Room Assignments and Room Transfers
Upon acceptance to Columbia, you are required to complete a housing application form indicating your housing preferences. Your assignment is then generated through a randomized computer process.
All students who submit their housing materials by the deadline receive equal consideration. Seniority and random number selection govern your placement in upperclass housing. Every Housing resident who is eligible for housing the following year will register to participate in the Housing Lottery and Room Selection in March/April. Rising seniors always get first choice of space, followed by juniors and then sophomores. The order within each class is determined by lottery. Detailed information about Room Selection will be posted in early March.
- Transfer, Visiting, and Five-Year Program Students
- Study Abroad
- Medical Leaves
- Greek Housing/IRC
- Non Full-Time Students
- Loss of Guaranteed Housing
- Failure to Participate in Room Selection
- Failure to Sign Your Occupancy Agreement
- First-Year Housing Policy
- Room Transfer Requests
- Summer Transfer of Fall Assignment Requests
- Room Swaps
- Summer Housing
Incoming first-year students at Columbia College (CC) or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are guaranteed four consecutive years of housing, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements. For loss of eligibility, see Loss of Guaranteed Housing.
If you live near New York, are living at home, and have been given permission to commute by the Assistant Dean of Community Development and Residential Programs, you may begin housing in your second year without forfeiting your guarantee of residence. Please note, however, that if you choose this option, you must apply for accommodations in your second year by October 15 of your first year, or you risk losing guaranteed housing status. Also be aware that moving from the residence halls to off-campus housing, a non-Columbia-owned Greek building or to your family’s home at any point may also cause you to lose guaranteed housing.
Transfer, Visiting, and Five-Year Program Students
Rising sophomores transferring to CC are guaranteed six consecutive terms, while rising juniors are guaranteed four consecutive terms. You must accept an assignment in your first term of attendance at Columbia and maintain continued occupancy in Housing residence halls through graduation.
Transfers into the regular four-year program at SEAS are eligible to live in residence halls and will be assigned a room before arrival. Rising sophomores transferring to SEAS are guaranteed six consecutive terms, while rising juniors are guaranteed four consecutive terms. You must accept an assignment in your first term of attendance at Columbia and maintain continued occupancy in Housing residence halls through graduation.
New SEAS 3-2 or 4-2 transfers who are a part of the undergraduate Combined Plan Program are guaranteed housing during their first engineering year in Carlton Arms through the University Apartment Housing Office (UAH) and will receive instructions on how to apply for housing when offered admission. While Columbia will do its best to accommodate students’ requests to live on campus after the first year, there is no guarantee that Combined Plan students will be offered a room on campus beyond the first year. Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) assists Columbia students and affiliates in their search for housing in non-Columbia owned buildings in the metropolitan area. OCHA maintains a website and regular office hours to provide advice, resources and an online database of available housing.
If you enter CC as a first-year student in an authorized five-year program such as the 4-1 SEAS or HEOP, you are guaranteed housing for 10 terms. You may enter the lottery twice with senior standing.
Housing is not guaranteed for Visiting Students, although we will try our best to accommodate students who indicate a desire to live on campus. Admitted students will be notified at the time of admission if they will receive housing. If you enroll at Columbia for a second semester, you will be notified if housing will be available when you extend your enrollment.
If you study abroad for one or two terms under a program approved by your school, pay tuition to Columbia for this program, and have guaranteed housing when you leave, you are still guaranteed housing when you return. If you are on an approved study abroad in the spring term, you may designate a proxy to select a room for you in Room Selection. Keep in mind that your time away is deducted from the eight or ten-term eligibility described above. If you stay longer without receiving necessary approval, you will lose guaranteed housing status.
If you are a student in CC or SEAS who has been granted a medical leave of absence and have guaranteed housing when you leave, you are guaranteed housing upon readmission. However, you will not participate in Room Selection for the school year in which you return. Instead, you will be assigned a room over the summer, pending readmission. Applications for Housing must be received by July 1 to guarantee an assignment upon readmission.
Greek Housing/Brownstone SICs
You may live in a Columbia-owned fraternity or sorority building off-campus or in a Brownstone SIC and still maintain guaranteed housing in the residence halls. You must sign an Occupancy Agreement with Housing. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you may participate in Room Selection for the next year.
