FAQ | Student Housing Selection


Students approved for housing by their schools select an accommodation during their assigned housing selection appointment. Housing selection is also sometimes referred to as self-selection.

Shortly after being approved for housing, students receive an email confirming their housing selection appointment within the following few weeks. Housing selection allows students to view all available units for which they are eligible and directly select the unit they wish to live in through the Housing Portal.

A unit can either be an entirely empty apartment, or a space in an apartment share or dorm.

A description of unit types can be found on our website under Accommodations. The list of units viewable in housing selection also categorizes them by whether the bedroom is shared or private, and if the bathroom is shared or private.

To participate in housing selection, prospective residents must submit a housing application in the Housing Portal and be approved for housing by your school’s housing liaison.

If you already reside in housing, you must submit a transfer application in the Housing Portal and be approved for a transfer to participate in housing selection.

After being approved by your school, an appointment date and time with be automatically assigned to you, and appointment information will be emailed to the email you provided when creating your Housing Portal account.

Your appointment information is also available at the bottom of the Housing Selection page on the Assignment tab in the Housing Portal. Housing Selection appointments are 7 days in length to give students ample time to participate at a time that is convenient. If you are unable to log in at all during your 7-day appointment, you may email [email protected] at least 48 hours prior to your scheduled appointment to inquire about a change.

Please make a note of your appointment start and end time as you will not have access to the list of available units prior to your appointment, and your selection must be completed prior to your appointment end time. On the seventh and last day of your appointment, you will have until 11:59 PM (Eastern) to select a unit.

Screenshot of housing selection landing page with appointment time listed.

If you have opted into gender neutral housing you will be shown units specified to your eligibility and gender neutral units. Please review our Gender Neutral Housing guidelines prior to your unit selection. 

You don’t need to! Based on the school listed in your application for your housing-eligible program, you will be able to see both school-specific available housing, if applicable, as well as available Columbia Residential housing.

Please understand the demand for housing exceeds the supply, and not every student can be allocated housing. If you no longer need student housing, please let us know immediately at [email protected] so that we may accommodate another applicant.

Housing Selection

Ensure you have access to the Housing Portal prior to the start of your round. On the date and time of your housing selection appointment, the Select Unit button will become active at the bottom of the Housing Selection page. This button will only become active upon checking you agree to the Residential terms and conditions. From the start time of your housing selection appointment you have 7 days to make a selection. On the seventh and final day of your appointment, your access to Housing Selection will end at 11:59 PM (Eastern).

Screenshot of Housing Selection landing page showing acknowledgement checkboxes and "Select Unit" button.

Housing Selection appointments are 7 days in length to give students ample time to log in to review availability and select a unit at a time that is convenient. During those 7 days, you have open access to selection and may review availability at any time. Students who log into selection later in that 7-day period are not at a disadvantage to those who log in earlier, but students should recognize that inventory may change throughout the selection period.

If you are unable to log in at all during your scheduled 7-day housing selection appointment, please contact us by email at [email protected] at least 48 hours prior to the start of the appointment to request that it be rescheduled.

If you do not confirm a unit during your appointment, your approval will be retracted and you will need to submit a new application in the Housing Portal  to be considered again. Please be advised that approval is not guaranteed and up to your school. Those not approved may participate in the waitlist if availability permits, during waitlist housing selection.

Kindly note, students may submit up to two applications for housing in any one semester; subsequent applications will not be considered.

We recommend participating as soon as your appointment begins, but you may sign into Housing Selection at any time during your appointment. Responses must be received before the end of your scheduled appointment. Multiple students are also choosing units at the same time, so please keep in mind that availability could change at any time during your review of the units in Housing Selection.

No, unfortunately we do not yet have a mobile application for Housing Selection. While you may be able to pull up the Housing Portal on a mobile device, the page is not designed for a mobile layout and that may interfere with the functionality. Additionally, you may face issues when trying to download a floorplan.

After clicking Select unit on the  housing selection page, the screen will load a list of units for which you are eligible.

Screenshot of Housing Portal showing unit selection tab
Screenshot of housing selection page showing list of units

Unfortunately, we do not yet have pictures of every unit. We understand the desire for photos and we are working with our operations team for this to become an addition in the future. For now, you can review sample photos of units on the Housing Accommodations page.

Some units do have floor plans, if the unit you are interested in has a floor plan, you will see a hyperlink to download the floor plan for that unit. If you wish to review the floor plan, please ensure you are using a computer not a mobile device, as it downloads as an attachment, not a pop-up.

You are able to see the: building address, floor number, unit number, apartment type, if the bedroom is shared or private, if the bathroom is shared or private, the number of beds available in the unit,  floorplan (if available), monthly rent, earliest date you can move-in, unit size, and amenities.

The amenities listed on the self-selection page are: door attendant, elevator access, ethernet, furnished or unfurnished, laundry in the building, and if utilities are included.

If the apartment is a shared apartment, you will also be able to see the respective roommate information and if there is an approved animal in the apartment, which will be indicated by a paw print icon underneath the address. Hover over the paw print to reveal more information about the type of approved animal living in the apartment.

Screenshot of details provided on a selected unit in housing selection
Screenshot of approved animal indicator in housing selection, with red arrow pointing to paw print that indicates whether a roommate has an approved animal in that apartment.

