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 freshman 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 or who have an affidavit of domestic partnership, or those students who are themselves 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.

As the policy states, residency will be required as space permits.  For fall 2022, the policy was suspended effective June 13, 2022 as we are reaching full capacity. For Spring 2023, the policy is enforced. This is partially impacted due to West Tower being offline for the 2022-2023 academic year for renovations and some suites remaining offline for isolation and quarantine spaces. 

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.

You and your parents/guardians should fill out the Request for Exemption Form and return it to the University Housing Office. We ask that you submit documentation to ensure this can be verified. Check out the Toolkit link for more information on documentation required.

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 three of the last four 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 to be in a window of 30 days 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 mail. 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 mail 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.

There is not mileage requirement or commuter clause in the policy. You and your family will need to verify, in writing, that you will be living at home. Falsifying that verification can have serious consequences, and University Housing will follow up with potential dishonesty.

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.

We ask that you submit verifiable material (such as a notarized document, proof of address, proof of relation, etc) that our team can review. The more clear your material is, the better chance our team has to review it quickly. The most common documents that are submitted are copies of birth certificates, or court orders of guardianship, or tax return documents that list the student as a dependent.

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 any documentation you think outlines the issue and why the exemption is necessary for the student’s success. A good rule of thumb is to get a medical note outlining the medical reason and rational. 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. The form submitted for a financial appeal should be filled out completely and offer as detailed of an explanation as possible – this will allow for us to get a clear picture of your request. Please submit any documentation that you feel supports the student’s exemption request.

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

The following links take you to various forms that 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)

Official documents need to include the name of the UWM Student and the parent(s) with whom the student will be living.

  • Birth Certificate
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Notarized Letter
  • Tax Forms (If using Tax Return documents, please redact ALL Social Security Numbers and EINs before submitting)

Living with Legal Guardian(s)

Official documents need to include the name of the UWM Student and the guardian(s) with whom the student will be living.

  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Notarized Letter
  • Tax Forms (If using Tax Return documents, please redact ALL Social Security Numbers and EINs before submitting)
  • Letter of Authority or Guardianship from the Courts
  • Written Power of Attorney from the Parent(s)
  • Parent(s)’ Last Will and Testament


Official documents need to include the name of the UWM Student and the student’s spouse.

  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Tax Forms (If using Tax Return documents, please redact ALL Social Security Numbers and EINs before submitting)
  • Marriage License

Domestic Partnership

Official documents need to include the name of the UWM Student and the student’s partner.

  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Declaration of Domestic Partnership

Student is a Custodial Parent

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

  • Child’s Birth Certificate
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Notarized Letter
  • Tax Forms (If using Tax Return documents, please redact ALL Social Security Numbers and EINs before submitting)
  • Letter of Authority or Guardianship from the Courts

Student is a Veteran

  • Form DD214

Significant Medical Circumstance

Official documentation from a medical provider will be required. Medical documentation should be submitted through the Housing Accommodation Application online via

  • Details should be provided on how student’s specific medical circumstance or history impacts their ability to live on campus
    • If exemption request is related to COVID, outline how specific medical circumstance or history increases the risk of COVID exposure in a Housing setting.
  • Documentation should establish the relationship between your request and need based on medical reasons.


  • The FAFSA must be submitted to make this request and the review of your request may take significant additional time (6-8 weeks) depending on FAFSA status.
  • If exemption request is related to COVID, provide documentation to demonstrate the financial hardship as being directly impacted by the pandemic during the contract year you are requesting an exemption.