Columbia’s campus is accessible by public transportation as well as yellow taxi and car service. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) serves the New York Metro area by subway, bus, rail and bridges and tunnels and has a nice How to Ride the Subway guide. Metro cards are used to travel public transportation, including the subway and bus systems which connect to both LaGuardia (M60 Bus) and JFK (Airtrain to subway) airports. Newark is connected by rail on New Jersey Transit or Amtrak to Penn Station where public transit (#1 Uptown train) can be taken to campus. Comprehensive directions provided by Columbia admissions will help you plan your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a list of frequently asked questions from across the offices supporting Columbia College and Columbia Engineering collected here in one place for your convenience. You can browse by topic/department or search by keyword.
International Student Programs and Services, Parents & Families of International Students
We recommend you secure reservations off-campus. For a list of hotels that give a Columbia rate, please visit the Travel Portal and click on hotels on the left menu. Budget friendly options near campus include:
- Landmark Guest Rooms at the Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway (and 121st); Phone: 1 (212) 280-1313
- Teachers College Guest Housing at 517 West 121st Stree; Phone: 1 (212) 678-3235
- International House Guest Accommodations at 500 Riverside Drive (and 122nd) Phone 1 (212) 316-8436
- Hostel International New York at 891 Amsterdam Ave. (and 104th); Phone 1 (212) 932-2300
Many families travel to campus during the move-in period and families traveling long distances often plan a vacation or stay a few days to enjoy New York City. We encourage the visit to occur prior to move-in or after students are settled in order to assist incoming students with their transition. Throughout move-in and orientation (NSOP) it is critical for incoming students to connect with their neighbors and focus on settling into their new community. Additionally, students should be familiar with the Guest Policy. Families traveling for commencement will receive additional information and can browse the GradZone website.
No. A support letter is not required by the U.S. Consulates for visitor visa applications. As a visitor to the United States, it is important for you to be aware of visa requirements. Citizens of certain countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program may come to the United States without a visa if certain conditions are met. Other visitors will need a nonimmigrant visa. We encourage you to visit the U.S. Department of State website to learn about your specific travel requirements. Columbia University will extend an invitation to events like commencement, and as a courtesy will offer a letter of support to assist with your visa application upon request.
While most U.S. banks require that your son or daughter open an account once in the United States, some international banks may allow an application to be started beforehand. Check with your local bank to see if this is possible or for recommended services. Once here, students may open a bank account. The International Student and Scholars Office (ISSO) has compiled a list of banks in the Columbia neighborhood.
While Columbia is unable to offer summer storage, there are several vendors in the area that students may use for a fee. Columbia has no affiliation with these companies, however more information can be found at Hudson and Manhattan Mini Storage. For other ideas on disposing of personal items, please read the Green Check Out tips.
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), when a student enters university in the United States at any age, all rights and responsibilities to privacy of educational records are transferred to the student. Educational records can include grades, financial aid records, disciplinary records, student account information, Dean’s Office files and residential program files. Learn more about FERPA here.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of student information in health and medical records, including electronic files. Learn more about HIPPA here.
While the type of information protected by FERPA and HIPAA will not be automatically disclosed, the University has protocols in place to contact families in the event of a medical emergency or when the student requests information be released. Importantly, Undergraduate Student Life is here to engage with students and families in an open dialogue during their time at Columbia. We encourage students and their families to ask questions, attend events and information sessions while on campus or contact us for additional information.
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