UCSF to Offer Housing Supplement to Help Students Facing High Rents

By Jeannine Cuevas

2 students talking in front of a picture window overlooking the Sunset district
School of Medicine students Jirayut Latthivongskorn and Mayra Cruz talk in the UCSF Library. Photo by Steve Babuljak

UC San Francisco has created a new, need-based Cost of Living Supplement (COLS) pilot program for students to help offset the high cost of rental housing in the city.

Through the program, all students enrolled in degree programs who are not living in campus housing are eligible to apply for a $2,400 annual supplement. The supplement could be used, at the student’s discretion, to help pay for rental housing or associated costs, such as commuting.

"We fully recognize that this Cost of Living Supplement is not a comprehensive resolution of the housing problem for the UCSF community. We also understand that $2,400 won't be enough to address all financial problems, but we hope that it will be enough to make a tangible difference," said Elizabeth Watkins, PhD, vice chancellor for Student Academic Affairs.

Affordable Housing at UCSF

Read the latest updates about UCSF's efforts to ensure that it remains an affordable place to work and learn.

In recent years, San Francisco’s rental prices have sharply increased as the economy has flourished and tens of thousands of new residents have flocked to the city. Campus leaders have recognized that the housing crunch threatens UCSF’s ability to attract and retain the best students, trainees, faculty and staff, and have been working on solutions to this crisis. As first step, they identified the need to help mitigate the cost of student housing.

UCSF’s current Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), adopted by the UC Regents in November 2014, calls for more than doubling the amount of housing at Parnassus and Mission Bay campuses by 2035, and recent acquisitions and partnerships could mean the addition of even more student housing by 2025. While these are encouraging long-term solutions, the need is urgent.

"We’ve heard our students loud and clear — it's hard for them to afford to live in San Francisco, where the rents are skyrocketing," said Watkins.

To help bridge the gap until sufficient campus housing is available, UCSF established the COLS program, which will support an estimated 1,500 students starting in 2016-17.

Funding for the COLS program will come from a philanthropic gift for student support, together with contributions from UCSF Health and the UCSF schools. The supplement will be provided to as many students as can be accommodated by the designated resources.

To be eligible for the supplement, students must be enrolled in a UCSF campus-based degree program and must live in the Bay Area. Students who are enrolled in online programs and those who have been registered in any program for more than five years will also be ineligible for the supplement.

Apply to the Program

Current and incoming students can learn more about Cost of Living Supplement program on the Financial Aid website, or through upcoming town hall events:

Mission Bay
Monday, May 9, 12 to 1 p.m.
Byers Auditorium, Genentech Hall

Tuesday, May 10, 12 to 1 p.m.
Health Sciences West, Rm 301