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. As we approach the start of the fall semester, we now prepare to welcome new residents to 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: January 6, 2021

Quarantine (All Residents)


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.

Incoming residents can choose to arrive in New York State prior to their move-in date, and quarantine in an alternate (non-campus) location. They can also choose to quarantine in their Columbia Residential unit on their move-in date.

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

Residents must follow all guidance about staying in their room, and outside of one's private bedroom, University protocols (wearing masks, cleaning, social distancing, etc.) must be followed. For more information, please review Columbia Health's Coronavirus Quarantine Guide for Students.


Students are required to take precautions during quarantine, before and after testing. This means not utilizing shared spaces when others are present, wearing face coverings when they leave their rooms, and ensuring there are adequate cleaning supplies for those shared spaces, including bathrooms. A negative test does not remove the need to quarantine for the full 14 days when arriving in NY from a hot spot location. 

In most cases, individuals can quarantine in their regular residence while taking appropriate precautions to protect those they live with. Individuals under quarantine must stay home (except when directed by a medical professional), maintain distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others, consistently use face covering/face mask and arrange for food and grocery deliveries. They should also monitor their health. 

At the end of the 14-day period if the individual has no symptoms, their quarantine can be ended with no further actions. If at any time, the individual develops symptoms, they should contact their health care provider for further guidance and testing.

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 beginning August 17, no student may move into housing if they do not provide proof of a completed gateway COVID-19 test.

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 this rule. Kindly note, students who do not comply with testing 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 students will live in single rooms, 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-students who need to quarantine may choose to do so in their apartments.

Incoming Students

Students scheduled to move into housing are required to complete a COVID-19 gateway test within one business day of the move-in date.  

To schedule your required COVID-19 gateway test please visit An appointment is required, as the testing center cannot accommodate walk-ins. Students who have challenges with scheduling should email with any questions or concerns. 

For more information about 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. (or 5 p.m. during the extended move-in hours August 17 to September 4) 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

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 2020 must move in by October 30.

Incoming students in Spring 2021 must move in between November 2 and January 31.

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

If you accepted a housing offer but won't be on campus for the Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 semester -- whether because you deferred admission, will be remote learning, or any other reason -- you must contact by the deadline to be eligible to receive a refund of the reservation fee.

Fall 2020 deadline: August 31
Spring 2021 deadline: December 15

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. If you are experiencing a visa delay, you must provide documentation of the delay to be considered for a fee waiver. Only waiver requests with supporting documentation can be approved.

Current Student Residents

For most continuing students who are billed to their student account, summer rent will appear on the first summer billing statement in late May and will be due mid-June. 

Beginning August 2020, all students will be billed monthly for housing. For more information, including payment options and resources, please review Billing & Payments.

Student Financial Services (SFS) offered a payment plan for summer 2020, allowing you to split your summer semester housing charge into monthly payments. The $25 enrollment fee for the summer 2020 payment plan will be reimbursed to any students who completed the plan. 

Beginning August 2020, all students will be billed monthly for housing. For more information, including payment options and resources, please review Billing & Payments.

Residents will continue to be billed until all their belongings are officially moved out and keys are returned. Cancellation fees will be waived and rent prorated for students who move out before August 15. 

While a rent discount cannot be accommodated, students who renew their housing agreement can sign up for a payment plan through Student Financial Services so that they can make monthly payments for their summer housing. Students with concerns regarding their stipend are advised to contact their school directly. 

Spring 2020 transfers were suspended as of March 17. Students who wish to transfer in Fall 2020 should apply when the transfer season reopens on August 16. Please review Transferring for information about eligibility and the transfer process. 

You’re welcome to stay until the end of your current housing agreement, or longer if you are eligible to renew your agreement. You’re responsible for rent until you officially move out and return keys.

We understand that these recent developments may cause anxiety and concern. Columbia Residential has consulted with Columbia Health regarding our guest policy to make sure that we are in line with their guidance. As of March 17, 2020, guests are restricted in University housing. Please review the guest policy for complete guidelines.

All Residents

Recent Resident Communications:

Columbia Residential’s custodial 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 essential maintenance requests and issues, but changes to building operations have been made:

  • Per the guidance of health officials, 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-ins and large deliveries are prohibited until further notice, unless pre-approved by Columbia Residential.
  • Move-outs may continue as long as residents follow the move-out guidelines.
  • Viewing appointments will be discontinued.

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.

Beginning July 31, students who have been approved for remote learning for the Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 semester may now apply to sublet with Housing Liaison approval. 

Additionally, beginning July 24, 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

Many Columbia retail tenants near the Morningside, Manhattanville, and Irving Medical Center campuses remain open for takeout and delivery orders. Our team has compiled a list of those businesses for your convenience, and we encourage you to support them if you are able!

