WCU Student Renter and Commuter FAQ in a COVID19 Environment

 

Off Campus and Commuter Services (OCCS) FAQs

What is Advocates for Student Renters Group?

The Advocates for Student Renters Group is a group of WCU student renters who are actively meeting to discuss renting housing in the greater West Chester area. They have advocated for greater flexibility with lease terms, a lower cost for rent, rent relief, and other concerns related to the student rental process. If you are interested in discussing renting off campus with other students, visit their Facebook group.

I signed an off-campus lease for the 2020-2021 academic year. Am I able to get out of my off-campus lease?

A lease is a contract with your property owner. 

1. Start with a conversation with your property owner.


2. If your lease/property owner allows, sublet your rental. You can list your subletting opportunity on Places4Students by visiting this link.


3. Schedule an appointment with WCU Free Student Legal Aid. The lawyer may be able to offer suggestions about the lease terms and how to get out of the lease. Contact Student Legal Aid here for more information.


4. Set up an appointment with Off Campus and Commuter Services by emailing commuters@wcupa.edu and/or Maggie Holroyd at mholroyd@wcupa.edu.

How do I request rent relief?

1. If you filed a FAFSA with 2018 tax information and your parent’s income has been reduced since then, beginning in June (mid-year point of the tax year) you may request a special circumstance review with the Office of Financial Aid. Please email finaid@wcupa.edu or call 610-436-2627 in order to schedule an initial phone interview for consideration.  

2. You can check out the rent relief application the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) is offering. Renters and homeowners who were financially impacted by the economic slowdown related to the coronavirus pandemic are able to access applications for rent and mortgage relief. The applications are available by clicking on the red CARES banner on the PHFA website.


3. You can review the terms of your lease with WCU Free Student Legal Aid. The lawyer may be able to offer suggestions about the lease terms. Contact Student Legal Aid here for more information.


4. You may set up an appointment with Off Campus and Commuter Services by emailing commuters@wcupa.edu and/or Maggie Holroyd at mholroyd@wcupa.edu.


5. You can check out the Advocates for Student Renters Group group page. This group of student renters is actively meeting to discuss renting in the greater West Chester area.

Where do I look for off-campus housing?

1. Start by searching Places4Students.com. In addition to viewing available rentals, Places4Students allows students to search/post for sublets and make roommate connections. Note! *If you are renting with other students in the Borough of West Chester or in West Goshen Township, you must rent in a student-zoned rental.* You can find out if the rental you are considering is student-zoned by asking the property owner.


2. Email commuters@wcupa.edu and/or Maggie Holroyd at mholroyd@wcupa.edu with any questions about renting in the local area.

I am a first-year student living off campus or commuting to WCU this fall

You will learn more information about your life as an off campus and commuter student during orientation this summer. Off Campus and Commuter Services (OCCS) offers specific programs for first-year students. Additionally, OCCS Rambassadors are student mentors who are specifically trained to assist with your transition from home to campus. Email commuters@wcupa.edu if you would like to speak with a Rambassador.

What University resources are available to me as an off campus/commuter student?

WCU’s Department of Off Campus and Commuter Services (OCCS) is offering virtual one-on-one appointments to assist students with any questions. Email commuters@wcupa.edu with questions and/or to set up a virtual one-on-one appointment. OCCS also manages Free Student Legal Aid where students can meet with a lawyer. Students can schedule an appointment with Free Student Legal Aid on MyWCU. In addition, OCCS partners with Places4Students.com where students can view available rentals, search/post for sublets, and make roommate connections. Other University resources include Counseling Services, Health Services, the Campus Library, Sykes Student Union, Campus Rec Center. Please contact each of the departments for modifications of services and hours.

What buildings will I be able to access on campus in the fall? May I access the Commuter Center in Sykes Student Union?

Some campus buildings will be open with limited capacity and potentially modified hours, for example, the library and Sykes Student Union. When hours are confirmed we will post and share widely. The Commuter Center opening will depend on the cleaning of soft furniture in Sykes Student Union to prevent any spreading of COVID-19. More details to come.

