Everything Commuters Should Know About NC State, All On One Page

Most NC State students live in a dorm on campus — right? Actually, no. Most students live off campus and walk, bike, drive, or ride the bus to class. It’s smart, really: Commuting is one of the best ways to save money in college.

If you’re new to the commuter life, don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about how to live off campus and still enjoy the college experience, from surprising tips for saving money to commuter student perks to NC State campus lore.

So What Exactly Is A “Commuter Student”?

NC State has a pretty simple but broad explanation:

By definition, a commuter student is a student not living in any of the University-owned properties.

side view of new student apartmentsBasically, if you live at home or in an apartment (except for Wolf Village, ES King Village, Greek Life houses, or some other apartment complex maintained by the university), then NC State considers you a commuter student.

That’s all there is to it!

How Many Commuter Students Does NC State Have?

Nearly 70% of NC State students live off campus, so that’s about 16,000 commuter students. But here are the exact numbers.

  • Average number of undergraduate students: 24,000
  • Average number of off-campus students: 16,093 (67.8%) 

If you’re a commuter student, you’re actually part of the majority. Over the past 15 years, NC State’s student commuter population has been rising just as steadily as the total number of undergrad students attending NC State. Check it out:

Source: NC State OIED, Common Data Sets 1999 – 2014

How Do NC State Commuter Students Get to Class?

Unless you live in one of those brand new apartments on Hillsborough Street, you probably won’t be walking to class. The more affordable student apartments are about a 10-minute drive from NC State’s Main Campus. But there are plenty of ways to get to class that don’t involve walking.

Driving: Parking On Campus Or In A Park & Ride Lot

apartment building under construction

If you’re going to be driving from home or an off-campus apartment, you have the option of parking on campus for a fee or using a Park & Ride lot for free.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the parking options at NC State:

  • Free parking — Carter-Finley Park & Ride lot and the Food Lion Park & Ride lot (off of Avent Ferry Road); after 5 PM, you can also park in many of the permit lots on campus
  • Permit parking — parking decks, off-peak parking passes, or perimeter parking lots
  • Metered parking — pay-to-park lots on Hillsborough Street

NC State does have some perks if you want to carpool. The WolfTrails commuter benefits program lets you and your friends split the fee for a parking pass and get scratch-off permits should you need to drive to campus alone from time to time.

Riding the Bus: The WolfLine and GoRaleigh Routes

All NC State students can ride the WolfLine (NC State’s bus service) and GoRaleigh city buses for free. GoRaleigh buses aren’t normally free, but they are free for students with a GoPass.

Some off-campus apartment complexes like Campus Crossings and Vie at Raleigh offer free private shuttles straight to campus, too.

Where to Eat When You’re on Campus

On-campus dining options tend to be a little pricey. But if you’re in a pinch and need a quick bite to eat, you can stop by one of several convenience stores (C-Stores), Talley Student Union, the Atrium food court, one of several dining halls, and a handful of Port City Java coffee shops.

Commuter Students Have Their Own Meal Plan

If you’re on campus for hours at a time and don’t want to spend money on off-campus dining, University Dining offers a commuter plan that is valid at all dining locations on campus.

amedeo's italian restaurantWhat About Restaurants Off Campus?

There are plenty of places to eat near NC State! Hillsborough Street is within walking distance of campus, Avent Ferry Shopping Center and Cameron Village are a quick bus ride away, and Western Boulevard is only a short drive from campus.

Need An In-Depth Guide To Campus?

If you’re looking for one giant guide to the top spots to eat around campus, where to find printers and computer labs, and how to succeed as a commuter student, then check out the latest NC State commuter student guide.