We are continuing to monitor this situation and hope that things return to normal soon. Until then, please reference the University’s COVID-19 site, where updates will be posted as they become available. Additionally, Columbia Residential will send email announcements if/when the need arises.

Moving Out

UPDATED August 13, 2020: Cancellation Fee Waiver Extended to August 31, 2020 for continuing students

If your housing agreement/eligibility continues beyond August 15, you may move out of housing by August 31, 2020 without a cancellation fee. Rent will be prorated based on your move-out date.

If your housing agreement/eligibility ends August 15, you must move out by that date and are not eligible for further extensions. 

Make sure to review Cancelling Housing and Move-out Information to prepare for your move. 

For information about cancelling a housing offer prior to move-in, please review Reservation Fees & Security Deposits.

Keep your unit and continue paying rent:

If you want to store your belongings in your current housing and return to the same housing when this is all over, you may do so as long as you're eligible for more time in your current unit. You'd continue to be responsible for rent while you're away. If you are eligible for renewal, you can renew your housing agreement.

Move out completely and stop paying rent:

If you choose to leave now, give up your housing and stop being responsible for rent, you'll need to officially move out -- remove your belongings from the unit and return keys. If you plan to return in the summer or fall, you can apply for housing after you move out of your current housing. Review Application Process for more information. Please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee that students approved for housing will be able to select the same unit.

If you want to move out completely but you won’t be in NYC, you can arrange for a friend to move your belongings via proxy and return your keys using the Express Move-out Box. See below for more information about arranging packing, moving and storing services, and contact us at with questions or concerns.

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.

Your school determines whether you're approved for housing again, and most schools have confirmed that students who vacated due to COVID-19 will maintain their priority for housing in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. 

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.

The rent will be prorated based on your move-out date. The credit for the prorated amount between your move-out date and the end of the month or semester will be updated on your account about two to three weeks after you move out.

For room packing, storage or shipping:

Columbia Vendors

Other Moving & Storage Options (not Columbia vendors)

Process to follow:

Columbia Residential can assist with providing access to your proxy as long as you move out by August 15, 2020.

  • Contact moving/storage companies directly to contract services.
  • Once you finalize details, send an email to to notify us of your need for a proxy move.  
  • Review Prepare for Your Move 
  • Submit your move-out notice in the Housing Portal
  • Email with the following information:
    • Move-out date
    • Proxy Full name (can be moving company)
    • Proxy Email address
    • Proxy Phone number
    • Preferred Key Return option
      • We can replace the locks at your apartment for a $150 fee. You won’t be required to return keys if you choose this option.
      • You can mail your keys to the CU Residential Office. Please provide tracking information so that we can confirm when the keys were sent and bill you appropriately
        *INCLUDE your name, CU address and apartment number inside the envelope with all of your keys. Please keep in mind you will be billed until keys are received and for any keys not returned.
        • CU Residential
          ATTN: Vacancy Coordinator
          400 West 119thStreet
          New York, NY 10027

We recommend that students contract and provide payment to the moving and storage companies directly.

Updated: The application for Emergency Move-out Assistance is closed as of April 22, 2020.

Columbia Residential will consider requests for up to $500 in hardship funding for students who wish to move out of housing during the month of April. Students wishing to move out but experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 should submit the COVID-19 Emergency Move-out Assistance Request form and submit supporting documentation of financial hardship to for review.  

If you are approved for emergency move-out assistance and you book your move using a Columbia vendor (Hudson Moving & Storage, Moving Right Along), then we can pay them directly and bill the cost of the move to your student account. You’ll receive a credit for prorated rent within two weeks of your move-out being confirmed, around the same time you’ll be charged for the move. If you prefer to contract a different moving company, you may do so, but you will have to pay them directly and provide receipts to Columbia Residential before the assistance can be disbursed.

Deadline Extended: All requests for emergency move-out assistance must be received by April 22 to be considered. Kindly note, submission of a request does not guarantee approval. 

Applicants who are not approvedfor up to $500 assistance may be considered for deferred payment so that the cost of the move is charged to their student account. Students approved for deferred payment of the move will be financially responsible for 100% of the moving costs, but will have additional time to pay for the move since it will be billed to them after the move occurs.

Students who move out in March or April who wish to return to housing in Fall 2020 may submit a new application for housing after moving out. Most schools have already confirmed that returning students will maintain their priority in Fall 2020, and Columbia Residential will facilitate this by keeping track of those students who move out in March or April 2020 and sharing that with schools. 

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

Students who graduated in May 2020 were eligible for a housing renewal/extension until August 31, 2020. If any additional extensions are available for graduating students, they will be contacted directly with instructions for applying for an extension.

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