Residency Requirement

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee requires all first-time freshmen to live in University Housing residence halls, where availability allows.

The specific policy states:

“Those freshmen who are not veterans, married or living with parents or guardian shall be required to live in a University operated Residence Hall when such accommodations are available*.”

Ample research across the United States over the last 30 years has provided compelling evidence that students who live in university-provided housing perform better academically, and enjoy a higher degree of satisfaction with their college experience, than students who live off-campus or commute.

The UWM policy is consistent with the policy of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents Policy #24-2.

Specifically, the UWM residency policy applies to students who are first-time freshmen AND are 20 years of age or younger as of September 1 at the beginning of the academic year in question.

The following students are eligible to request an exemption from the residency requirement: those living with parents or guardians, those who are 21 years of age or older (as of 9/1), veterans, students who are married, new students who are two years post high school graduation date, or those students who are themselves custodial parents.

In addition, students with extreme financial or personal hardships may also request an exemption from the residency requirement.

Students and families are encouraged to read the Frequently Asked Questions section below for more information related to the residency policy. In addition, you may contact the University Housing Office at (414) 229-4065 or

Residency FAQs

The policy was new to UWM for students entering in for the 2012-2013 Academic Year. While the UW System Policy had existed for nearly 40 years, UWM did not have the capacity to accommodate the entire first-year class, and therefore was exempt. With the opening of Cambridge Commons Residence Hall in Fall 2010, UWM can now accommodate the entire first-year class, and therefore, implemented the policy shared by the vast majority of University of Wisconsin four-year institutions.

The policy only applies to first-time students who are freshmen. Ensuring that the Department of Enrollment Services ( has your transfer information and supporting documents will ensure that you are not subject to the residency policy.

For our incoming transfer students, we find that many enjoy living in the Transfer Community, Sandburg East Tower, or Kenilworth Square Apartments.

Your parent/guardian must digitally sign the online proxy agreement in your Housing Portal after you complete your contract, confirming the relationship and the address where you (the student) will be living. An email will automatically be sent to your parent/guardian with a link to the proxy agreement once you have submitted your application for exemption.

There is an advantage to completing your contract earlier. Because our room assignment process is both random and by preferences, submitting a contract by the first lottery date (usually late-Spring) will give you the best chance at getting one of your preferred room assignments.

University Housing has run out of spaces in past years. If you want to live on campus, completing your contract before the priority deadline is the only way to make sure you have a space in University Housing.

University Housing has a team dedicated to the exemption request process. The team meets weekly and will review exemption requests on a first come, first serve basis. Once the team has reviewed the exemption request a decision letter will be generated and sent to the student requesting the exemption. Please be advised that University Housing will contact you once the request for exemption has been received and again when a decision has been made. We expect this turn-around time to be one week and will update students should it take any longer. Please understand we may be dealing with a large volume of exemption requests and we will process them as quickly as possible.

Also – please watch your UWM email, or check your messages in your Housing Portal. In the event your request does not have enough information or evidence, you will be contacted to ask for additional materials. Make sure you are opening all email from UWM.

When looking at exemption requests the team takes into account a variety of factors including potential success of the student in all areas, financial situation and compatibility with University Housing rules, regulations and contractual obligations. When necessary we partner with other areas of campus, including Financial Aid and the Accessibility Resource Center, to ensure we’re considering all factors in the exemption request.

Please submit any necessary material and/or documentation to the University Housing Office ( or mail to 3400 N. Maryland Ave., Milwaukee, WI  53211) outlining the changes in your circumstance; these will be added to your exemption request file. The team will then re-review your file.

If you have accepted admission to another University and are withdrawing from UWM, please update University Housing on your status.

There is no mileage requirement or commuter clause in the policy. You and your family will need to verify, through signing of the proxy agreement in your Housing Portal, that you will be living at home. Falsifying that verification can have serious consequences, and University Housing will follow up with potential dishonesty.

No additional documentation is needed. The next step will be for your parent/guardian to digitally sign the online proxy agreement in your Housing Portal, confirming the relationship and the address where you (the student) will be living. An email will automatically be sent to your parent/guardian, based on the information you provided on your contract, with a link to the proxy agreement.

University Housing partners with the UWM Accessibility Resource Center to review any issues related to a student’s medical history that may impact their potential for success in University Housing. Please submit an application for accommodation with ARC in addition to the exemption form. Apply online at

You will be required to provide documentation that clearly outlines your disability and supporting reasons as to why the exemption is necessary for the student’s success. All of your medical files are protected under HIPAA guidelines and will be kept confidential.

We recognize each student has a different and unique financial situation. Based on this, our team works closely with the Financial Aid Office to ensure we’re considering the whole picture of the student’s potential ability to live successfully in University Housing. You must have completed your FAFSA to make this request and the review of your request may take significant additional time.

Quite simply, it is true. Looking at the most recent data here at UWM, students in University Housing achieved “Satisfactory Performance” at a rate of 79.1%, while commuters were at a rate of 65.1%. In terms of GPA impact, a study performed at a state school in Indiana appeared in the Economics Bulletin^ and found that the effect was between .19 and .97 GPA points.

Pedro de Araujo and James Murray, (2010) “Estimating the effects of dormitory living on student performance”, Economics Bulletin, Vol. 30 no. 1 pp. 866-878.

Residency Policy Tool Kit

To complete and submit a Residency Requirement Exemption Request, please go to your Housing Portal and click on Exemption Request in the top menu (as seen in photo below).

Housing Portal home page

The following links may be of assistance to you in the residency policy exemption process.

To assist you with completing the residency policy exemption process, here are some examples of documents that can be used to verify your exempt status. They are sorted by type of exemption. Generally, a student will only need to present ONE of the available options to verify an exemption.

Living with Parent(s) or Legal Guardian(s)

Parent or Legal Guardian’s digital signature on the proxy agreement within student’s online Housing Portal confirming the relationship and the address where the student will be living. No additional documents are needed.


Official document needs to include the name of the UWM Student and the student’s spouse.

  • Copy of Marriage Certificate

Student is a Custodial Parent

Official documents need to include the name of the UWM Student and the student’s child(ren).

  • Copy of Child’s Birth Certificate
  • Letter of Authority or Guardianship from the Courts

Student is a Veteran

  • Form DD214 confirming your veteran status – only needed if exemption was not administratively granted based on PAWS data (ie. PAWS has not been updated).

Significant Medical Circumstance

  • Medical Accommodation for exemption from the Board of Regent policy. Please visit the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) website at for more information and to complete the ARC application. A documentation form should also be completed uploaded to your ARC application.
    • Details should be provided on how student’s specific medical circumstance or history impacts their ability to live on campus.
    • Documentation should establish the relationship between your request and need based on medical reasons.

If you have questions about documentation or would like to learn more about services and accommodations, please contact ARC at (414) 229-6287 or email


  • The FAFSA must be submitted prior to making this request. Review (through Student Financial Services) of your request may take significant additional time (6-8 weeks) depending on FAFSA status.