Columbia Housing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Students in Residence Halls

Updated July 7, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.

Information for Students Staying on Campus

Students who are approved to stay on campus must agree to comply with the policies and guidelines detailed in the Guide to Living and Community Standards & Behavioral Expectations.

A key theme of the Community Standards & Behavioral Expectations in the Guide to Living is that “Students may not engage in behavior that infringes on individual or group rights by jeopardizing the health and safety of individuals and property.” We ask that you particularly keep this statement in mind during this time when you and your campus neighbors are dealing with the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak. Social distancing, washing hands frequently, and other similar guidelines help us all protect the health and safety of the Columbia community.

Residence Hall Guidelines:

  • Please make sure to only use your assigned bathroom fixture.
  • Only kitchen lounges will remain open and only for food preparation. Please stagger use and respect physical distancing guidelines. Do not congregate in these areas.  
  • Stay in your own room or suite except to get food, medicine or exercise. Remember that it’s okay to go outdoors, but continue to avoid close contact with others when you do.
  • Requirements for physical distancing as outlined by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order for New York State on PAUSE include the cancellation of “non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.” This means that, though it may be tempting, you should not be hanging out in-person with friends in your residence hall, in common areas or on other parts of campus unless you are already living in the same room or suite.
  • Limit your use of common spaces and disinfect any surfaces you’ve used before you leave these areas.
  • As per Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order, in effect as of April 17, 2020, you are required to wear a face covering when you are in common areas or out in public, especially when physical distancing is difficult to sustain (such as in a kitchen lounge, in the laundry room or at the grocery store). This includes John Jay Dining Hall.
  • Maintain a minimum of 6 feet between you and others at all times.
  • When you go out to pick up supplies, buy as much as you can at a time in order to minimize the number of trips, and pick a time when the store is least likely to be crowded.

Temporary Housing Policy Changes:

The following change to the policies and guidelines in the Guide to Living is in effect as of Tuesday, March 17 at 11:59 p.m. Additional changes may be made in response to the evolving situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Guest Policy: Columbia students remaining on campus are not able to sign-in or host guests. 
  • Hosting Gatherings: Columbia students remaining on campus are not able to host gatherings of any size in their room, suite, or common lounges.

A student engaging in policy violations during this time puts their housing status at risk. 

Columbia Dining

  • Columbia Dining operations are closed for the summer.
  • Neighborhood food businesses are also open for takeout and deliveries. Some of those businesses accept Flex. See a listing here. Lear more about how Columbia is helping to support local businesses

Columbia Housing

  • Call 212-854-2779. Updated Hospitality Desk Hours Monday – Sunday, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

  • Effective Tuesday, June 2 the Hospitality Desk will operate Monday - Sunday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

  • For maintenance requests visit the Housing website and click on the Service Request button.  

  • If you find yourself locked out of your room during operating hours, go to the Hartley Hospitality Desk for assistance. When the Hartley Hospitality Desk is closed, call Public Safety at 212-854-2797 or visit Public Safety in 111 Low Library for lockout assistance.  

Columbia Health

  • Columbia Health services, including Medical Services and Counseling and Psychological Services, are available via virtual delivery. Staff remain available to support you via phone or email. Learn more about accessing care remotely.
  • If you have concerns about your health, please call the Columbia COVID-19 hotline at 212-854-9355, available Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • In light of widespread transmission in New York City, the best way to keep yourself and community safe is to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing.
  • Follow the recommendations offered by Columbia Health, which include keeping at least 6 feet from others, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is unsustainable, frequent handwashing, coughing/sneezing into elbow, avoiding sharing food and drink, regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces and staying in your room if you feel sick.
  • If you are unsure whether to self-isolate, please use this guide to understand your level of exposure and the appropriate action.
  • If you are self-isolating, Columbia Health has tips you can follow
  • Tests looking for the SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) infection have recently become widely available to the public, many with varying degrees of accuracy and usefulness. Learn about these coronavirus tests (diagnostic tests and antibody tests) to help you understand them and determine if they are something you should consider.

Additionally, the Health Guidance page of the University COVID-19 site provides an overview of how to keep yourself healthy and your space clean during the pandemic, as well as instructions for what to do should you start to develop symptoms of COVID-19.

Student Mail

  • The Student Mail Center is open 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Monday–Friday.
  • FAQs about mail forwarding, picking up packages, and package holding periods are available on the Columbia Mail website.


  • Columbia shuttles will continue to run as scheduled until further notice. Summer schedules will be in effect as of Monday 5/18. Riders can check the Passio Go! app for up-to-date, real-time shuttle tracking.


  • Your advisers at the Berick Center for Student Advising are available to meet virtually and advise on academics or any other issues. Visit the CSA website to schedule an appointment by phone or video conference.
  • Career counselors at the Center for Career Education (CCE) are available and eager to connect with you virtually via phone or Zoom. CCE is talking with employers and is happy to provide support with any employer conversations you may have given this rapidly evolving situation.
  • Student group members: Advisers will be sending out information as it becomes available on pre-calendaring, allocations and ways to engage your organization virtually.

See other summer campus operations updates on the COVID-19 website.

Columbia Resources

New York City News and Updates

Get On-Campus Support

Stay connected to Columbia and your personal support network via social media, chat, phone and video.

Refer to the Check-Out process detailed on the Columbia Housing site.

What is the current status?

Due to reported cases of COVID-19 in New York City and within the Columbia community, all undergraduate students at Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science were asked to move out of Columbia residence halls. The University is not offering summer housing. Only students who were approved for an exemption have room access. Building access is controlled by Public Safety at the guard desks at each residence hall's entrance.

Undergraduate students who resided in a residence hall at Columbia will receive a pro-rated refund based on the day you vacate your residence hall and check out in the Housing Portal.

First-Year Dining Plan refunds will be pro-rated according to the date of check out of from Housing. Voluntary meal plan refunds will be issued for all unused meals.

Students will receive a credit on their Student Account Statement. Students who received financial aid will receive more information. See the Student Financial Services website for more information about refunds.

Financial assistance was made available to all students in our residence halls to ensure that everyone had the means to leave campus.  

All undergraduate students were eligible for up to $500 in emergency funding to assist with travel, storage, and moving logistics.

I was approved to remain on campus and am still living in my room.

Columbia Dining is closed for the summer.

Columbia Health is dedicated to the health and safety of our students and is available should you become ill with COVID-19 symptoms or any other health issue. Given the current circumstances most of our services have now moved to virtual delivery in order to protect the health and safety of our medical professionals as well as the Columbia community.

For more information about accessing our virtual services, refer to this overview on the Preparedness website.

Custodial and maintenance services will remain in place. Basics such as hand soap, toilet paper, and trash bags for personal use will be available at the Hartley Hospitality Desk. 

Public Safety will continue to staff all occupied residence hall entrances. Students remaining in residence will maintain building and room access.