Back to school: An off-campus student internet guide  

Camryn Smith

Jul 27, 2023 — 6 min read

Find out everything you need to know about setting up your off-campus internet connection.

person typing on computer

Are you moving into off-campus housing? Then you’ll likely need to set up your own internet service. 

It’s no secret that internet has become an essential part of education, especially college. Choosing the right provider and internet speed for your needs at your off-campus property is an important part of your education. We’ll go over everything you need to know about off-campus internet, from choosing your ISP to setting up your internet service. 

Choosing an ISP for student internet

Once you’ve moved into your off-campus house or apartment, it’s time to choose the right internet service provider (ISP). Some properties offer internet service as part of your utilities, so make sure to look into this before you move in. Your off-campus property may already offer a specific internet service and you won’t need to worry about choosing a provider yourself. 

If your property does not offer Wi-Fi as part of your utilities, then you need to find an ISP available at your address. Check your address and find ISPs available at your specific location. 

Factors to consider when choosing an ISP 

Once you find the ISPs available in your area, there are a few factors to consider before you choose one. 

Internet speed

Internet speed is one of the most important things to consider when choosing your ISP. Think about what you’ll be using your internet for at school. 

Are your classes online? If so, you’ll need to make sure you have enough speed to support video calling. Do you have multiple roommates? This means you’ll need more speed since many devices will be connected to your network simultaneously. Also consider non-school related activities such as streaming, social media, web browsing, online shopping, etc. 

Check out our internet speed guide to find out the right internet speed for you. 

Student deals 

You may be able to take advantage of student deals from some ISPs. Check with the available ISPs in your area to see if they offer any student discounts that could lower your monthly bill. Some big providers like Xfinity and Frontier offer deals specific to students, but if you can’t find any student deals, many providers offer affordable internet options and promotional deals.

Tech types

When choosing an ISP, you’ll potentially be faced with different internet technology types to choose from, like cable internet, fiber, 5G home internet or satellite internet

Fiber internet: Fiber is the fastest internet available but costs more than the other tech types. If your property is optimized for fiber internet, it’s worth considering, especially if you’re going to be splitting the cost with roommates. Some popular fiber internet providers include AT&T, Verizon Fios and Frontier. 

Cable: Cable internet is the most common internet tech type and will likely be available at your property. While fiber is the best internet option in terms of sheer speed, you’ll get more than enough internet speed from a cable provider. Some common cable ISPs include Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox.

5G home internet: 5G is one of the newer technology types on the market, but is becoming popular due to its simple pricing and availability. 5G is a type of fixed wireless internet, so your speed will depend on your proximity to a 5G tower, but some providers offer speeds as high as 1,000 Mbps. Some popular 5G home internet providers include T-Mobile, Verizon 5G and Starry

Satellite: Satellite internet is the most widely-available internet technology type, but also one of the slowest. This is an unlikely option for off-campus living since it involves the installation of expensive equipment, but if your property is already equipped with satellite internet, you’ll likely have availability from either HughesNet or Viasat


Roommates are a common possibility when living off-campus, so it’s important to consider how they factor into your internet service. You’ll need one person to be the main account holder on your internet service account, and this person will likely handle the billing and other communication between you and your ISP. 

Since one person is the account holder, one person will handle the monthly bills, so make sure this is clear between everyone living in your off-campus property so you can work out payment details. 


When signing up for a new ISP, consider equipment requirements and costs. Usually, you can rent your equipment from your ISP for an extra monthly charge and they’ll send you everything you need. This is usually the best route to take since you’re likely renting your off-campus property and may be moving after one or two years. 

Setting up your off-campus internet service

Once you’ve chosen your ISP, it’s time to set up your internet connection. You’ll have two options: Self-installation or professional installation. 

Most ISPs offer an easy self-installation process and send you everything you need from equipment to step-by-step instructions to set up your internet service. Instructions may vary based on the provider you choose, but the general steps include: 

  1. Connecting your ISP’s cable into your modem
  2. Connecting the Ethernet cable from your modem and plug it into your router
  3. Plug in the power cords to both devices and turn them on
  4. Set up your Wi-Fi through the ISP’s app or website
  5. Test your internet connection

Like we mentioned above, instructions may vary depending on your ISP, but these are the general steps on how to set up your equipment. Your ISP will likely have you download an app that will walk you through the process. 

If you choose professional installation, then schedule an appointment with your ISP and they will send someone out to take care of everything. Just keep in mind that this will be more expensive than self-installing your internet.  

Securing your internet connection

You’ve set up your internet connection and tested it out. Great! Now it’s time to make sure your network is secure.  

Internet security is important in any situation, and since you’ll be using your internet every day for school, you’ll want to avoid any security risks. 

You can start by securing your router. You can do this by changing the name of your network – the default name could reveal information about your router and network. You’ll also want to secure your network with a strong password. This will minimize the risk of hackers breaking into your network.

VPNs and firewalls are also great options for third-party protection. A VPN sets up an encrypted, secure channel between your device and server, adding another layer of protection to your network. Both free and paid options are available, so check out our list of the best VPNs

You can also opt for a firewall. Some ISPs offer firewall protection within their equipment, but you can also get a hardware firewall. This will essentially monitor all internet traffic coming to your devices. 

Troubleshooting common internet issues 

Now that you have a secure internet connection, here are some basic tips for troubleshooting common internet issues to keep in mind: 

  1. Reboot your equipment: Sometimes, it’s as easy as turning your equipment off and on again to fix your internet issues. 
  2. Reset your network: You can reset your network in your computer settings. 
  3. Check if there is an outage in your area: Sometimes ISPs experience outages. Use a website like Down Detector or contact your ISP. 
  4. Change the position of your equipment: Your router may be in a bad spot and its signal can’t reach your devices. Make sure your router is in a central location relative to your devices. 

Wrapping up

Moving into off-campus housing means you’ll likely have to set up your internet service yourself, but once you find ISPs in your area, order your service and follow self-installation instructions (or schedule professional installation) and you’re good to go. Remember to check for student discounts and account for factors such as roommates and internet technology types before choosing your ISP. 

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Camryn Smith

Written by:

Camryn Smith

Cammy is a writer with Allconnect, growing her broadband industry knowledge for over a year on the internet marketplace. Her expertise lies in home internet and broadband service with a focus on providers, plans… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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