University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

University Housing


First Year Residency Requirement

Exemption Request Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have heard from previous/current students that there is no residency requirement. Is this true?

A: 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.

Q: I'm transferring to UWM. Do I have to live in the residence halls?

A: The policy only applies to first-time students who are full-time as 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.

Q: I'm going to be a first year student, but plan on living at home with my parents, what should I do?

A: Prior to the start of the Housing Contract Process, you and your parents/guardians can fill out the Request for Exemption Form and return it to the University Housing Office. We asked that you submit documentation to ensure this can be verified. Check out the Toolkit link for more information on documentation required.

Q: If students are being required to live in University Housing residence halls, is there any reason why I should be completing the contract early? Isn't housing guaranteed?

A: 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.

Q: I have submitted my exemption request to University Housing – now what?

A: 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.

Q: What does the exemption request team look at when considering appeals?

A: 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.

Q: Since submitting my exemption request my circumstances have changed – what should I do?

A: 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 update University Housing on your status.  A copy of your admission letter to the new University should also be sent to University Housing and be attached to your exemption request.

Q: I have submitted an exemption request based on living with an approved family member and/or parent or guardian – what documentation should I provide?

A: 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.

Q: I'm going to live at home, but we live in Waukesha, more than 30 miles away. Am I still eligible for an exemption?

A: 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.

Q: I have submitted an exemption request based on a medical issue – what documentation should I provide?

A: 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.

Q: I have submitted an exemption request based on financial issues – what factors does the team consider and what documentation should I provide?

A: 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.

Q: I've read that students that live in residence halls perform better academically. Is that true, or is it just a sales pitch?

A: 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 recent 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.