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Cornell University

Residential Policy

Two-year residential requirement beginning for students entering in fall 2021

All first- and second-year undergraduate students who are studying full-time on the Ithaca campus are required to live on campus, or in affiliated housing that has been approved to fulfill the residential requirement, through the spring semester of their second academic year of enrollment. All new transfer students are required to live on campus for one academic year. Spring transfers are required to live on campus for their incoming spring semester as well as the following academic year. All students living on campus in residence halls are required to enroll in a university meal plan.

For the first year of residency, first-year and transfer students are assigned to university residence halls. In the second year of residency, students may live in university residence halls, and are permitted to live in approved, university-affiliated housing, which may include on- and off-campus housing owned or controlled by a registered or recognized student organization and university-owned cooperative houses (co-ops). See the lists of qualified sorority and fraternity properties and qualified co-ops.

Individual Exemption Process/Policy


Students can request to be exempt from this policy for the reasons below. Supporting documentation may be required.

  • Married/Partnered - Students who are married will not be subject to the residency requirement.
  • Veteran and military status - Students who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who were discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable will not be subject to the residential requirement. This exemption will also apply to international students who served under their home country. This exemption does not apply to ROTC participants.
  • Dependents - Students who are coming to Ithaca with legal dependents will not be subject to the residential requirement.
  • Age - Students who will be 21 and older by the start of the academic year in which they are applying for an exemption will not be subject to the residential requirement.
    Students who are 16 and younger at the start of the academic year in which they are applying for an exemption and are living with a custodial parent or legal guardian for the duration of the academic year will not be subject to the residency requirement.
  • Transfer student status - Students transferring to Cornell who had two years of an on-campus residential experience at their previous institution, or who are matriculating as a junior or senior, will not be subject to the residency requirement.
  • Commuter - Students who have resided at a permanent residence with a custodial parent or legal guardian and within 25 miles of campus will not be subject to the residential requirement. Please note that Cornell believes the residential experience is of great value to new students. Students applying for an exemption under this category may be contacted by a member of Cornell’s Housing and Residential Life team to discuss their decision further.

Students may request an exemption by logging in to the Housing application when it is available for spring and fall.

Qualified Second-Year Housing (In addition to residence halls and University-owned co-ops)


University-recognized sororities and fraternities and university-owned co-ops will be allowed to house second-year students as long as the individual students apply to live in one of those properties and the organization remains recognized.

All recognized sororities and fraternities will be automatically approved if they meet all current recognition policy requirements and have a live-in advisor and four upper-level officers, by January 1 annually. Recognized sororities and fraternities will work with OSFL to navigate this automatic approval process.

  1. Must be a Registered Student Organization
  2. Require officers (student leaders) to live in the property – this number may vary based on the size of the organization.
  3. Open to moving in non-member Cornell student residents if capacity is needed
  4. Property must be in compliance with all applicable residential, building, maintenance, and fire codes and have a fire sprinkler system throughout the entire facility.
  5. Property and organization must have insurance that is on file with the institution. Commercial general liability insurance in the minimum amount of $1,000,000.00 (one million dollars) of primary liability coverage (each occurrence), with general aggregate coverage of at least $2,000,000.00 (total) must be maintained. Such liability insurance shall include Cornell University, its officers, employees and agents, as an additional named insured and shall be written with an insurance carrier acceptable to the University. A certificate of such insurance shall be forwarded to the University as evidence of such coverage, and the University must receive notice of any change, cancellation, or renewal of the policy. The insurance shall be considered primary over any and all collectable insurance that the University may have available.
  6. Property must have living-learning space and posted quiet hours.
  7. Organization must have a second-year experience curriculum or program.
  8. Any other required condition as issued by the university.

Applications must be submitted annually to the Manager of Off-Campus Living who will oversee the organizational review process. The University shall have sole discretion to determine whether an off-campus property qualifies to house second-year students, including the right to establish additional requirements that a particular off-campus house must meet to be included in the program.

  1. Name of Organization
  2. Proof of Campus Recognition of Student Organization Status
  3. Letter of Support from a Cornell recognized advisor or alumni organization
  4. Identify organization officers, including president, are juniors or seniors and live in the facility.
  5. Outline of second-year experience curriculum
  6. Proof of Insurance from the property and organization
  7. Proof of Sprinklers (Sprinkler Certification)
  8. Proof of current relevant inspections
  • For Properties within the City of Ithaca submit a current Ithaca Building Department Certificate of Compliance (COC) - If the application is accepted this property will now be required to have yearly COC inspections.
  • For properties outside the City of Ithaca submit all relevant documentation.
  • Ithaca Fire Department - Use Permit
  • November 15, 2021: Organization application deadline
  • December 1, 2021: Organization presentations
  • January 1, 2022: Annual decision deadline for all organizations
  • January 2022: Continued housing application opens to current students
  • March 2022: Room selection process
  1. Each organization should plan to have a PowerPoint presentation and present to the Off-Campus Second Year Exemption Housing Review Committee for 30 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer period for an additional 30 minutes.
  2. Organizations should plan to present on culture of the organization and how they plan to contribute positively to the second-year experience on campus.
  3. Each organization will have at least one officer from the organization and someone from the sponsoring department present.
  4. Application and all supporting documentation should be submitted in advance of the presentation.

Failure to Comply

Individual: Individuals who fail to fulfill the residential requirement or receive an exemption will still be billed for the full year.

Organization: If at any time, based off information received by the university, the organization fails to maintain the expectations for organizations the second-year students residing at the property may be required to move back on campus.

Property: If at any time, based off the information received by the university, the property fails to maintain the expectations for the property (for example not submitting renewed documentation for expired certifications) the second-year students residing at the property may be required to move back on campus.