An Undergraduate’s Guide to SMART Housing at UT Austin

by Megan Mills

The Quarters on Campus has six West Campus locations that offer SMART housing to qualifying students.

Have you found your dream apartment, but you’re unsure how you’re going to afford it? Austin is a great place to live, but as the fastest-growing major metropolitan city in the country, it can be quite pricey.

At Waterloo, we understand that housing can be expensive. Therefore, we have provided a guide to help you fit it into your budget.

In this article, we will answer all your questions about SMART housing, including:

A Student’s Guide to SMART Housing at UT Austin

What is SMART housing?

SMART housing is a program that helps qualifying individuals afford housing in Austin by offering discounted rent.

SMART Housing is a program created by the City of Austin designed to help students who are receiving need-based financial aid, paying for school via student loans, or working to pay for school and living expenses independently.

To put it simply, students who qualify for SMART housing qualify for discounted rent at certain apartments within West Campus. Discounted price ranges can range anywhere from $700 to $1300 depending on if the apartment provides SMART housing by the bed or by the unit.  

All properties that participate in SMART housing dedicate a specific amount of units or beds to this affordable housing discount.

How do you know if you qualify for smart housing?

There are two ways to qualify for SMART housing: 

The first way is that, if you are receiving need-based financial aid, you likely automatically qualify for SMART Housing. To find out if you are receiving any of this aid, you can visit your UT direct cash page. You will look at your current financial aid for the most recent semester, and compare your aid to those on the approved need-based financial aid list. If you have any items that appear on the list, no matter the amount, you qualify for SMART Housing. 

The other way is that, if you meet the low-to-moderate income requirement for the Austin area, then you likely qualify for SMART housing. This means that whoever is paying for your housing only makes 50% to 80% of the median Austin income. You will need to demonstrate proof of income with a W2, 1040, a letter from an employer, or three pay stubs.

If you are unable to determine if you qualify for SMART housing, provide a screenshot of your UT direct cash page or proof of income to a leasing consultant to help establish if you qualify for SMART housing. 

For more information on the SMART Housing Program, email Nathan Jones, Project Coordinator for the City of Austin. 

Is smart housing pricing only available on certain floorplans? Or, is it available for any floorplan?

Waterloo’s floor plan The Moxy is a studio, SMART housing unit.

SMART housing prices are allocated by each apartment owner, which means they all work a little differently. Apartments that are able to offer SMART housing are allowed to decide whether they would like to offer SMART housing prices by bed or unit.

SMART housing by the unit essentially means that the SMART housing price is applied to the whole entire unit. Generally, with SMART housing by the unit, this price is applied to studios and one-bedroom floor plans, but this does vary by property. 

If the apartment offers SMART housing by the bed then the SMART housing price is applied to your specific room of the unit that you’re responsible for.

For example, if you live in a four-bedroom then you could pay the SMART housing rate for your bed while your other three roommates pay the market rate.

When is SMART Housing available?

SMART housing rates are typically sent out once a year by the City of Austin in July.

Each property that qualifies for SMART housing has a limited number of units dedicated to the discounted price. This means that these units tend to go more quickly than others. In this instance, signing earlier than later would be beneficial to help ensure that you can save your place in a dedicated SMART housing unit before they are all gone.

How much does smart housing cost?

The SMART housing rates for 2021 are currently running between $700 and $1300. As mentioned above, these rates are sent out by the City of Austin once a year, usually in the summer, and vary by unit and complex. 

Which apartments near UT Austin offer SMART housing?

Ruckus 2.0 is one of the many purpose-built student housing complexes in West Campus that offer SMART housing.

Only a limited number of apartments near UT Austin offer SMART housing, but the majority of these complexes are newer developments in West Campus. Those that follow the construction guidelines for the City of Austin are able to provide SMART housing.  

Properties in West Campus near UT Austin that are currently offering SMART housing in 2022 by the bed are:

  • The Standard Austin
  • Moontower
  • Inspire on 22nd
  • GrandMarc Austin
  • Lark Austin
  • Waterloo
  • The Quarters on Campus

West Campus properties that are currently offering SMART housing in 2022 by the unit include:

  • Skyloft
  • The Ruckus
  • Ruckus 2.0
  • The Nine
  • Waterloo

What if I qualify for smart housing but my roommates do not? 

Luckily, properties that offer SMART housing by the bed will typically be able to mix a SMART housing bed and a non-SMART housing bed in one unit. This way, the roommate with SMART housing will pay a lower rate, and the other roommate(s) will pay the market rate.

Moontower is a purpose-built student housing complex in West Campus offering SMART housing by the bed.

We hope that this article helped you understand your SMART housing options at West Campus apartments. For questions about SMART housing at Waterloo, please contact us.

For more information on student living, check out these helpful articles: