Student Living: Housing

Every effort is made to find housing for entering full-time MPA students in Columbia University–owned buildings in the Morningside Heights and Washington Heights neighborhoods around SIPA, but housing is not guaranteed. Applications must be received in a timely manner to be considered.

All incoming students are urged to apply as early as possible for housing via the online application process found at the housing Web site ( Successful SIPA applicants will receive necessary passwords in their acceptance letters. Individuals whose applications are received after the deadline will automatically be placed on the housing waitlist, as will continuing students not yet in Columbia housing, who must file the same application.

Columbia University Apartment Housing

University Apartment Housing (UAH) consists of apartments and dormitory-style suites located within walking distance of the campus. Housing is available to single students, couples, and students with dependent children. Due to space limitations, UAH cannot offer housing to accommodate friends or relatives other than dependent children and spouses/partners or provide additional space to satisfy unusual work or activity needs. Nearly 90 percent of the University housing stock is comprised of apartment shares, as described below. Very few single students obtain one bedroom or studio apartments. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin. Students with special dietary restrictions may call Dining Services (212-854-2768) regarding the availability of special meal plans.

Family members and friends are strictly prohibited from sharing these accommodations with student tenants. Pets are strictly prohibited in UAH, except for Seeing-Eye dogs and pets kept in aquaria. Violation of these policies will bring termination of the lease or student-housing contract, and the student will forfeit eligibility for University housing.

All residents are encouraged to obtain renter’s insurance to protect against loss of personal property resulting from theft, water, or fire damage. Renter’s insurance is available from many insurance companies for reasonable premiums, typically under $200 per year. Most policies also provide some personal liability coverage.

Types of Accommodations
University Apartment Housing provides Columbia University graduate students registered as full-time degree candidates at the Morningside campus with subsidized housing near the University. There are five basic categories of accommodations available to students; several are available with or without furnishings. The majority of student housing is comprised of apartment shares.

All furnished units typically include a single bed (double for couples’ housing); a desk, chair, dresser, and lamp in each bedroom; and a couch, chairs, and coffee table in the living room, as well as dining table with chairs in the kitchen or living room. A stove and refrigerator are provided in all units; laundry rooms are available to all student tenants. UAH does not provide linens, cooking utensils, dishes, cutlery, air conditioners, dishwashers, or area rugs. Students are responsible for providing rugs that cover 80 percent of the floor area, to comply with the terms of the lease. General descriptions and rate information are presented below. Please visit the UAH Web site ( cu/ire) to obtain more information.

1. Apartment Share

2011-2012 Monthly Rate Range:

Average Rent
Average Rent
$775 - $1,325
$750 - $1,250

The majority of students are housed in apartment shares. These are apartments that contain two to four bedrooms. Each student has a private bedroom and shares the common areas of the apartment (kitchen, living room, and bathroom) with the other students in the apartment. Tenants are responsible for cleaning their own rooms and the common areas. Approximately 80 percent of the three- and four-bedroom apartments are furnished, with utilities (cooking gas and electricity, not telephone) included. Two-bedroom apartments are typically unfurnished with utilities included. Apartment shares are used to house single students only, and most are not coed.

2. Dormitory-Style Accommodations, Suite Rooms
2011-2012 Monthly Rental Rate Range:

Average Rent
Single Room
$650 - $1,100
Shared Room
$550 - $1,000

These are either single private (one student per room) or shared (two students per room) accommodations off a corridor. Students share the kitchen, bathroom, and any common areas. All rooms are furnished, and all utilities (sometimes also telephone and Ethernet services) are included. Dormitory-style accommodations (suites) are used to house single students only, and most are coed.

3. Studio / Efficiency Apartments
2011-2012 Monthly Rate Range:

Average Rent
Average Rent
$1,025 - $1,750
$1,050 - $1,700

Typically, these are one-room apartments with a private bathroom. Kitchen appliances are along one wall of the room or in a separate kitchen area. Very few of these units are furnished, and charges for utilities are generally not included in the rent. Single students or couples may live in studio apartments; couples are given priority. Efficiency apartments are very limited in number, and demand exceeds availability. Students applying as couples are required to provide appropriate documentation.

4. One-Bedroom Apartments
2011-2012 Monthly Rate Range:

Average Rent
Average Rent
$1,075 - $3,000
$1,125 - $2,025

These units have a living room, kitchen facilities, a separate bedroom, and a bathroom. They vary in size, and most are unfurnished. Utilities are generally not included in the rent. Couples and students with children are given priority in assignment of one-bedroom apartments. The available supply does not permit us to satisfy the requests of single students for one-bedroom apartments. Documentation of couples or family status is required.

5. Family-Style Apartments
2011-2012 Monthly Rate Range:

Unfurnished Two Bedroom
Average Rent
Furnished Two Bedroom
Average Rent
$1,250 - $3,100
$1,875 - $2,400

Only students with dependent children may live in one of these larger, family-style apartments. These units have a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and more than one bedroom. All are unfurnished, and utilities are not included. Documentation of family composition (such as birth certificates, proof that dependent children reside with you, marriage certificates, or documentation of domestic partnership, etc.) is required.

6. International House (I-House)

Single dormitory rooms starting from $815.

UAH has made a special arrangement to lease a limited number of single rooms in International House, a private residence located at Riverside Drive and 122nd Street, which has a cross-cultural environment of particular interest to those concerned with international exchange. I-House is home to about seven hundred graduate students and interns from nearly one hundred countries (including one-third from the United States) who are pursuing studies at over fifty different institutions.

To apply for rooms in I-House, students must be twenty-one years of age or older, and they must fully complete both the UAH and I-House applications. The I-House application cannot be submitted online and must be mailed directly to the UAH Office. Note: Students are also strongly encouraged to apply directly to International House by contacting the office at 212-316-8400 or visiting the Web site at I-House may directly accept students who have not received UAH approval.

New York City Apartment-Hunting Tips
Columbia cannot house all accepted applicants in University Apartment Housing, and some SIPA students prefer to live outside the Columbia area. Therefore, here are suggestions on alternative housing resources:

Act Fast:
Finding an apartment in New York is a very competitive process. Be ready to provide references and a security deposit. Spread the word among friends that you are apartment hunting. They might know of a vacancy.

Contact the Off-Campus Housing Office:

The Off-Campus Registry, located at 400 West 119th Street (212-854-9300), assists students seeking rooms or apartments not owned or operated by the University. Listings are available via the UAH Web site: Proof of SIPA admission must be shown to enter the office. Please go to the Student Affairs Office for student verification.

Use Online Resources:

The UAH Web site link to the Off-Campus Registry ( /cu/ire/ocha) has further links to numerous other online resources. Some links students find helpful include:

The Village Voice

The New York Times

Craigs List

Street Easy

Additionally, watch for posters in the Columbia neighborhood. Keep your eye out for signs on bus stop shelters, lampposts, and local bulletin boards. People with apartments to rent and space for roommates often advertise in these places.