Reentry into the residence halls during the academic year requires a transfer and is not guaranteed. Students living in Greek housing that is not owned by the University will be considered commuters and will lose their guaranteed housing status. Please contact a Housing representative in 118 Hartley for more information on these options.
Non Full-Time Students
Housing in residence halls is available only for full-time undergraduate students in CC and SEAS. If you are not registered for the minimum number of credits, your Occupancy Agreement will be terminated and you will be required to move out of your residence hall. The status of your guaranteed housing depends on the circumstances of your withdrawal.
Loss of Guaranteed Housing
You may lose guaranteed housing status for one of the following reasons:
- non full-time status
- voluntary withdrawal from school
- required withdrawal from school
- moving from Columbia Housing residence halls and Brownstones to off-campus housing or a non-Columbia-owned Greek building
- disciplinary action
- unapproved study abroad
- failure to graduate on time (ninth-term seniors)
- failure to register for and participate in the Housing Lottery/Room Selection
- failure to sign an Occupancy Agreement during the period
- failure to live in residence during your first year of admittance and failure to register for Room Selection for your sophomore year
If you lose guaranteed housing, you may never again participate in Room Selection and you are no longer guaranteed a room. However, you are still permitted to live in the residence halls. If you would like to try to obtain an assignment, you must apply to the Non-Guaranteed Wait List each year after you lose guaranteed housing.
In recent years, it has not been possible to house all of the CC and SEAS students on the Non-Guaranteed Wait List. In fact, less than 20% of all upperclass students on the wait list obtain housing through Columbia Housing. Therefore, if you are returning from a voluntary or required withdrawal, or have otherwise lost guaranteed housing status, you should attempt to seek off-campus housing through Columbia’s Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) For best results, begin your search well in advance of the start of the fall term.
Failure to Participate in Room Selection
If you fail to register for Room Selection by the deadline, you will lose your guaranteed housing status. You will need to follow the Non-Guaranteed Housing application process.
If you are a rising sophomore but there are no rooms available at your Room Selection appointment, you must complete the Housing Portal Waitlist Step to be placed on the Sophomore Wait List. This enables you to retain your guaranteed housing status and ensures that you will receive a fall assignment. You will then be assigned a room over the summer.
Failure to Sign Your Occupancy Agreement
Students must sign their Occupancy Agreement before they check into their assigned room. Students who have failed to sign their Occupancy Agreement will be charged $100 dollars a day, beginning at 9am the day after they check-in until their agreement is signed.
First-Year Housing Policy
If you are a first-year student of either CC or SEAS, you are prohibited from living off-campus (this includes Greek housing), unless you are commuting from the home of your parent(s) or guardian. If you choose to commute, you must apply and receive permission from Residential Programs. Additionally, if you intend to move on-campus your sophomore year, you must apply for housing by October 15 of your first year in order to maintain your eligibility and guaranteed housing status.
Room Transfer Requests
Room Transfer Request forms are accepted during the first two weeks of classes each term. They are processed in order of seniority and availability, and then by date of application. These transfer requests must be approved by your RA and AD to be accepted.Please have your RA and AD's approval signatures before coming to the Hartley Hospitality Desk.
Submission of this application is binding. That is to say, if you are authorized for a transfer, you agree to abide by the following rules:
1. If we are able to meet one of your choices, you will be required to move within 24 hours. Failure to move will result a $250 penalty that will be charged to your student account.
2. If you begin moving and do not complete your move within 24 hours of signing your contract, the items in your old room will be considered trash and discarded. The fee for this will be $250.
3. Pay the daily charges for the space into which that resident transfers, from the day the transfer becomes effective until the last day of the contract period.
4. Pay the daily charges for the space from which you transfer, from the first day of the contract period until the day the transfer becomes effective, or when all personal property is removed and the keys are returned, whichever is later.
5. You must Check-Out from your old room properly. Please return your old key.
Once your transfer has been completed, the following information will appear on your student account:
- A prorated daily charge for the room you are leaving, up to the date of transfer.
- A prorated daily charge for your new room, effective the date of transfer.
- Daily charges for your previous room until all keys are returned (only if you fail to return all your old keys within 24 hours).
