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

Most NC State students live in a dorm on campus — right? Actually, no. Many NC State students live off campus and walk, drive, or take 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 student life, don’t worry. This page has everything you need to know about being a commuter, from the actual numbers to an insider’s guide to Main Campus.

NC State commuter infographic

So, What Exactly Is a “Commuter Student”?

If you attend NC State University, you’re a commuter stduent if you live off campus and not in University-owned apartments (like Wolf Village, ES King Village, or Greek life housing).

That’s all there is to it. You’re a commuter student whether you live on Hillsborough Street and walk a block to campus or live outside Raleigh and drive an hour to get to class.

Do Most Students Live Off Campus? Surprisingly, Yes

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. Here are some quick stats:

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

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

How Can I Get to Class as a Commuter Student?

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 10 minutes away from NC State’s Main Campus. But luckily you have plenty of transit options.

Drive to Campus and Pay to Park

If you’re going to be driving, you have the option of paying for a parking pass or finding metered spots along Hillsborough Street. Unfortunately, parking on campus isn’t very cheap at NC State, and spots can be hard to find. (Not surprisingly, Niche has given NC State’s parking a C rating.)

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.

Take the Bus to Class (For Free!)

All NC State students can ride school and city buses for free. It’s one of the best perks. The Wolfline is NC State University’s own bus service, but it doesn’t just go around campus. It goes to Cameron Village, Mission Valley Shopping Center, Park & Ride lots, and a few apartment complexes.

GoRaleigh city buses aren’t normally free, but they are for students. You can get a GoPass before the year starts for just a few bucks.

Some off-campus apartment complexes like Campus Crossings and Wolf Creek offer free private shuttles straight to campus, too.

Where to Eat When You’re on Campus

Every NC State student knows that the on-campus dining options are 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.

This is the Only Campus Map You Need

Need to know where the nearest vending machine is? Want to see which parking deck is closest to your classes? Use this map of campus and find your way around in no time.

Want a Free Guide to Campus?

NC State doesn’t provide a list of resources for commuter students all in one place. So if you’re looking for one giant guide to the top spots to eat around campus, where to find printers and computer labs, and unique problems that student commuters at NC State face, then check out the latest NC State commuter student guide.