Housing Policies


Eligibility for campus housing is limited to Barnard students and approved visiting students who have both completed the registration and program filing processes and have made all required payments by the payment deadlines.  Some Columbia students may also be eligible, providing they meet the requirements for the Barnard/Columbia Housing Exchange as defined by both Barnard Residential Life & Housing and Columbia University Undergraduate Housing Services. 

Students must be enrolled at Barnard on a full-time basis.  Students who cease to be enrolled full-time may lose their eligibility to retain their housing assignment if there are full-time enrolled applicants waiting for housing.  

Eligibility for residence on campus does not equal a guarantee.  If for any reason a student ceases to be eligible for residence, they must vacate their room within 48 hours.  If a student fails to register with the College or fails to check in to the residence hall assignment by 5pm on the first day of classes each semester, they forfeit their assigned space (and are liable for cancellation charges).  This Housing Contract must be signed by the student by the first day of classes; otherwise, a student forfeits their assigned space.

Assignments & Room Changes

Any of the occupants, furnishings, features, and configuration of the room/suite and/or a student’s room assignment shall be made and may be changed by the College at any time, at its sole discretion.  Requests specifying only one particular residence or type of housing cannot be accommodated, nor can roommate/suitemate preferences based upon race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, religious practices, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, dietary preferences, physical abilities, and/or age.  Any occurrences of verbal or physical intimidation with the intention of forcing a roommate to move or creating an atmosphere of discomfort for a new resident will not be tolerated and may lead to conduct action.  Room assignments may be affected by Local Law 11 or required façade renovation, including (but not limited to) demolition, construction, and other noise producing work.

Upperclass Student Room Changes

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors may request a room change in the Fall (mid-September), for the Spring semester (early December), or in the Spring (late January).  Room changes at any other point in the academic year are infrequently granted and require that a student has demonstrated an attempt to mediate any roommate/suitemate conflicts.  Any room changes that are not approved by Residential Life & Housing are a violation of policy and the responsible student(s) will be required to return to their previous room and will be subject to conduct action.  Students vacating the residence halls at the end of the Fall semester are expected to accommodate any student who may be moving into their space for the Spring semester as part of the December Room Change process (students making a December room change are required to vacate their Fall room prior to the start of the Winter Break).  Columbia students in residence at Barnard are guided by the room change policies and procedures of Columbia University.  Barnard students in residence at Columbia are guided by the policies and procedures of Barnard College.

First Year Student Room Changes

The Director for the First Year Focus program makes room changes for first-year students on a case-by-case basis only.  Any student with roommate concerns will first participate in a roommate discussion / negotiation during which time the roommate contract will be evaluated and adjusted as needed.  Vacant spaces within rooms will be assigned, at the discretion of Residential Life & Housing staff, to students needing room changes, using a student’s Housing Application to help match new roommates.

Disability Housing Requests

Students with diagnosed disabilities who may need some form of disability-related housing consideration (e.g. accessible housing, access to a private bath or kitchen, strobe alarm) must be registered with the Office of Disability Services (ODS).  In addition, a Disability Housing Request form must be completed and submitted adhering to Residential Life & Housing deadlines.  Students should consult with ODS staff if needs arise beyond the published deadline or to review their needs and the accommodation request process.

It is the student's responsibility to submit the necessary paperwork for each Housing request period.  Previous accommodations are not automatically extended without submitting an updated request form and relevant ODS follow up for the upcoming academic year, summer, and/or interim housing period.   

Room Rates

Please visit https://barnard.edu/reslife/policies/housing/room-rates

Housing Period

The housing period begins at the time the student takes occupancy of the assigned space, which must be no later than 5pm on the first day of classes for each semester.  The housing period ends 24 hours after the time a student ceases to be eligible for residence or within 24 hours after the student’s last scheduled final examination.  This will be no later than 9am on Thursday December 24, 2015 for the Fall semester and 5pm on Friday, May 13, 2016 for the Spring semester, regardless of the date/time of the resident’s last exam.  Any residential student who cancels their housing for the Spring semester (to withdraw from the College, graduate mid-year, move off-campus, study abroad, etc.) must vacate their assigned space no later than 9am on Friday, December 24, 2015.

The residence halls remain open during Fall, Thanksgiving, and Spring Breaks, but are officially closed for Winter Break (9am on Thursday, December 24, 2015, through 9am on Saturday, January 16, 2016).  To be permitted to leave belongings in their room over the Winter Break, students must be in residence for both the Fall & Spring semesters and must be in good standing with the College (including the payment of Spring charges by the December 1 payment deadline).  Only an extremely limited number of students involved in "mission critical" roles will be permitted to reside in housing during the Winter Break, which will carry an additional fee.

Occupancy and Use

At all times, only the student shall occupy the assigned space.  Under no circumstances may a student swap assignments or keys with another student, sublet their room, or provide regular housing to any other person(s). 