The room charges on your bill will be split between the two rooms and reflect the difference between the new and old room rates.
Please be aware of the following policies:
- Upperclass students cannot transfer into first year space, and vice versa.
- If you are discovered living in a room other than the one for which you have a signed Occupancy Agreement, you will be charged a $250 administrative fee and will be required to return to your assigned room.
- To ensure fairness to all residents in the Room Selection process, all room transfer requests for academic year spaces are processed in accordance with the rules and regulations established by Columbia Housing.
- There will be no room transfer during Winter break. All moving must take place by the Fall semester Check-Out date.
Summer Transfer of Fall Assignment Requests
If you are not satisfied with the room that you chose during Room Selection, you may request a Summer Transfer of your Fall assignment. If space becomes available over the Summer, we will transfer you to a new room. To be eligible, you must complete the "Summer Transfer of Fall Assignment" step in the Housing Portal. Once you sign into the Housing Portal and select the Application tab, click on Academic Year 12-13, and you should find the menu option for "Summer Transfer of Fall Assignment".
The form enables Housing to approve an automatic transfer to any accommodation that matches your specifications. The match might be as exact as a particular residence hall and room number that you specify, or more general. You cannot decline the transfer once it has been made, but you will not be transferred to a space that does not meet the requirements you list on your form.
Summer Transfer of Fall Assignment Requests are processed by class year (1) and reverse lottery number (2). For example, a senior with lottery number 3,000 will be transferred before a senior with lottery number 1; and a senior with lottery number 1 will be transferred before a junior with lottery number 3,000. Students who registered late for the lottery will receive the lowest priority within their class.
Limited Fall Assignment transfers are available during the summer. Your transfer request will be acted upon only if a room meeting your listed requirements becomes available. If your request is processed, you will be emailed with your new assignment. You must sign your new Occupancy Agreement online before you Check-In for the Fall term. If your Summer Transfer of Fall Assignment Request cannot be met, you may reapply for a Fall Transfer in September - Summer Transfer of Fall Assignment Requests do not automatically roll over to the Fall term.
Two students may swap rooms if both students are in the same class. If a double room or a room on a single-sex floor is involved, the students must be of the same gender. Both residents must sign a new Occupancy Agreement in their Housing Portal after the swap has been processed.
A Columbia student may never swap with a Barnard student, regardless of where the rooms are located, and you may swap only once per academic year.
If you are eligible to swap, you must complete the steps listed below to complete the room swap:
- Both you and the resident with whom you wish to swap must go in person together to the Housing Assignments office, after you have received a signature from both your RA and AD, to submit Room Swap Applications, and sign out your new keys.
- Both of you mustretrieve your new keys from the Hartley Hospitality Desk and move within 24 hours of signing your new Occupancy Agreements. Your swap will be voided if your moves are not completed within 24 hours.
In addition, please be aware of the following policies:
- Swaps must have the signature of your RA and AD on each Request Form for the swap to be accepted.
- Room keys should not be exchanged between students participating in a room swap. Key exchanges can only take place at the Hospitality Desk. If students fail to obtain and return keys properly, they will be charged for an improper room swap ($100), charged for an unreturned key($15), and billed for a lock change ($50).
- If you offer or solicit a room for reward, gain, or through coercion, your swap or transfer will be voided and you will be subject to Dean’s Discipline.
- You must occupy the rooms for which you have contracted and sign your Occupancy Agreement. If either student fails to sign an Occupancy Agreement following a swap approval or does not physically move within 24 hours of signing the new Occupancy Agreement, the swap will be voided.
- Swaps tend to occur just before one of the residents cancels their Occupancy Agreement. Therefore, you should be aware that canceling your Occupancy Agreement can lead to liability charges as outlined in the Terms and Conditions of Residence.
- Your swap must be approved by Residential Programs and Housing, and both departments reserve the right to deny Swaps.
- There will be no room swap moving between December 22 - January 30. All moving must take place before or after these dates.
We offer Summer Accommodations for students of Columbia and its affiliates. You must be at least 18 years old, have been a college student for at least one year, and be enrolled in one of the following:
- the spring term prior to the first summer session
- the fall term following the second summer session
- summer courses at Columbia
First-year students entering Columbia in the Fall for their first semester are not eligible for summer housing.