FAQs for Academic Year 2020/21

Last Updated:

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June 14, 2021

This page provides helpful information for students invited to live in Columbia Housing for Academic Year 2020/21.

The Guide to Living remains the central source of information and policies for living in the residence halls and has been updated to reflect changes due to COVID-19. Additionally, the University's COVID-19 Resource website is a source of information.

*Please be advised that information here is subject to change as health guidance and University plans are updated.*



No, campus housing will not be offered for students enrolled only in Summer B. For additional information, see the Columbia College website.

Yes, all students living in campus housing for the summer will be in air-conditioned buildings or will have window units installed in their room. 

Please visit the Rate Structure page to learn more.

Students may cancel their request to live on campus for the Summer Term via the Housing Portal up until April 26 at 11:59 pm with no fee. Following that time, cancellation fees for returning students will be assessed. Please review the Cancellation page in the Guide to Living to learn more about late cancellation fees and the cancellation procedure. 

No, interim periods are priced separately from summer housing. Review the Interim Housing section below or visit the Rate Structure page to learn more. 


Students who are new to campus

Yes, all students who are new to campus for Summer Term will be required to complete a gateway test through Columbia Health during the Check-In process.

Students who were on campus for Spring Term

No, students who were on campus for Spring Term do not need to complete a gateway test. However, you will be required to continue the twice weekly testing through the end of Summer Term A through Columbia Health.

Please be advised that information related to travel and quarantine is subject to change as state and local health guidance and University plans are updated.

Students who are new to campus

Yes, all students will need to quarantine pending the result of their gateway test. Students should follow updates to other travel quarantine requirements outlined in the New York State Travel Advisory.

Students who were on campus for Spring Term

Students who were on campus for Spring Term do not need to complete a gateway test. Students who travel between Spring and Summer Terms should follow updates to travel quarantine requirements outlined in the New York State Travel Advisory.

Starting with Summer B term, students who are vaccinated will not be required to participate in the twice weekly testing program. However, they may still be selected as a part of a random campus sample and be required to complete a test. 

Vaccinated students must upload their documentation to the Columbia Health Patient Portal by the June 18th deadline or they will still be required to test twice weekly.


Interim housing applies to the days between the end of one term and the beginning of the next, i.e., between the end of Spring Term and the start of Summer Term A. These periods are priced separately from summer housing and apply during the following periods:

  • Spring Interim Housing is between Spring Term and Summer Term A, April 27 – May 3
  • Summer Interim Housing is between Summer Terms A and B, June 21 – 28 
  • Fall Interim Housing is between Summer Term B and Fall Term, August 16 – September 4

All interim housing is priced separately from summer housing. Please visit the Rate Structure page to learn more.

Visit the Rate Structure page to learn more.

If you are eligible for either of the optional interim periods, you will be able to apply through the Housing Portal. Requests for Spring Interim Housing can be submitted with your Summer 2021 Housing Application and requests for Fall Interim Housing can be submitted with your Fall 2021 Housing Application.


Check-out dates for Fall and Spring Terms can be found in the Housing calendar.

Information regarding the Check-Out process can be found under the Current Students menu on our website.

Yes. Blue bins will be available during Check-Out. More information is available on the Check-Out page.

To ensure appropriate physical distancing, only one guest can accompany a student into the residence hall at a time. All guests must sign-in with Public Safety when entering the residence halls.

In the interest of safety, we encourage you to bring as few guests to campus as possible to facilitate your Check-Out.

Full details on the Check-Out process are available on the Check-Out page. All students must complete Web Check-Out via the Housing portal prior to leaving their rooms.

You may contract a storage vendor to pack your belongings. Submit the Vendor Access Request Form so that Housing can provide your storage vendor with access to your building and room.

Residents are financially responsible for any damages, missing items, or unsatisfactory conditions in their room. More information is available on the Check-Out page and in the Damage and Vandalism information in the Guide to Living.

Submit a Service Request for all damages to your room prior to leaving for the winter break.

Late Check-Outs are not permitted. Fees may be assessed if you do not check out before the stated deadlines on the Housing Calendar. Please review the Check-Out page in the Guide to Living to learn more. 


Campus will continue to operate under strict public health guidelines; any students on campus during the summer will be expected to adhere to the Columbia Community Health Compact, undergo regular COVID-19 testing and follow all guidelines required by the University.

Columbia Dining will operate during Summer 2021 Term A and B. Learn more about the meal plan options and how to register on the Dining website.


Students in residence are required to follow public health guidance, which includes wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, ensuring frequent hand washing, participating in the mandatory testing program, and limiting the size of social gatherings. Students will be expected to agree to the Columbia University Compact

Summer A

No. Residents may not sign-in or host guests, including Columbia students living in another residence hall, Columbia students living off-campus, family members or significant others.

