Columbia Residential Housing & COVID-19 FAQ

Throughout the pandemic, Columbia Residential has been working diligently to provide support to thousands of students, postdocs, faculty and staff who live in University housing. 

To make sure you have access to all of the information you need to make incredibly important decisions about your future in University housing, we've compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions.

No matter your affiliation, please review the tabs below for important information about preparing for move-in, move-out, and everything in between. Please be advised that information here is subject to change as health guidance and University plans are updated.

Last update: July 12, 2021



All Columbia affiliates (faculty, staff, and students) arriving from outside of New York are required to follow quarantine guidelines outlined by New York State and the University. For more information, please review Columbia University COVID-19 Resource Guide: Quarantine Guidelines.

If you are required to quarantine upon your arrival in New York State, you may choose to arrive prior to your move-in date and quarantine in an alternate (non-campus) location. You may also choose to quarantine in your Columbia Residential unit on your move-in date.

Residents may quarantine in a non-campus location or in Columbia Residential housing in which each resident has a private bedroom. 

You must follow all guidance about staying in your room or apartment. Outside of your private bedroom, University protocols (wearing masks, cleaning, social distancing, etc.) must be followed. For more information, please review Columbia Health's Coronavirus Quarantine Guidelines for Students or Faculty and Staff.

Support Available at your Building

If you are required to quarantine, we ask that you please consider notifying your superintendent of the following matters immediately so they can provide assistance and implement precautionary and preventive measures:

  • If you have any need to leave the building (and in advance of returning)
  • Schedule garbage pick-up
  • Any expected deliveries
Support Available from Columbia Health

Students who are required to quarantine will receive medical support through Columbia Health, as needed:

  • Medical check-ins
  • Mental health and well-being support (access to individual counseling, virtual support spaces, well-being programs)
  • Communication with point of contact in school (Dean of Students) to provide academic materials and study support for students in isolation
  • Coordination of other services for students

During this time, students are not permitted to:

  • Leave their room, unless to use the restroom or for medical reasons
  • Enter another resident’s room
  • Use building amenities like laundry facilities or lounges

Find more information on Columbia Health's website and on the University's COVID-19 website.

The safety of our residents, staff and community-members is of utmost importance. That said, we respect the privacy of our residents as well as the privacy of staff members. Accordingly, to comply with federal, state and local privacy laws, we cannot disclose a resident’s medical condition, nor can we disclose an employee’s medical condition or any other information which would potentially identify any individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or may have been exposed to COVID-19.

In addition to outreach all students receive from Columbia Health and University Life, Columbia Residential has informed all incoming student residents of the requirements for gateway COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Students are required to complete their gateway test immediately upon arrival or return to campus (including housing).

Columbia Residential will continue to share with Columbia Health any move-in date information for all incoming student residents so they may also monitor compliance with all University policies regarding COVID-19. Kindly note, students who do not comply with testing, vaccine and quarantine as required by the University may face disciplinary consequences, including loss of housing and status at the University.

For more information, please review the Student Accountability Plan for Columbia Community Health Compact.

Since all student residents will have private bedrooms, in many cases, quarantine (when a student has potentially been exposed, but is not ill) can occur in their current residential unit. Learn more about the protocols in place for isolation, quarantine and care for student residents.

Columbia Residential and Columbia Health have identified single occupancy spaces that will be used for isolation of any student resident who becomes ill or otherwise requires isolation. Residents with symptoms or illness concerns should contact Columbia Health for individualized guidance.

Non-student residents who need to quarantine may choose to do so in their apartments.

Incoming Students

COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all University students, faculty, and staff. Full vaccination is to be completed as soon as possible.

The University strongly recommends that all individuals, students and employees in international contexts, be vaccinated as soon as possible and receive the full dose series for optimal protection. Vaccines authorized by the FDA or by WHO will be acceptable.

See Vaccine Documentation Upload Instructions for guidance in submitting your proof of vaccination. For more information about COVID-19 vaccine requirements, please reference the FAQs Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination.

