Housing Assistance

Cost of Living Supplement

San Francisco has become one of the nation's most expensive places to live. To address this reality, the University is developing more campus housing, but it will take time for all housing units to be completed and open up to students.

The campus recommends that you obtain UCSF campus housing when possible. This provides you with easy access to UCSF’s resources: your classes, libraries, labs and clinics, the shuttle transportation network, fitness centers – and maybe most importantly, your cohort of peers and friends. Campus housing monthly rental rates are cheaper than what you will find off-campus for similar properties. Recently, the campus has invested in new construction, resulting in increased housing access and affordability for students. The transition is easy. Housing Services requires no application fees and no security deposits. You will save hundreds each year on commute costs. If you choose a single room in a shared apartment/house, which is the most budget-friendly option, Housing Services will cover your utility costs. In sum, it is much cheaper to live on campus than off-campus in San Francisco.

To bridge the gap for students enrolled in degree programs who are not living in campus housing, UCSF will continue to offer a need-based program to provide a $2,500 Cost of Living Supplement (COLS) to current and admitted students in the 2022-23 academic year. The COLS may be used, at the student’s discretion, to help pay for housing or associated costs, such as commuting.

The COLS program will be gradually phased out as new campus housing becomes available. See the projected timeline


Students are eligible to apply for the COLS if:

• You are enrolled or will be enrolled Fall 2022 in a UCSF campus-based degree program AND
• You live in California AND
• You are NOT living with parents/relatives AND
• One of the following is true:
   1. You are NOT living in campus housing
   2. You are a continuing student whose two-year term in housing is ending before the start of Fall 2022

Students are not eligible to apply if:

• You are enrolled in a predominantly online program (e.g. DNP and MS-HAIL ).
• You are enrolled in a certificate-only program, such as Nursing Post Masters, ATCR or DPG certificate program only (excluding Post Baccalaureate in dentistry, medicine or pharmacy).
• You have been enrolled in any campus-based degree program for more than five years in any given combination of enrollment.
• You are on a leave of absence from your program.
• You are not a current student. (Postdocs, residents, clinical fellows, faculty members, and other UCSF employees are not eligible for this program.)


Complete and submit the Finaid/COLS Application AND the 2022-23 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 11, 2022, for continuing students, and April 1, 2022, for entering students. (Application deadline will be extended for incoming students that receive login information after April 1, 2022 on a case-by-base basis.)

In order to establish financial need, all students who apply for the COLS must complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA requires students to provide a statement of their personal income and assets as well as information about spousal income and assets if a student is married. The University acknowledges that our students are adults who are independent of their parents. However, to determine the financial need for this program, we must mirror the requirements of federal regulations and campus policy for awarding need-based financial aid. Hence, students under the age of 30 will need to provide parental income and asset information on the FAFSA as well.

Continuing or new financial aid applicants who did not submit parental information on the FAFSA or CSS Profile (current or any prior school year) can return to their online FAFSA and add it. Those who have previously submitted parental information to the Student Financial Services Office in any prior school year need not do so again.

Undocumented, AB540-eligible students may apply but should contact the Student Financial Services Office for further instructions after submitting the COLS application. Undocumented, AB540-eligible students may apply and should complete the (paper) FAFSA Worksheet, including parental information as indicated above.  The FAFSA Worksheet should be submitted directly to the Student Financial Services Office.  

International Students

  • International students should complete the FAFSA only if they have a valid Social Security Number (SSN). Students who do not have a Social Security Number should contact the Student Financial Services Office for further instructions after submitting the COLS application.
  • Receiving funds from the COLS program may have an impact on the aid that international students receive from their home country, home institution, or sponsoring organization. Please consult with your sponsors before applying for COLS.
  • International students will need to complete tax documents and set up a bank account in the United States in order to receive fund distribution from COLS.


Students who are awarded the COLS will be notified after August 31, 2022, and receive a one-time payment on November 1, 2022. The supplement, like all stipends and scholarships, will be considered taxable income by the IRS.


Funding for the COLS program will come from a philanthropic gift for student support together with contributions from UCSF Health and the UCSF schools. This program is set to expire in the fall of 2023. See the timeline


Send your questions about COLS to [email protected]