Students are encouraged to socialize outdoors while practicing physical distancing or by using technological tools.

Summer B

Residential students will have expanded ID access to all residence halls in-use for summer term, allowing them to enter residence halls beyond their contractually assigned building and to host residential students living in a different building. However, residential students will not be permitted to sign in Columbia students living off-campus, family members or significant others.

As stated above in the visitor question, students may not sign-in or host guests. In addition, students are encouraged to limit social gatherings in their room and are expected to comply with University and public health guidance when gathering. This includes maintaining 6 feet of physical distance and wearing a face covering.

Students are encouraged to socialize outdoors while practicing physical distancing or by using technological tools.

Residence hall lounges are open, but restricted based on reduced capacity requirements. Lounges are to be used by residents of that building only.

No. Residential hall lounges are restricted to building residents only.

Laundry rooms are open, but students are asked to follow capacity requirements and public health guidance, including wearing a face covering.

Columbia University Facilities and Operations has stringent cleaning standards and procedures in place. Learn more about these cleaning protocols and other enhancements made on campus.

In the residence halls, Facilities and Operations custodial teams have increased cleaning schedules in common spaces, including communal bathrooms in corridor buildings. In order to eliminate unnecessary traffic into private spaces, custodial staff do not clean in-suite or shared bathrooms. Students assigned to suite style buildings are provided with cleaning supplies so that they can clean their bathrooms.

Following city, state, and federal guidance, residence hall occupancy is designed so that bathrooms are shared by a minimum number of students, following a ratio of 4 students to 1 bathroom fixture or less where possible. Capacities is clearly posted for students using communal restrooms. Students have assigned bathrooms to ensure access without crowding.

Maximum capacities are displayed for all elevators. Students are encouraged to use the stairs whenever able.

Columbia Housing and Columbia Health have identified a residence hall that will be used for safe isolation of any resident who becomes ill. As residential students will be assigned single rooms, in many cases, quarantine (when a student has potentially been exposed, but is not ill) can occur in their current residential space. Learn more about the protocols in place for isolation, quarantine and care for undergraduate students.

All students, including those living off campus, will be asked to abide by the Columbia Community Health Compact. Every member of the community has a responsibility to follow through this commitment and will be held accountable for doing so.

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.


Students who are new to campus for Summer Term: Students who are new to campus for Summer Term (i.e., were not on campus for Spring Term) will be required to quarantine until a negative gateway test result has been confirmed. Gateway testing must be completed through Columbia Health.

Students who were on campus for Spring Term: There is no gateway testing/gateway quarantine requirement for students who lived on campus for Spring Term.

Travel-based quarantine requirements are determined by New York State. University updates based on evolving requirements can be found on the University COVID-19 website.

Per the New York State Travel Advisory, all travelers from non-contiguous states and abroad must complete the Traveler Health Form upon entering New York. Travelers who leave the airport without completing the form will be subject to a $10,000 fine and may be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete mandatory quarantine. Travelers coming to New York through other means of transport, including trains and cars, must fill out the form online.

Students who are required to quarantine will be required to stay in their assigned room for 2-10 days, starting at Check-In. Students on a Dining Plan will have meals delivered to the building. Students not on a Dining Plan should make arrangements to have food delivered to the building lobby. Students who do not have private bathrooms (i.e. in buildings with shared bathrooms) will have full access to assigned restrooms but are expected to take precautions to limit their exposure. This includes, but is not limited to, wearing a face covering, maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from floormates, and refraining from socializing in the restrooms and hallways.

Medical support through Columbia Health will be provided to all students in quarantine, as needed:

  • Medical check-ins.
  • Psychological support (access to individual counseling and virtual support spaces)
  • 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 the University's COVID-19 website.

Students are encouraged to bring enough clean laundry to cover the 2-10-day precautionary quarantine. Students observing quarantine are not permitted to use the building laundry facilities during this time.


Room assignments for upperclass students (rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors) are determined through Room Selection, an annual process during which current undergraduate students select on-campus housing for the following academic year. The Room Selection process is proceeding as if we will be reunited on campus for the fall semester. However, on-campus housing decisions are subject to state, city, and University guidance and may change as public health recommendations evolve. Learn more about the process and find answers to frequently asked questions on the Room Selection page.

Cancellation fees are available on the Cancellation page.

At this time, we anticipate full occupancy of the Columbia Housing residence halls this fall. If a dramatic turn in the trajectory of the pandemic necessitates any future changes, we will reevaluate the cancellation fee timeline.