Additional temporary occupants (i.e. guests) are subject to the rules and regulations of the residence halls and the College.  Barnard students living in Columbia residence halls are subject to all rules as outlined in this handbook.  See also: Guest Policies

Residential Life & Housing reserves the right to assign any vacant space (including partially occupied multiple rooms and/or single rooms within suites) at any time, and is not obligated to inform roommates or suitemates of changes.  Any student with a vacancy in their room / suite must keep the space open and ready for assignment at any point.  Residential Life & Housing has the right to move any such possessions that may be blocking a new student’s assigned space.  Residents who fail to keep a vacant space free of their possessions will be subject to disciplinary action and will be charged for any costs involved in having these items moved.

Access to Student Room and Suite Spaces

The College reserves the right to enter, repair, inventory, inspect, or search (without prior consent and in appropriate situations) any student space at any time.  This includes Residential Life & Housing staff, Public Safety, Facilities, and any other College employee or contractor who has a legitimate need to enter the space.  Students cannot refuse access to a College employee or contractor who is in the process of performing the responsibilities of their position.  Staff will knock and announcement when in need of entering an individually assigned room, students are expected to respond.  Students cannot refuse access to a College employee who is in the process of performing the responsibilities of their position; such refusal is a violation of policy and subject to disciplinary action.  

Personal Property

The College accepts no responsibility for the loss of or damage to a student’s personal property, and advises that all students insure personal property against loss, damage or destruction arising from any cause, including (but not limited to) fire, theft, water damage, and the elements.  In the event of damage by fire, water, steam, or other causes that render an assigned space unfit for occupancy, the College reserves the right to reassign the occupant(s) to alternate designated housing.  If a student rejects the offer of an alternate assignment, the College shall not be liable thereafter.

The College encourages all residential students to evaluate their family’s homeowners or renters insurance and to include the student’s belongings as part of that policy and/or to acquire student insurance to cover such situations.  An example of a student insurance company is National Student Services (nssi.com). 

Any student personal property that is in direct violation of Residential Life & Housing policy (including, but not limited to, items left in common areas and/or hallways, candles, halogen lamps, open coil burners, toasters, air conditioners, hookahs, drug paraphernalia) will be confiscated and then discarded or donated to a local charity after 5 working days.

Condition of Premises

By taking occupancy of the space, the student accepts its condition "as is" at such time and assumes responsibility to maintain the space and any common areas in which the assigned space is located, in a clean, safe, and undamaged condition at all times.  If necessary repairs are not reported by the student during the academic year and are NOT noted on the RCR/SCR form, the student occupant(s) are held financially responsible for the repair.  Common areas (e.g. suite or floor kitchens, bathrooms, lounges) are the responsibility of all members of the community, and all members of the community are jointly responsible for cleaning and maintaining them.  

When vacating the assigned space, residents must remove all personal property and leave the room, any common areas, and any furnishings clean and in the same condition they were in when occupancy commenced.  Any personal property left in the room or the common areas will be promptly removed and discarded at the expense of the resident.  Cleaning, repair and disposal charges for common areas will be assessed equally among all occupants of the area unless individual responsibility is established before departure

There is no altering of the room, furniture, or other facilities of the residence hall permitted, including (but not limited to) painting any walls or surfaces, applying stickers or hooks, or removal of College provided furniture.  The only approved method of affixing items to walls for decoration is blue “painters” tape.  Duct tape, packing tape, two-sided tape, masking tape and other strong adhesives are NEVER to be used to adhere items to a wall or other college owned furniture.  Students will be fined for tape or sticker residue left and/or any damage done to the surface from where it was removed.  In addition, cinder blocks are not permitted in any location, and students will be billed for their removal as well as for any damaged as a result of their use. 

Damages and Expenses

All students are expected to follow established procedures for check-in and check-out of their room assignment.  Failure to properly check-in in a timely fashion will result in loss of the room assignment and failure to vacate by the day and time published will result in a fine for improper check-out and/or removal of personal belongings.

In addition, the student shall reimburse the College upon request for all damages or expenses which the College may suffer or incur for repair or excessive cleaning of any residence hall, or for repair or replacement of College-provided furniture and/or equipment (including smoke detectors), caused by the misconduct or neglect of the student or of their guests.  Any damages or expenses incurred in a room or facility within the residence halls will be charged equally to all residents of that room/suite or users of that facility unless the responsible person or persons assume specific liability.

Charges are assessed by Residential Life & Housing staff and will be billed to the student’s account.  Failure to pay such charges may be cause for refusal to permit registration or for such other action as may be determined appropriate by the College until sums owed are paid in full.  The policy regarding the referral of delinquent accounts for collection also applies to damages and expenses.  Any appeal of said charges must be submitted in writing by the student within 30 days of the charge being posted to the student’s account. 

A more detailed list of damage charges is available at barnard.edu/reslife/policies/damage-charges.

Housing Cancellation & Related Fees

Please see http://barnard.edu/reslife/policies/housing/cancellations