Yes, you have the ability to sort by address, size, or rent. You can also filter by a variety of amenities, residence types, move-in date, rent, and unit size. In order to filter by your selections you must select Apply Filters at the bottom. If you wish to clear the filters, select Clear Filters. Please prioritize your filters by necessity (i.e. rent range, preferred move-in date) when filtering through the list.

Screenshot of sort options available in housing selection
Screenshot of amenity filters available in housing selection
Screenshot of filters available in housing selection

No, the furniture status of a unit cannot be altered. Furniture cannot be removed from furnished units, and cannot be added to unfurnished units. If you need a unit which is either furnished or unfurnished ensure you select a unit which is labeled as such.

Screenshot of furnished or unfurnished filters in housing selection

A description of furniture included in each respective furnished unit can be found here.

If you find a unit you would like to select, click the blue Select button for that respective unit.

Upon selecting a unit, the details of the unit you’ve chosen will move to the top of the page in a bright blue box. If it is a shared apartment, will be able to see the gender identity and schools of the roommates occupying the other rooms in the apartment.

You will have 5 minutes to review the information and confirm or cancel your unit selection. If you want to select this unit, click Confirm; if you wish to select a different unit, click Cancel.

Prior to clicking confirm, ensure the unit you have selected is the unit for which you want to receive an offer. Once you receive an offer by clicking Confirm you cannot return to the unit list to select a different unit.

Screenshot of unit selection button in housing selection
Screenshot of unit confirmation details and button in housing selection

During housing selection, multiple students participate in unit selection at the same time. If a unit has been selected by another participant during housing selection, a “Locked” label will appear in place of the selection button.

The participant viewing the unit will have 5 minutes to select confirm or cancel. If they confirm, the unit will be removed from the list. If they click cancel, or do not select confirm within the 5 minutes allotted, the unit will be returned to the list.

Screenshot of "Locked" label on a unit that was selected by another participant

If you have a preferred roommate who is also an incoming student, and you are both approved for Housing Selection by your housing liaison and neither of you have confirmed a unit yet, you may participate in Housing Selection at the same time to review options available in completely empty apartment shares. Please connect with your preferred roommate to coordinate when you log in. If your 7-day appointments don't overlap, you may email us at [email protected] to inquire about an appointment change for one of you. Kindly note, if your appointments already overlap, we are not able to make a change and you may participate together during that overlap.

When participating you will filter the list by “Show completely empty apartments” and find an apartment which meets everyone’s needs. Then inform your group members of the apartment you’ve selected and the respective units in the apartment which they should select.

Furthermore, if your group is a mixed gender group, you must both opt-in to Gender Neutral Housing and select a fully empty Gender Neutral unit.

Please note, units cannot be placed on hold, and we cannot guarantee that someone else will not select a unit you are considering. Additionally, if you confirm your unit selection prior to your friend’s selection, the unit will no longer be completely empty, therefore they must filter by address to find the respective empty rooms in the unit you’ve selected.

Screenshot of filter to show completely empty apartments in housing selection

When you are ready to select and confirm a unit, click the Confirm button in the light blue highlighted selection box and you will be prompted to the assignment page. On the assignment page you will receive one offer for the unit you selected.

Screenshot of unit selection screen in housing selection

No, the unit you confirm as your offer is your only offer – you cannot return to the selection page after clicking Confirm in your selected unit box. If you wish to select a different unit after having received an offer, you must decline your offer and submit another housing application to restart the housing application and approval process.

You may select another unit only if your school approves you for housing a second time, and such approval is not guaranteed. Please note, multiple rounds are occurring per day, therefore inventory is constantly changing and a unit you might have seen before may no longer be available.

Housing Offer

You will have two days to accept the offer on the Housing Portal. The expiration date is listed in the housing offer, and the offer will expire at 11:59 pm ET on that day. Please note, a reservation fee payment of $750 is required to accept the offer.

Screenshot of Housing Portal page where prospective resident can accept or decline a housing offer

A $750 reservation fee payment is required to accept a housing offer, payable by credit or debit card only. This payment is credited to the Student Financial Services account after move-in and is considered a pre-payment that will be applied toward the first month's rent.

Viewing appointments may be available if the unit selected is unoccupied and not under construction. For more information, see Viewing a Housing Offer.

Changes to your move-in date will rarely be accommodated and may incur a financial obligation. Please consider the policy information below when choosing a move-in date.  

Early move-ins will not be considered so please ensure that you schedule your move-in before Orientation or the start of classes. If your plans change and you need housing before your agreement start date, we recommend reviewing the short-term housing options listed on the Columbia University Office of Work/Life website.

If your move-in needs to be adjusted to a later date, we can accommodate change this to another date within the Columbia Residential Move-in Hours. However, please note that incoming residents will be responsible for rent starting on the move-in date listed on the housing agreement.

If you decline your offer or it expires, you will need to submit a new application in the Housing Portal to be considered for housing again.

A second approval is up to your school, and not guaranteed. Students not approved for housing a second time may participate in the waitlist (availability permitting).

Kindly note, students may submit up to two applications for housing in any one semester; subsequent applications will not be considered.

Have a question you think we missed? 

Email us at [email protected] so we can help address your question and possibly add it to this page to help other potential residents!