Residence Life


The South Dakota Board of Regents policy manual states that “Students who are enrolled at a university for a minimum of six (6) on-campus credits are required to live in on-campus housing during the first two (2) years following their high school graduation. Institutions may grant waiver exceptions to the housing requirement based on the waiver exceptions," and  "exceptions to the housing requirement will ordinarily be granted to students who are married, to students with dependent children who reside with them, and to students who reside full-time during the academic year at the primary residence of the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) within a designated radius determined by each institution.”

This residency requirement serves important educational and developmental purposes. Education professionals widely recognize that where students live their freshman and sophomore years has a significant impact on the quality of their academic and personal preparation for post-collegiate life. Students prosper in stable living environments that are close to academic resources and organized student activities that promote social interaction and exposure to new and diverse life experiences, and that afford supervision, counseling, and other assistance as may be needed. In short, on-campus residency provides unparalleled opportunities for multi-dimensional student development and is part of the university’s broad educational program.

The Housing Contract Policy is strictly enforced. However, BHSU recognizes that some off-campus living circumstances may closely approximate the advantages of on-campus residency. Also, some students may have living requirements that the University cannot accommodate on campus. The following exemptions will be considered:

Exemption Categories

After proper documentation and university inquiry, students may qualify for an exemption to the Housing Policy.

  • Married Exemption: Students requesting a release because they are married must meet the following criteria: A copy of a valid marriage certificate must be submitted to the Residence Life office before a release can be approved or rent charges cancelled. The release date will not be earlier than the date of marriage 
  • Legal Dependent Exemption: A copy of the dependent’s birth certificate must be provided to the Residence Life office before a release can be granted.
  • Commuter Exemption: A commuter exemption may be granted to students desiring to live at the permanent residence of a parent or legal guardian within thirty-five (35) driving miles of the main BHSU campus who can also demonstrate through written means how commuting will be academically advantageous. If the appeal committee determines that commuting is not academically advantageous to the student, commuting requests may be denied. Students must be in good academic standing with the university to qualify for the commuting exemption.
  • Financial Hardship Exemption: Applicants requesting release based on this criterion must complete and submit a FASFA report. Releases are not based upon the assertion that living off campus may be cheaper. A release will be considered when the applicant has a significant verified need for financial aid as defined by the personnel of the BHSU Financial Aid Office and that need is not fully funded by University financial aid. OR When financial circumstances are created by situations over which you have no control (such as a loss of parental support due to death, divorce, loss of employment, catastrophic health issues, bankruptcy) which create a financial hardship.
  • Physical Health Exemption: Applicants requesting a release based on this criterion must provide information from the attending physician stating the specific verifiable condition for which it is medically necessary for the student to be released and why specific off-campus housing would provide better living conditions in regard to this medical condition. Applicants must obtain a Supplemental Medical Need Verification Form from the Residence Life Office or the BHSU Residence Life webpage . The form must be completed in detail and signed by the attending physician. Applicants may be asked to get a second opinion from BHSU Student Health Services or other referral physicians. Paperwork must be complete before a decision is rendered
  • Mental Health Exemption: Applicants requesting a release based on mental health or emotional needs must provide a specific psychological recommendation from a licensed mental health care provider. Applicants not seeing University Counseling Center personnel must provide the Residence Life Office with a written statement evaluating the student’s specific needs or problems written by a certified mental health care giver.

Appeals may take 2-4 weeks for a decision and letter to be mailed.

  • Contact the Residence Life Office at 605-642-6464 to confirm the status of your current room reservation. Room reservations will not be canceled unless verbal/written confirmation is made by the student.
  • Due to the timeline of the appeal process, approvals will typically be made before the start of the term for which the appeal has been granted. If a payment has been made on a student’s bill refunds will be made according to BHSU Residence Life policy.
  • the $100 housing deposit is not guaranteed, an will be refunded according to Residence Life Policy outlined in the Terms and Conditions section of the Housing Application and Agreement. 
  • You can contact Residence Life at 605-642-6464.
  • In order to determine if you qualify to appeal, please review the “How to Appeal Tab” or “The Housing Appeal Tab” for a complete list of exemption statuses.
  • Each appeal is handled on a case-by-case basis and voted on by the appeals committee. The committee will vote using standard exemption guidelines, as well as keeping the students best interest in mind.
  • We encourage students to complete the appeal themselves as communication regarding the appeal will be directed primarily to the student. Parents may complete the form, however communication regarding the appeal will be restricted to the student, unless a FERPA Education Record Release has been signed and submitted.

BHSU Housing Appeal

Residence Life at BHSU is committed to the education and development of student potential - academically, personally, and socially. The residential experiences gained in the first two years spent living on-campus at BHSU are instrumental in this education and development. For that reason, the South Dakota Board of Regents has mandated that students live on-campus for their first two years while in college. If you are a current student, you may also wish to review the Terms and Conditions of your BHSU Housing Agreement.

The Department of Residence Life recognizes that living on-campus, for various reasons, may not be in the best interest of all students. For that reason, Residence Life does offer this appeal for those students with unique situations that make living off-campus a necessary situation.

