VISP participants are responsible for securing their own housing, but our team is happy to assist you in the process.
UW-Madison offers a limited number of spaces in on-campus housing (dormitories) for undergraduate-level students, predominantly in the spring semester. The majority of VISP students live in off-campus student housing located right next to campus.
Read on to learn more about your housing options.
Questions? Contact the VISP advisors for assistance.
Madison Friends of International Students (MFIS) offers free temporary housing for up to three nights through their system of community volunteers. If your housing is not yet available in time for your arrival you are welcome to sign up for this free service.
Understanding Madison's Unique Geography
All student housing is centrally located
Madison’s unique geography means that campus, downtown, and off-campus student housing are all located in the same area. This is part of what makes Madison a very walkable city that’s tremendously bike-friendly. Additionally, there are campus circulator buses that run frequently, meaning that you’re never too far from the action.
Off-campus student housing isn’t far away??
No! We understand that many VISP students hear “off-campus” and picture something far from campus, with no other students nearby, and cut off from the campus community. But that’s not where our students are living. Many off-campus student housing options offer:
- Proximity to campus, with some actually closer to your classes than many on-campus dormitories
- Students as residents
- Optional social events
- Roommate matching
- Furnished apartments
- Semester* or academic year leases
*See additional information about fall-only leases below.
City & Campus Map Showing Popular Housing Options
The heart of campus is the area surrounding Bascom Hill towards the lower right-hand side of the map. Most students will not have classes as far west as the Lakeshore Residence Halls area.
Undergraduate dormitories are open to undergraduate-level VISP students predominantly in the spring semester. Single, double, triple, and quad rooms available with shared bathrooms. Meal plans are required for on-campus residents.
Note: While there are graduate residence halls, these are unfurnished with 12 month leases, so they aren't a good match for VISP students.
Off-campus housing can be everything from apartments to townhouses. Some past VISP students have even joined fraternities or sororities in years past.
Each option is different, but many do offer roommate matching, semester or academic year leases, and even optional social events.
This unique option features lower-cost rooms rented in converted houses near campus. Residents share chores and often have community meals together to foster a sense of community.
Some houses have themes (vegetarianism, etc.) and some also have pets.
Additional Housing Suggestions
Off-campus housing search engines
In addition to the highly-recommended Campus Area Housing Listing Service which is run by UW-Madison, there are a number of other property management companies that are unaffiliated with UW-Madison including:
Looking for fall-only housing?
Many apartment buildings do offer a limited number of fall-only leases each year, but otherwise most leases will be offered for 9 (or occasionally 12) month contracts.
Fall-only students may have to sign an academic year (9 month) lease and then find a sublettor to take over your lease for the remaining months. While this has not historically been an issue for our VISP students over the years, you would want to read your lease contract carefully to find out what you are agreeing to do by signing. Our departing fall students are welcome to advertise their housing to the incoming spring student group. Many apartments also keep lists of their residents wishing to find a sublettor to take over their spot.
If you do not want to sign an academic year lease then you could switch to our spring semester, when there are many semester-only lease options available. Contact your VISP advisor if you have questions.
Consider purchasing renter’s insurance for your time here in the US to protect your belongings in cases of fire, theft or other disasters. It is available at a low cost from numerous insurance companies.