Room Changes

Residential Life & Housing is committed to providing residents an educational, diverse, and caring community where academic success, personal growth, and social responsibility are valued. 

Research shows that living in a community with people from different backgrounds, values, personalities, and interests is an integral part of the college experience. Our goal is for students to learn from their on-campus living experience, so it is important to understand that a room change should not the first consideration when issues arise between roommates.

Sharing a living space with others can be stressful and conflicts may arise.  We know that roommate conflict can be uncomfortable to deal with. However, there are benefits to experiencing conflict; these types of situations provide us with opportunities to strengthen our communication skills, better understand our values, and learn to compromise and negotiate -- all of these are necessary real-world skills.

Room changes are typically not available during the first 2 weeks of each semester.  This gives Residential Life & Housing time to assign students that still need assignments, process cancellations, and identify open spaces.  There are typically few vacant rooms during the academic year, so the opportunity for room changes is limited and not guaranteed.  Students are encouraged to look for other students to potentially swap rooms with through the Room Swap process on the Housing Portal.

As it is vitally important to your safety that our records accurately reflect where you reside on campus, room changes and/or swaps made without the permission of Residential Life & Housing (including switches within suites) are subject to disciplinary action and students will be required to move back to their originally assigned spaces.

As Barnard is dedicated to promoting an inclusive and respectful community, the College makes room and roommate assignments without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, religious practices, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, dietary preferences, physical abilities, and/or age.


First Year Students

The Associate Director for the Quad considered room change requests from FY students on a case-by-case basis only.  Any students with roommate concerns will first participate in a roommate discussion/mediation, during which time the roommate contract will be evaluated and adjusted as needed.  

First Year students may look for Room Swaps on the Housing Portal (but may only swap with other First Year students).

For more information, please speak to your RA or contact the Associate Director for the Quad.


Upperclass Students

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors may request a room change in the Fall (mid-September), mid-year for the Spring semester (early December), or in the Spring (late January).  

Room Swaps may be available at other times in the semester. For more information, visit

Room changes at other points in the academic year will be considered and granted only after students have demonstrated an attempt to mediate any roommate/suitemate conflicts.  

Students who wish to change rooms between the Fall & Spring semester (Mid-Year Room Change Requests) will be required to fully vacate their Fall assignment and find a place to store their belongings over Winter Break until they return for the Spring semester and are issued a key for their new room. The College does not have storage space available for student belongings.

Columbia students in residence at Barnard are guided by the room change policies and procedures of Columbia University.  Barnard students in residence at Columbia are guided by the policies and procedures of Barnard College.


Frequently Asked Questions

If I apply for a room change, will I get one?

Unfortunately, the College cannot guarantee that all students who submit a request will receive a room change.  While the College does try to prioritize requests by class year, the likelihood of receiving a room change mostly depends on the number of & location of vacancies available, the criteria of a student's request, and/or on the number & types of requests from other students.  The number of vacant rooms at any point is typically limited so room changes are usually more the result of swaps or musical chair moves between spaces. Students are encouraged to look for Room Swaps on the Housing Portal. 

What can I do to improve my chances of getting a room change?

The more flexible the criteria you specify on your Room Change Request form (indicating what types/locations of rooms you’d be willing to switch to), the more likely a room change may be possible.  However, you should only specify room types & residence halls you would be willing to live in because all granted room changes must be completed. Students can also look for Room Swaps on the Housing Portal.

If I request to move into a specific vacant room, am I guaranteed to get a room change?

While Residential Life & Housing will attemp to assign students to requested vacant room if possible, it cannot be guaranteed.  Because room change requests are considered in Class Year priority, a request by a Sophomore to move into a specific single might not not be possible if there are not enough spaces elsewhere in order to provide room changes for Senior & Junior applicants.

If I get a room change or room swap, will I have to pay more?

All rooms in Barnard campus housing are the same rate, with the exception of Studio Singles (see rates at Students who move into (or out of) a Studio Single will be charged a prorated increase (or credited a prorated refund) for the rest of the semester.
Upperclass students who move into floors 2-8 of the Quad will be required to enroll in the Quad Upperclass Meal plan (if they are not already enrolled at that level).  Students who move out of floors 2-8 of the Quad who wish to drop to a less comprehensive meal plan would need to arrange it with the Bursar office after they move to their new room.
What if there is a vacancy in my room/suite or my roommate/suitemate gets a room change?

You will more than likely be assigned a roommate/suitemate.  If you know someone specific who is interested in moving into that vacant space, you can encourage them to apply for a Room Change to request to move in with you.
Also, please note that the granting of a room change is not guaranteed, so your roommate / suitemate may not receive a room change.

If a space remains open in your room after the Room Change Request process, you must continue to keep this space open and ready for assignment at any time. Vacancies may be used later in the semester for emergency room changes.

Can you give me a list of empty rooms to pick from?

Unfortunately the College cannot provide a list of empty rooms.  There are few vacant rooms at any time.  Room changes are usually more of a game of "musical chairs," where one student receiving a room change creates a vacancy which may be assigned to another student requesting a room change, and so on.  It is impossible to predict which rooms may be available for room changes until all the requests forms have been submitted and reviewed. However, students can look for other residents who may be doing wish to Swap Rooms via the Housing Portal.
Can I request to "buy out" my double room as a single?

Due to the number of students living in housing, it is not possible to request to buy out a double room as a single.