Please review the "How to Appeal", "FAQ", and "Appeal Form" tabs carefully to determine whether or not the Housing Appeal is the right option for you.

  • Once approved, unless contacted by the Office of Residence Life you do not need to appeal again.
  • The deadline for Spring 2020 moderated appeals is December 9, 2020.
  • The deadline for current student appeals is May 7, 2021.
  • You can proceed to to complete your on-campus housing agreement. If you have already completed the housing agreement, please call the Residence Life Office at (605) 642-6464 to obtain your house assignment.
  • You may re-appeal under a different exemption status. Current and new students are allowed to appeal a total of two (2) times.
  • Moderated/Current Students Appeals: November 2, 2020  through December 9, 2020. We will accept appeals during this time period for financial, or medical needs only.
  • Current Student Appeals will be open from March 22, 2021 through May 7, 2021.
  • New students may appeal at any time.

    *Moderated Appeals are for current students.
  • You can appeal by completing the online housing appeal form located under the “Appeal Form” of this page. Please check the “How to Appeal” tab for further instructions.

How to Appeal

The following are the suggested guidelines for completing the Housing Appeal. Once submitted appeals typically will have a 48 hour turn around time before the decision letter is sent out, but please allow for up to two weeks for your decision letter. A decision can be delayed if supplemental information is not submitted or as we request information from our campus partners.

1. Determine your appeal period

New Student Appeals: Year Round
Appeals for new students will be accepted and reviewed on a year round continual basis. New students are those who have applied for and been accepted to BHSU but have not yet attended classes. (Appeals will not be reviewed on state holidays or weekends.)

Moderated/Current Students Appeals: November 2, 2020 through December 9, 2020

We will accept appeals during this time period for financial, or medical needs only.

Current Student Appeals: March 22, 2021 through May 7, 2021 
During open appeals, all current and new students may appeal for any exemption status.

Any appeal submitted outside or after the deadline will only be considered on the basis of a significant circumstance (medically or financially) or for an unseen circumstance. 

2. Determine your desired exemption status

  • Married Exemption: Students must provide a valid marriage certificate.
    * Engagement does not qualify as marriage under this exemption.
  • Legal Dependent Exemption: Students must provide a birth certificate for their dependent.
  • Commuter Exemption: For students residing full time with their parent or legal guardian within 35 driving miles of the BHSU main campus. Students must explain how commuting will be academically advantageous as part of the appeal process.
  • Financial Hardship Exemption: For those students with extenuating financial hardship usually verified through a student's completed FAFSA report.
    * Releases are not based on the assertion that living off-campus may be cheaper.
  • Physical or Mental Health Exemption: Students must provide documentation from the attending physician or licensed mental health professional identifying the specific verifiable condition for which it is medically or mentally necessary to reside off-campus. Additional information may be requested on accommodations off campus that will satisfy the unique needs of the verified condition.

3. Complete the Housing Appeal Form

Be sure to have all of your information in order and then proceed to the Housing Appeal form. Complete the form and any supplemental form as directed. Please be specific with the information you submit, included information should pertain specifically and directly to your exemption status. Include as much or as little information as you see fit, knowing that someone from Residence Life might contact you with supplemental questions. Applications will be automatically submitted to the appeals committee. All supplemental information should be sent to :

BHSU Residence Life
Attn: Housing Appeals Committee
1200 University St. Unit 9100
Spearfish, SD 57799-9100

4. Await the Arrival of Your Decision Letter

During the academic year your decision letter will be sent to your mailbox on campus. Outside the normal academic year, your decision letter will be sent to the home address provided on your Housing Appeal form. It is also beneficial to check the email listed on your appeal regularly while waiting as official inquiries will be sent to that address. If you feel that you have not received your decision letter in an appropriate or expected time period, please contact Residence Life at (605) 642-6464.

5. If My Appeal Has Been Approved...

Sometimes, residents who are approved chose not to live off-campus. For that reason, Residence Life will not cancel room arrangements until verbal or written confirmation is received by the Residence Life office. To confirm the cancellation of your room assignment, please call Residence Life at (605) 642-6464 or email Residence Life.

6. If My Appeal Has Been Denied...

If you have already received a room assignment or completed the Online Housing Agreement, your contract will still be intact and your accommodations will remain the same. If you have not applied for a room, please proceed to our Online Housing Agreement and complete the application at your earliest convenience. Please contact the Residence Life office at (605) 642-6464 for questions regarding room reservation.

You can re-appeal under a different exemption status. Current students are permitted to submit a total of two (2) appeals.

  • Appeals are only open at certain times to ensure a quick turn around and an accurate count for residential students


Students requesting an appeal for the Spring  2021: November 2, 2020 through December 9, 2020.  Appeals submitted for Financial Hardship and Medical/mental Health  will be accepted and considered during this time frame.

Appeals for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 academic year submitted by current students will open on March 22, 2021 through May 7, 2021. Appeals for all exemptions will be accepted during this period.

Qualifying criteria for Commuter Exemptions have been updated for the 2021-2022 academic  year. Please check all criteria for exemptions.