The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matters to you in your college or graduate school search.
Most first-year students go through a significant adjustment as they transition to college life, but those who commute often experience an additional set of challenges.
Commuters may face long travel times, financial stress from having to buy things like gas and food, and limited schedule options for classes and student groups, for example. Students who commute, especially as freshmen, may also feel they are missing out on the full college experience and deal with feelings of isolation when they see their peers living on campus.
However, students who commute freshman year may find support and solidarity among fellow commuter students, and at some colleges, a majority of first-year students live off campus or commute.
Among these 11 National Universities — schools that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and doctoral programs — an average of about 78% of first-time, first-year students lived off campus or commuted in 2018-2019. At 98%, CUNY–City College had the highest percentage of first-year students living off campus or commuting among the 308 ranked National Universities that responded to a U.S. News survey.
These colleges with the most freshman commuters are located in states across the country: California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Ohio.
The average percentage of first-year students who lived off campus or commuted among all ranked National Universities that reported this data is much lower, at about 21%. Some colleges require students to live on campus freshman year and many guarantee on-campus housing to first-year students.
Below is a list of the 11 National Universities with the highest percentages of first-year students who lived off campus or commuted for the 2018-2019 school year, including ties. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report. This data was gathered prior to the coronavirus pandemic, which may affect the number of students who choose to live off campus or commute in the coming academic year.
|School (state)||Percentage of first-year students living off campus or commuting||Total estimated first-year commuters||U.S. News rank|
|CUNY–City College||98%||1,793||228 (tie)|
|Louisiana Tech University||95%||2,072||272 (tie)|
|California State University–Fresno||87%||2,834||211 (tie)|
|University of Michigan–Flint||78%||500||293-381|
|Florida International University||77%||3,035||218 (tie)|
|University of New Mexico||76%||1,973||218 (tie)|
|University of New Orleans||75%||752||293-381|
|Rutgers University–Newark (NJ)||73%||962||132 (tie)|
|Northern Kentucky University||69%||1,343||293-381|
|University of Illinois–Chicago||67%||2,753||132 (tie)|
|Cleveland State University||67%||1,304||293-381|
Don’t see your school on the list? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find off-campus living and commuting data, complete rankings and much more. Sign up for the U.S. News Extra Help: College Admissions free email newsletter to receive expert advice twice a month.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,900 colleges and universities for our 2019 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News’ data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News’ rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The off-campus living and commuting data above is correct as of July 28, 2020.
More from U.S. News