College is already expensive enough. You don’t want to go home over summer vacation and find out that you got smacked with a $100 fine for leaving your dorm room a mess when you moved out.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when you you start the process of moving out of a dorm room at the end of the school year … especially how to avoid fines.
1. Report pre-existing problems
You’ve already spent money on your dorm room essentials, so you definitely don’t want to pay for damages that you aren’t even responsible for. At the beginning of the year, your school will give you a chance to mark down any damages that are already there so you don’t get charged for them eventually.
You really don’t want to blow this off and then regret it later. In fact, look over your dorm room right away and write down everything, even if you don’t think it’s a big deal.
2. Don’t damage the walls
One of the most common damages that students have to pay for are thumbtack holes in the walls. You can still hang things up without putting holes in the drywall or hurting the paint: Use putty that’s designed especially for hanging pictures and posters or some blue painter’s tape, which is strong but still shouldn’t take off paint.
3. Read move-out instructions carefully
Schools have specific procedures for checking out of your dorm room at the end of the year. You’ll probably get instructions in email or from your RA that explain the process and the expectations for how the room should look when you leave.
If you don’t follow the instructions and check out late or leave the room a mess, you could get fined for something that was completely avoidable. Everyone makes mistakes and a few marks here and there in your room are understandable, but being fined for not following directions is another story.
4. Clean, clean, clean
Throughout the school year, you’ll want to keep up with cleaning and vacuuming your room. At the end of the year it’s time to give your dorm a deep clean.
Schools will charge you for anything from not taking your trash out to leaving stains in your carpet. If you stay on top of cleaning during the year and clean up messes as they happen, you should be able to save yourself a lot of time and headaches at the end of the year.
5. Be careful about making repairs on your own
If there is damage to your room at the end of the year, you might be able to avoid a large fine by fixing things yourself, but this should be done with caution. Schools can be particular about the state of their rooms, and if you try to fix problems by yourself, you run the risk of damaging the room further or doing it wrong and still getting charged.
If you have to repair or replace something in your room, you can usually find common things like towel rods, steel washers, window screens, or anything that’s easy to replace at a local hardware store — or order them online.
Schools can usually be pretty forgiving about any problems you might have. If you notice a problem with your dorm or accidentally damage something, talk to your RA or someone from housing so it can get resolved right away and the situation won’t get any worse.