Some landlords still have available units as second-years can apply for COVID-19 related on-campus housing exemptions. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Former Managing Editor for Multimedia

For the first time since 2016, second-year students at Ohio State are able to opt out of on-campus living for the upcoming academic year for reasons aside from having nearby family or finances, and some landlords still have availability for fall off-campus housing.

The change, announced in a June 3 press release, is designed to reduce the population density in residence halls amid COVID-19. Second-year students planning to live off campus must file for an exemption to the on-campus living requirement by Wednesday.

Dave Isaacs, university spokesperson, said in an email that primary reasons for student-requested exemptions are living with a close parent or relative, financial hardship, medical accommodations (additional documentation may be requested), and now 2020-21 COVID-19 special consideration (e.g., inability to guarantee previously selected room, roommate or building). Isaacs said there is a place on the form for students to provide a more detailed explanation.

There is no estimate on how many students will file to opt-out of on-campus housing, Isaacs said. About 14,000 students lived on-campus this spring prior to move-out due to COVID-19. 

For those choosing to live on-campus, Isaacs said population density will be reduced in residence halls and the criteria for how many students will live in each hall will promote physical distancing.

Imani McCormick, a second-year in sociology, said she would rather live off campus because of coronavirus-related health concerns.

“Living off campus gives me a little bit more control of what I’m around, who I’m around, even just the food and water that I’m drinking,” McCormick said. 

McCormick said she signed a lease after starting her search on and Google Maps, then finally heading directly to the site of her apartment complex to choose.

McCormick said she is a bit concerned about her roommates, because she doesn’t know who they are or how they will be living together.  She said the benefit to on-campus living is easy access to classes, friends and activities. 

Jackson Corbisello, a second-year in biomedical engineering, said a big financial relief comes with having the option to live off campus this year, since the financial burden of paying for room and board is nearly halved. 

Residence halls can cost between $3,371 and $4,329 per semester depending on the rate, according to the University Housing website.

Corbisello said he has already signed a lease for a property he quickly found through the website ADOBO, an apartment listing service. 

Corbisello said that being off-campus and cooking his own food will be an adjustment, since he was used to having prepared meals on campus. 

“I honestly enjoyed living on campus more than going home because I knew that I could go somewhere and there’d be  a meal ready that I wouldn’t have to make,” Corbisello said. 

University Village has about 300 units left for August move-in, an employee at the company said. Rates vary for all remaining units, with one-bedroom apartments starting at $765 per month and three-bedroom apartments starting at $1,170 per month. The rates for these units are based on the number of bedrooms, not the number of tenants in the apartment.

The available properties are located 1.5 miles from campus on Olentangy River Road. Buses run seven days a week and have seven stops on Ohio State’s campus and five stops in the apartment neighborhood. 

Inn Town Homes & Apartments has about 25 of its 550 units remaining, a representative of the company said. Of these available units, only two have three-bedrooms and the rest are two-bedroom apartments. 

Prices vary widely in terms of amenities, size, number of bedrooms and utilities. All remaining units are three to five blocks from campus. Some apartments are in Iuka Park Commons, near Northwood Avenue and 4th Street, while others are on 12th Avenue near 4th Street. 

Tom Heilman, owner of Hometeam Properties, said it has around 100 units left, which are mostly one to four bedroom apartments and very few individual houses. 

Prices range from $375 per month to around $1,000 per month for luxury apartments. The majority of available units surround campus.

OSU Properties has rented out all of its units for the 2020-2021 term. Pella Company and Buckeye Real Estate did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

For more information on available off-campus housing, students can also access the Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services website and search its database. 

Isaacs said that students choosing to opt-out should still try to connect to on-campus resources.

“It is a firm foundation that being involved in campus activities, interactions with professors and that immersion in the campus life is important for success,” Isaacs said.