Resource Guide for Parents

Resource Guide > Student Life >

Housing and Dining
Quick Reference: Student Life

Berkeley offers a variety of housing and dining options. Approximately one-third of all students live in university residence halls, fraternities, sororities, International House, cooperatives, and family student housing. The remaining students live in rooms and apartments in the community.

Students should acquaint themselves with the various living options and deadlines for submitting applications. Those seeking housing in the community should consult with a Cal Rentals counselor about when to begin an off-campus housing search. Wherever your students live, they should be particularly alert to safety. Remind them to pay careful attention to the security of their room and to be cognizant of earthquake and fire safety features.

University-operated residence halls currently accommodate more than 6,000 students, both lower and upper division. Housing is guaranteed to all new, incoming fall freshmen and transfers who apply by the deadline. Incoming fall freshmen are guaranteed residence hall housing for their second year as well. The university makes every effort to accommodate students’ preferences.

Students living in the residence halls are expected to adhere to the Residential Conduct Code.

Each residence hall is unique. Most are coed, and most offer dining facilities, recreational and social programs, and study rooms. Some university housing options feature theme programs that provide a living environment focused on a language or culture. Most residence halls are located within a few blocks of campus.

Each room is furnished with a bed, desk, study chair, dresser, and closet or wardrobe. Additionally, the following equipment, features, and services are standard in most residence halls:

Computer network connections in every room give students access to the Internet. Live-in residential computing staff will assist with hookup, support, and training.

  • Carpets, extra-long twin beds, dressers, desks, closets, and mirrors in all rooms.
  • In-room telephone lines. Students must supply their own telephones.
  • Residence hall staff, who can help students take full advantage of life on campus and ease the transition from home to group living.
  • Academic programs, services, and centers that are an integral part of your students’ learning experience.
  • Dining centers for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner.
  • Basic cable TV service, free of charge.

Students should bring their own pillows and bedding for extra-long twin beds, collapsible luggage for ease of storage, desk lamps, extension cords, and answering machines. They should also bear in mind that most rooms are double or triple occupancy and have limited space.

The residence halls are closed during semester breaks. Students may leave their possessions in their rooms; however, they may want to make special arrangements for valuables. The halls remain open during spring break, although the dining commons are closed. Students remaining on campus during spring break can use their meal cards in campus dining facilities.

The Cal Rentals Office offers rental listings and assistance to students looking for housing in the community.

Co-ops offer another housing alternative. The University Students’ Cooperative Association (USCA) is a nonprofit, student-owned and operated organization that is independent of the university. Co-ops house approximately 1,200 students in about 20 houses and apartments. Members are required to contribute regular work shifts. Contracts may be cancelled at the end of each semester. Priority for admission is given to Educational Opportunity Program and disabled students. Students interested in co-op housing should contact USCA early for application information.

International House provides housing for about 575 students, half of them international and half of them domestic. I-House is primarily a graduate student residence but also accommodates visiting scholars as well as some juniors and seniors.

Fraternities and sororities have traditionally provided family-style living for their members. Sororities require that women be members in order to live in their houses, but some fraternities now offer surplus housing to nonmembers. To become a “Greek,” students must participate in recruitment, which typically takes place the first week of each semester.

Meal plans for students who live in the residence halls or off campus are available for purchase from Cal Dining. Students may purchase meal plan “points” for use at 13 Cal Dining locations, at weekly produce stands, and at an online bulk grocery.

Students in residence halls will be afforded a standard plan of 1250 points per semester, which provides them an average of 12-14 meals per week. The premium plan provides an average of 16-20 meals per week. The cost for both plans is included in room and board.

Nonresidential meal plans range from 650 points per semester for an average of 5-6 meals per week to 1200 points per semester for an average of 9-11 meals per week. Students may add more points at any time. Details about these plans are available at

Next article: Financial Information (or, return to the complete Table of Contents)


Cal Parents | Letter Home | Resource Guide for Parents | Parents Fund for Cal

Alumni, Parents & Friends | Visitor Services | Campus News

Copyright UC Regents. All rights reserved.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail