A New Program Lets College Students Live Rent-Free, But There's A Catch

They get to live with all seniors. Literally.

With the cost of higher education on a seemingly endless rise over the past couple decades, universities know that a good deal can be just as much of a selling point as a good pre-med program or a beautiful campus is. It's why Stanford recently announced it will offer free tuition to families earning less than $125K per year.


Now a few universities around the globe are offering free housing through a creative "intergenerational" housing alternative that places students in senior living facilities.

One such program in the Netherlands is gaining notoriety for allowing college kids to live for free at the Humanitas retirement home. PBS NewsHour reports students in the program get "small, rent-free apartments" in the facility in exchange for spending at least 30 hours per month acting as "good neighbors" to the elderly residents, which entails anything from watching TV with them to spending time with them when they are ill.

"The students bring the outside world in, there is lots of warmth in the contact," Humanitas head Gea Sijpkes told PBS.

Six students from nearby universities have enrolled in the program and live among roughly 160 seniors. But PBS points out that similar programs are underway in Lyons, France and in several cities across Spain. There's one in Cleveland, Ohio as well.

Many schools offer free housing for upperclassmen and grad students in exchange for living with freshmen as RAs or counselors, so this idea isn't so bizarre. Both approaches reduce housing costs for students while providing a free but valuable service to the community. And in this case, think of the hidden benefits -- you'd get so much more studying done and sleep so much better thanks to the quiet neighbors.