Students who wish to request exemption from the residency requirement may submit the request after completing the housing application.

The process to request an exemption varies based on your affiliation with the university and when the request is made.


SMU has a two-year residency requirement and students are expected to live on-campus for their first two years. The university permits very few exceptions to the two year live-on requirement

Types of exemptions explained

SMU has a two-year residency requirement and incoming students are expected to live on-campus for their first two years at SMU. New first-year students who are from Dallas may request a personal hardship exemption from the requirement in order to continue to live at home with parent or guardian.  Exemptions may be requested after a student completes the housing application SMU Housing Portal. If exemption is granted, it is valid for the two years of the requirement.

Generally a student requests a hardship exemption for one of these reasons, and it may be helpful to know the following:

  • Financial reasons:  Approval to live at home may affect a student’s financial aid, so it is recommended students check with their SMU financial aid advisor to see how living at home would affect aid.
  • Disability:  The SMU Disability Accommodation & Success Strategies (DASS) office works with students to determine what a student needs for accommodation in order to live on-campus using medical documentation and federal ADA guidelines. It is recommended students contact DASS regarding their situation for meeting their needs at SMU. (The RLSH office does not accept, review or retain any medical documentation.)
  • Family: The exemption to live at home is only for students from Dallas who will continue to live at home. Exemption is not available for students from outside of Dallas who want to live with relatives or family friends.

Returning sophomores may request an exemption for Personal Hardship or in order to live in their Greek chapter house.  Exemption maybe submitted after completing the housing Reapplication on the SMU Housing Portal in February.

When requesting a personal hardship exemption, rising sophomores will answer the following questions:

  • What are the circumstances that create a personal hardship if you are required to live on-campus?
  • Other than requesting exemption, how have you sought to resolve the circumstances?
  • Have you considered requesting other on-campus options that could relieve the circumstances (assignment change to another community, to a single, different bathroom style, etc.)?
  • How does living off-campus remove the hardship?

Students seeking exemption are encouraged to provide thoughtful, complete and rational answers in their responses. Please note that RLSH does not require documentation for exemption requests, nor do we accept, review or retain any medical documentation as to medical or disability concerns. Rising sophomores with a medical or disability concern who wish reassignment for next year to different type of on-campus housing should consult with DASS regarding on-campus housing accommodations.


Exemptions to live in a Greek chapter house are granted to active members of the chapter, who apply for an exemption by April 1. Students must be at least a second-year student to live in a chapter house, and be initiated prior to moving into the house. Second year students who become members during fall semester are not eligible to move into a chapter house during the consecutive spring semester.

Documentation needed: Students living in an on-campus fraternity must be on the member roster provided to RLSH no later than April 1. Students living in a sorority or Sigma Chi must provide a sublease to RLSH no later than May 1. 

On-campus housing exemption process

How to apply for an exemption

  1. Complete your housing application for the upcoming academic year. (The 2023-24 application will be available in February 2023.) Exemption requests are not considered without a completed housing application.
  2. Complete the "Exemption Request" process in the SMU Housing Portal. The request process includes
    • Your written statement for the request 
    • The address where you would live if exempted 
    • Sophomores requesting Greek Exemption must provide a signed copy of the lease with their chapter 

Housing Exemption Committee Decision

Exemptions are reviewed by designated RLSH staff under the supervision and direction of the Dean of RLSH. Decisions are made on a bi-weekly rolling basis starting in February for the upcoming academic year. Staff will first process returning requests, then requests from incoming students. New students who submit a request by April 15 will receive a response in May. Decisions are sent to the student’s SMU email account. If a request is approved, a student is forfeiting their guarantee housing for the remainder of their time at SMU. Please note that living off campus may result in reduced financial aid packages.


Students who are denied may appeal to the Housing Exemption Appeal Committee. Appeals must be received within 14 days of the decision email. Appeals can be submitted to housing@smu.edu.