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Your Guide To Finding Last-Minute Graduation Housing

Penn State graduation is the wonderful, joyous peak at the top of Mt. Stress and Panic. You have to submit your intent to graduate, but you’ll spend most of senior year worrying if you’ll even get there. Once you do, you have to make sure your friends and family can get there, too.

Graduation housing books up at what feels like lightning speed. Some very organized Penn State parents look for hotels to book when their student is a freshman or sophomore. If you and your family are entering your last spring semester with a lot less coordination, there are some still some limited but available options for graduation day accommodations:


Pricing options for State College Airbnbs can range from “Wow, this is a steal!” to “Congratulations, honey, but we had to sell your car to be able to stay here overnight.” Still, it’s probably the best option if you want to be able to pick out the exact dates of your stay, see reviews, and decide what your minimum stay will be.


Airbnb’s much uglier, much older cousin Craigslist is another self-listing option for housing. Look under State College housing and click the “vacation rentals” option, which is about as close as you can get to finding anything. You can also search “graduation housing” in the State College area and see if that gets you anywhere. Like Airbnb, Craigslist will let you tailor your search based on your party size and amenities, but you can only looking for availability “within 30 days” and “beyond 30 days.”

This one will take a little more research.

Housing in Neighboring Towns (or as Close as You Can Get)

No one said your family had to stay in State College to go to graduation. Hotels and housing in nearby areas like Boalsburg, Bellefonte, Lemont, Houserville, and Port Matilda tend to fill up as quickly as well, but if you’re a family from a far-away land, it’s better to get as close as you can than turn graduation day into an all-night car ride.

Shacking Up in a State College Basement

Time to whip out the air mattresses! Sometimes, your parents just need to kick it old-school and sleep in your (or a dear, dear friend’s) basement. Maybe if they can remember how much fun it was living in a run-down college basement, they’ll let you stay another year! That’s a thing, right?! *insert nervous laughter here*

Swap with Another Family

Commencement for each academic college is spread out over the span of a weekend, which means some families may only be staying for a night. If you’re really desperate, ask around and see what day everyone’s graduating. You may be able to scooch a family into a living area right after another leaves.

If all else fails, your family and friends can…

Bribe a Freshman

Freshmen in East Halls are now living like kings. Getting one of them to let you sleep in their new, luxury dorms may actually be better than a hotel. The commute certainly will be.

Camp Outside Your Graduation Venue

It’s like camping out in Nittanyville for Penn State football, but at the end of the following day, all that awaits you is disappointment and confusion.

On second thought, it’s exactly like that.

Rent an RV, Skip Graduation, and Tailgate Instead

Graduations are so big and busy, as long as you send someone in to take a few pictures and meet up afterwards, no one will know the difference. Graduations happen every day, but tailgating at Penn State is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Wait…

Sleep in a Penn State Bathroom Bed

It’s not an ideal sleeping situation, but beggars can’t be choosers.

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About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism and Onward State's former student life editor. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia" (she looked up the exact driving time). She enjoys really enjoys eating cereal at night, in case you were wondering. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.

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