is left over. Divide the money left over by the number of months you need to budget for, then add that to your recurring montly income. This will help you gauge about how much money you have to pay your recurring expenses each month.


Most leases are for twelve months. If you are not planning to be here for part of that time, negotiate a shorter lease with your landlord, find another student to sublease (if allowed), or budget to pay the rent while you aren't here. You are still responsible for rent and utilities!

Tracking Income/Expenses

Fixed Income

  • Scholarships/Grants
  • Savings
  • Loans

Fixed Expenses

  • Tuition, Books, and Fees
  • Meal Plan
  • Parking Permit
  • Membership Dues


Recurring Income

  • Paycheck
  • Allowance
  • Stipend

Recurring Expenses

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Renter's Insurance
  • Car Payment & Car Insurance
  • Groceries & Eating Out Recreation & Entertainment
  • Household Purchases
  • Medical Expenses/Health Insurance


When you live on-campus, all of your housing charges are put on your student account and any available financial aid you have is applied towards that balance. If you live off-campus, you are responsible for making housing related payments directly to your landlord or utility provider, as they will not be charged to your student account.

If you are expecting a Financial Aid refund, you can use that refund to pay for the expenses of being a student, including off-campus housing expenses. Rent and utility charges are usually due monthly, so you will need to budget accordingly to make the money last.

Each student's financial aid eligibility and package can differ, so we encourage you to check with the Financial Aid Office about your particular situation.

Utilities typically include Internet, cable, phone, electricity, gas, water, sewage, and trash. Some landlords will absorb these costs in your rent, so it is important to ask what is included before you sign your lease.

Most utilities are billed monthly to one individual, so if you are living with friends you will have to decide whose name the different utilities will go in. Be aware that utilities may require an activation fee or a deposit, so plan accordingly. Ask about utility late fees and early termination fees as well so you fully understand your obligations. Pay all of your utilities by the deadlines so late payments do not affect your credit score.

There is a fundamental difference between living on-campus or at home versus living off-campus in an apartment. At home your family is probably not likely to evict you because you missed a payment; even when you live on campus there are extensions and staff members who can provide you assistance with your circumstances.

If you miss a bill while living off-campus, the consequences could be having your electricity turned off, hits on your credit score, or even worse, eviction!

Have a rental issue?

The City of Norfolk has partnered with ODU to provide assistance to students facing rental issues. Send an email to to be referred to a Landlord/Tenant Specialist, who may be able to assist you in resolving your issue.