For First-Year Families
Welcome to the Cornell Family! We are thrilled to welcome you to the Cornell community and look forward to getting to know you over the next few years. We recognize the role families play as an integral and important role in a student’s college life and our office is committed to ensuring you feel supported while your student is at Cornell.
We recognize that as your student makes the transition to Cornell, this is also a time of transition within your own family. To help support you in this process, we have compiled this information that we believe will be helpful. Please contact the Parent and Family Programs office if you still have unanswered questions after reviewing the materials on these pages.
Tips for Families of Incoming Students
Whether this is your first or last student to college, it is a transition for not only your student but for the whole family. Check out our Tips for Families of First Year Families as you help your student get ready to attend Cornell.
As your student’s time at Cornell approaches, families will receive communication and information from the Parent & Family Programs office while they are enrolled. Our Becoming Big Red: Cornell First-Year Families Newsletter and Conversation series provide valuable information for our families as they help their student prepare to attend Cornell. Students can confirm their family’s contact information on their To Do List or sign up via the Parent/Guardian Contract Form.
We encourage you to also use the additional links and information on the Resources for Supporting your Student page to find additional information.
Home Away From Home
All students are required to live on campus through the spring semester of their second academic year of enrollment. As a first-year student, they will be living with more than 3,000 new Cornellians living in the residence halls and Program Houses on North Campus. Students are provided with standard amenities, but some do vary by residence hall.
Students are expected to provide their own linens and are responsible for cleaning their own room and taking out their trash. Students do have access to laundry facilities in each of the halls.
What to Pack
As your student is preparing attend Cornell, it is important to refer to the What to Pack and What not to Bring list.
Incoming first-year students, sophomores, and transfer students living in on-campus housing are required to have a meal plan and will be automatically enrolled in the Unlimited meal plan. First-year students are required to participate in the Unlimited meal plan for the full academic year.
Travel Around Campus
First-year students receive an automatic, no-fee OmniRide bus pass, which grants unlimited access to all TCAT buses in Tompkins County. This program is offered as an introduction to the local public transit service, and an inducement to leave the vehicle home.
We strongly discourage new students from bringing their cars. Traffic and parking are restricted on campus; mosts students walk or use public transit. If your student does plan to bring a car, they must register it with Transportation Services and pay a parking fee.
Traveling to Cornell
Mail and Packages
Students can have mail and packages delivered to them on campus. Mailing addresses are dependent on a student’s residence hall. Students will receive an email when they have mail or a package and will be picked up at a designated service center near their hall.
Student Health Insurance
Students must maintain health insurance coverage that meets Cornell’s requirements while they are enrolled. The Student Health Plan is available to all students. Students will be automatically enrolled unless coverage is waived each year.
Paying the Bill
The Office of the Bursar oversees the activities involved in billing and collecting tuition, fees, and other charges incurred by students, as well as student loans. Tuition expenses are billed in early August (fall semester) and early December (spring semester). Learn about payment options.
Cornell University provides a wide range of financing options to make education affordable, including the Cornell Installment Plan. Your student can grant you other user access to their Cashnet account to see statements including tuition, fees, housing, meal plan, academic materials and CornellCard charges and to make payments.
Students who applied for financial aid will receive communication directly from the Office of Financial Aid. Learn more about financial aid for newly admitted students and financial aid for current students.
Tatkon Center for New Students
The Tatkon Center for New Students is a resource center to support all new students during their transition to Cornell University and through their first year. The transition to university life takes time. The staff is dedicated to creating an informative and engaging orientation, followed by programs and services throughout students’ first year. The Tatkon Center, located on the first floor of the Robert Purcell Community Center, is staffed by Tatkon Peer Leaders (or TPLs) who are upper-level students trained and ready to support students in guiding and navigating University resources.