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Frequently Asked Questions

How is the University responding to the Covid-19 pandemic?

Information about the most up-to-date information about Columbia's response to the Covid-19 pandemic is on the Covid-19 Resource Guide for the Columbia Community.

What is a UNI?

UNI stands for University Network Identification. It is a unique combination of your student's initials and an arbitrary number and is linked specifically to your student. It is the identifier by which your student or employee can access computer and electronic resources at Columbia, including Student Services Online (SSOL), housing information, and more.

Every registered Columbia student is given a UNI by the University. First year students need to activate their UNI and receive instructions on how to do so the summer before arriving to campus.

What are important dates to put on my calendar?

See the Family Calendar to keep track of important dates and deadlines.

When will my student get an advisor?

The Berick Center for Student Advising pairs students with advising deans the summer before the first year. Students are able to take advantage of additional formal and informal relationships with a community of advisors throughout their time at Columbia.

When do I pay tuition/bills?

Columbia bills for tuition, fees, and other charges at the beginning of each term. See the billing schedule for the current academic year on the Student Financial Services website.

Does Columbia provide storage during the summer?

There is no storage space available on campus, but area vendors offer fee-based storage services to Columbia students. Students are responsible for negotiating rates, dates and details with their selected vendor. Please find more information on the Housing website.

What will my student do with a major in "X"

The Center for Career Education (CCE) is a wonderful resource for all Columbia students, regardless of class year. Students are highly encouraged to speak with their academic advisors and to meet with career counselors early to explore majors. CCE has statistics, resources, and action plans for students to progress through their studies and blaze their career paths.

Does Columbia provide transportation to nearby airports and train stations?

Due to volume and varying schedules, there is no formally organized shuttle service. However, there are several safe and reliable options for getting to area airports and train stations. Please make sure to consult the MTA Trip Planner for public transportation options, and Google maps for current traffic conditions if traveling by car.

Can students stay in their rooms during break?

Students who qualify may remain in their rooms during academic breaks. Remaining on campus during summer breaks requires an application. Please check the Housing website for details.

How can I send a birthday cake to my student?

Silver Moon Bakery is a local bakery and the perfect place to purchase a cake for delivery. Please note, however, that the residence hall front desks cannot accept packages or sign for deliveries. We recommend either letting your student know that a surprise is coming, or getting in touch with your student's friends to ensure someone is at the residence hall to receive the cake.

How do I send my student mail?

Students receive their four-digit mailbox number the summer before their first academic term. Mail Services requires the following format when sending mail and packages to your student:

Student's Full Name
#### Columbia Student Mail
70 Morningside Drive
New York, NY 10027-7236

What bank should my student use?

Banks offer three basic types of accounts: checking, savings, and money market accounts. Columbia has supplied a list of area banks and their locations to help students decide which will best suit their needs.

Where can I find emergency notifications?

In the event of an emergency on or around campus, students receive email notification with available details and safety tips. Students can also sign up through Student Services Online (SSOL) to receive text message alerts from the University's Emergency Notification System. These alerts are only sent when there is an event that poses an immediate threat. All members of the Columbia community should also review Columbia's Preparedness website for information and resources during extreme weather events and other emergency situations.

How can students safely get around campus late at night?

During the academic year (September to mid-May) students can call the Public Safety Operations Desk for someone to walk them home at night. Columbia University's Escort Service will send two specially trained student escorts to accompany students to their door anytime from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., seven nights a week. Each escort carries a two-way radio linking them directly to Public Safety.

Which Dining Plan is best for my student?

There are a number of dining plans available. There are many things to take into consideration when choosing your student's meal plan. How many meals a day does your student enjoy? Are there any dietary restrictions or needs to consider? We encourage you and your student to discuss the numerous meal plans and make a decision based off of your students needs and preferences.

What is the difference between Dining Dollars and Flex?

Dining dollars can be used at all 12 on-campus dining locations whereas flex dollars can be used in all 12 on-campus dining locations plus the University Bookstore, campus copy machines, vending machines, and for laundry, etc. Both options roll over from year to year until your student graduates. The biggest difference is that dining dollars are tax free and flex dollars are not.

When do incoming first year students find out where and with whom they will be living?

First-year Housing and roommate assignments are emailed to incoming students in late June. The Offer of Assignment and Occupancy Agreement lists the residence hall and room type.

The Guide to Living should answer most of your questions regarding your residence hall, check-in procedures, and housing policies, as well as information about planning and packing for school, and safety and security procedures. You may also want to visit Information for your Arrival or for more information about first-year student housing, please visit the Housing website.

There is a hold on my student's account. How is a hold cleared it and how long does it take?

To have the hold on your account removed quickly, your student should first visit Student Services Online to determine why the hold is on the account, and what office placed the hold.

Next, resolve the outstanding problem that caused the hold. After you have resolved the issue, contact the office that placed the hold directly. Only the office that placed the hold on the account is able to remove it.

Most holds are a result of paying your Columbia bill late or making an incomplete payment. If this is the case, you will have to make a payment to your Student Account to have the hold removed.

There are several payment options to choose from when paying your balance. If you choose to pay the balance on your Student Account online by eCheck, the hold on your account will be automatically released within 24 hours of receipt of the payment. Other than paying the account balance, no further action is required on the part of the student to remove the hold.

For an immediate removal of a hold after the account balance has been paid, contact the Student Service Center during regular business hours, Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. When contacting Student Financial Services, either in person or by phone, please provide the payment confirmation number and the method of payment to the customer service representative. Once the payment has been verified, the representative will manually remove the hold from the student account.

Student Service Center
205 Kent Hall
(212) 854-4400

How can I update my email address?

Families can update their email addresses by filling out this short form. Family Engagement uses these addresses to send the Family Connection and Gradzone for Families newsletters, as well as specific announcements.