Does the University offer free student legal aid?

West Chester University offers free legal services to currently enrolled students. Schedule an appointment with Free Student Legal Aid on MyWCU.

Does the WCU Student Code of Conduct apply to my life off campus/commuting while taking remote classes?

We are asking that you take all necessary and proper steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Student Code of Conduct and expectations of being a responsible citizen to protect our community still apply. Please visit the Student Conduct page for all university regulations and guidelines.

How do I communicate my concerns with others regarding COVID-19?

Good healthy adult communication begins with being honest about sharing space. Consider sharing your concerns about the health risks. If your concern is not respected, please take care of your own health and exercise caution by distancing yourself. Control the controllables!


Stay informed and share resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) FAQ to help keep yourself and others healthy.

I am living with other students off campus during the Fall 2020 semester. What happens if I get sick or one of my roommates gets sick?

If a student is symptomatic, the student will need to call Student Health Services for guidance and/or an appointment with a provider. If a student is symptomatic and is tested for COVID-19, the student should self-report by completing the designated University form. The student and potentially the roommates will be asked to return home if possible. Chester County Health Department (CCHD) will be notified. The CCHD has been responsible for conducting contact tracing and notifying individuals who may have been exposed. See the Fall 2020 FAQ for more information.

Is it recommended to host or participate in social gatherings?

As stated by the U.S. Department of Health, PA Department of Health, and the Chester County Health Department, it is recommended to refrain from social gatherings, including hosting at home, and to practice social distancing of maintaining a 6-foot distance from others as much as possible.

Does social distancing impact social gatherings?

We are expecting students living off campus to refrain from hosting social gatherings that could lead to the transmission of COVID-19. This is a global health emergency that requires all of us to exercise conscientious behavior and compassion toward one another by not engaging in activities that will continue to spread the virus.

If I do not return to my rental property, will my rental be safe?

Whether you are away for a quick trip and/or for parts of the semester, it is always recommended that you inform your neighbors and/or property owner/manager if you will not be returning to your rental property.

Will I still get the two WCU face masks?

Yes, two face masks are available to students. Details about distribution are forthcoming.

I did not sign a lease for Fall 2020, but I may want to live off campus during the Spring 2021 semester. When should I sign a lease and how do I find housing?

We want to empower you to make the best decision for you and your family. OCCS partners with Places4Students.com. In addition to viewing available rentals, Places4Students allows students to search/post for sublets and make roommate connections. The availability for housing and the period for which you can obtain a lease will be managed by individual property owners. Most leases will not provide prorated refunds if students leave mid-lease. An option to consider is trying to negotiate with the landlord for a month-to-month lease. This option may give you more flexibility and, given the circumstances, some landlords may be more willing to negotiate. OCCS will offer information and resources throughout the fall semester to aid in your housing search process.

When should I sign a lease for the 2021-2022 academic year?

We want to empower you to make the best decision for you and your family. We encourage you to begin researching your options early as we know housing becomes increasingly competitive as the academic year progresses. Researching early does not mean you should sign early. Students should pay close attention to the terms of the lease. Schedule an appointment with Free Student Legal Aid to have them review the terms of your lease. OCCS partners with Places4Students.com. In addition to viewing available rentals, Places4Students allows students to search/post for sublets and make roommate connections. OCCS will offer information and resources throughout the fall semester to aid in your housing search process.

May I schedule an individual appointment with Off Campus and Commuter Services (OCCS)?

Off Campus and Commuter Services (OCCS) is offering virtual one-on-one appointments to assist students with any questions. Students have scheduled individual appointments to discuss renting, finding roommates, leases, life off campus, how to find friends, how to access public transportation, etc. Email commuters@wcupa.edu with questions and/or to set up a one on one appointment.

Am I able to meet other students on campus?

Yes, as long as you follow CDC considerations and WCU guidelines.

 

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