For more information about vaccines, gateway testing, quarantine requirements, and the University's response to COVID-19, please review the COVID-19 Resource Guide

Incoming residents who do not arrive by 4 p.m. will not be able to move in on that day and will have to find alternative accommodations until the next business day. Unfortunately, staff will not be available to meet you after those hours, and exceptions cannot be made.

If you are running late but will arrive within that timeline, please contact your superintendent, whose information can be found in the move-in instruction email you'll receive 48 hours prior to your appointment, or in the Housing Portal in the Building Info tab.

If you will not be able to arrive on time, we encourage you to arrange alternative accommodations until the following business day. A list of short-term and temporary housing options can be found on the Work/Life site, and additional resources are available on the Off-Campus Housing Assistance site.  

To reschedule your move-in appointment, please log into the Housing Portal. If you have any trouble updating your appointment in the Housing Portal, contact [email protected].

For more information, please review Prepare for Move-in.

If you have already selected and accepted housing, you may move in on your selected move-in date, as long as you have signed the housing agreement. Please review Prepare for Move-in for more information.

Incoming students in Fall 2021 must move in by September 30.

If you have accepted a housing offer but are not able to move in by the deadline, you must contact [email protected].

If you accepted a housing offer but won't be on campus for the upcoming semester -- whether because you deferred admission, will be remote learning, or any other reason -- you must contact [email protected] by the deadline to be eligible to receive a refund of the reservation fee.

Fall 2021 deadline: May 31

If you notify us of your cancellation after the deadline, please keep in mind that the reservation fee will not be refunded unless the reason for your cancellation is a delay with your student visa or if there are active travel restrictions from your home country. If you are in either situation, you must provide documentation to be considered for a fee waiver. Only waiver requests with supporting documentation can be approved.

All Residents

Columbia Residential residents are required to agree to the Columbia University Compact, and to follow public health guidance, which includes wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and limiting the size of social gatherings.

Beginning May 10, 2021, all Columbia Residential residents may now host visitors or guests as long as they remain in compliance with the updated Guest Policy. NOTE: This policy applies only to residents in Columbia Residential and does not apply to undergraduates in Columbia College and SEAS. Undergraduates in CC and SEAS may review Guests ​for more information.

Columbia Residential’s maintenance team is taking preventive measures by sanitizing frequently-touched surfaces in building common areas, and will continue to provide routine cleaning of those spaces. Building staff continue to be on-duty to respond to maintenance requests and issues, but some changes to building operations have been made:

  • Per the guidance of health officials, many building amenities have been shut down until further notice (gyms, playrooms, recreation rooms, etc.). Garages, laundry rooms and bicycle and storage areas will remain open unless we are advised otherwise.
  • Move-outs may continue as long as residents follow the move-out guidelines.

We encourage residents to submit all non-emergency maintenance requests online; the reduced phone and email traffic will allow us to allocate staff more efficiently to essential tasks. Emergency maintenance concerns can continue to be reported to (212) 854-2222.

All visitors to campus, including subtenants, must abide by the University's Enhanced Health and Safety Policy. For more information, review the Columbia Community Health Compact

Students who wish to sublet in an apartment share or dormitory space are advised to speak with their roommates/suitemates to make sure all are aware of their subletting plans.

Additionally, beginning July 24, 2020, all subtenants moving into shared apartments or dorms who are arriving from outside of the United States or a non-contiguous state MUST quarantine outside of the Columbia Residential apartment or dorm for the period required, as outlined in the COVID-19 New York State Travel Advisory

For more information on listing your unit and applying to sublet, review Subletting

It is the expectation that all members of our community follow health and hygiene practices outlined in the University’s Enhanced Health & Safety Policy to help protect individuals in the Columbia community and our neighbors. If you observe non-adherence to safety protocols, e.g., not wearing a mask, large gatherings, etc., you may submit a report using the resources outlined on the COVID-19 Resource website.

Moving Out

All the information you need to prepare for your move can be found on our website: Move-out Information. Please review and contact us with any questions.

After you move out, please review Application Process and submit a new application for housing. Students approved to return to housing will select a new unit based on availability. We cannot guarantee that the same unit will be available during housing selection, but if it is, it will appear on the list of available units and can be selected.

Generally, students may remain in their unit until the end of their housing agreement.

For more information about the move-out process, please review Move-out Information.