Family and Basic Needs

Being in graduate school does not exempt students from experiencing hard times and having responsibilities beyond studies and research. Here are a few suggestions for seeking support and meeting one’s basic needs.

Addressing Housing and Food Insecurity

smiling mother holding her baby and embracing her toddler

Finding housing in Santa Cruz county can be challenging and expensive (~$1,000 for a room). Having to pay for basic needs in addition to housing can be a struggle for graduate students. A financial calculator of expected expenses can help with budgeting.

Turn to your trusted community to share your ordeals and needs. Some people might be able and willing to assist you, including from those you may not have expected support. Additional resources exist to support graduate students. Below are some links for housing and basic needs resources.

Housing Resources

    • Family Student Housing (FSH)
      Offers on-campus two and three bedroom apartments for students living with families (i.e. children, partner, parent, grandparent, or sibling).
    • Graduate Student Housing
      On-campus housing that offers single rooms with shared common spaces (e.g., kitchen, bathroom). These units are limited and students have to apply through a lottery system.


  1. Look for housing early, preferably the end of Spring or beginning of summer. It can be very difficult to find a place closer to the start of the Fall quarter and close to campus that is within your budget.
  2. Let landlords know you’re a graduate student because sometimes they prefer to rent to graduate students.
  3. Financially, try and prepare to have enough to pay the first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit; although some places might only ask for first month’s rent and a security deposit.
    See a projected annual budget breakdown.
  • Off-campus Housing
    This website provides useful tips and information such as how to search for housing, what to include in an application packet, and your rights as a renter.
    • The Housing Registry
      Provides a listing of apartments, houses, and shared rooms for rent that are usually targeted and made available only for UC Santa Cruz students. In order to access the portal, you’ll need to use your UC Santa Cruz email. 
    • Craigslist Santa Cruz
      This site includes a number of options for apartments, houses, and shared rooms for rent.
    • UC Santa Cruz housing listservs
      Graduate students sometimes post available rooms or apartments on the general ucscgrads listserv or on departmental graduate student listservs. To be added to your departmental listserv, contact your graduate coordinator. If you are an incoming graduate student and don’t have access yet, contact a fellow graduate student who might be able to forward you any housing emails.

Basic Needs and Food Security

  • Food Pantries
    Provide basic food needs. Family student housing also holds one the first and third Wednesday of the month.
    • On-campusThis webpage includes a list of on-campus food pantries. (Note: Please check websites as times and availability is subject to change)
    • Off-campus
      This webpage includes a list of off-campus food pantries and food assistance programs.
    • CalFresh
      Graduate students are eligible for the state of California’s food assistance program, which provides money to help pay for groceries. Support completing the CalFresh application can be found through Slug Support (see below). An explanation for eligibility and more information can be found here. You can approach your department’s graduate advisor or a trusted faculty member about getting a note talking about your income status and current need(s) to submit along with your application.
  • Slug Support
    Provides both graduate and undergraduate students assistance with basic needs including emergency funding to support urgent housing, financial, and food insecurity needs.

Resources for Parents

  • Students as Parents Website
    This webpage provides various resources including childcare and health and wellness for students who are raising children while also a students.