Frequently Asked Questions-Housing Services — Room Selection - Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that you couldn't find an answer to on this site? Send it to us at and someone will respond to your question within two business days.  Any topics that we receive multiple inquiries about will be added to this page, so check back often!

Q. Can I pull-in (as a roommate) a friend who is currently living off-campus or in Greek housing?

No — only residents who are currently residing in university housing and are eligible to participate in Room Selection (and have not already confirmed an assignment) can be pulled-in. Residents who are currently off-campus or in Greek housing are not eligible for Room Selection, and should complete a housing waitlist application. These students will not be able to receive an assignment during Room Selection.  You can review eligibility information here.

Q. I retained/selected a prime room which shares a bathroom with another prime double room. Can I pull-in/select roommates for that adjoining room? 

A. In most cases, no. Residence hall rooms are viewed as separate, independent rooms, even if they have a semi-private bathroom. Residents are only permitted to fill the individual room that they have retained or selected. For example, if you retain a prime double room in Henderson House, you can only select one roommate to live in that double room with you. The adjoining double room will be filled during a later phase of Room Selection.

Exceptions exist for Resnik and West Wing suites, Roselawn Houses, and multi-room apartments in Woodlawn, Margaret Morrison, Shady Oak, Webster, and Fairfax apartments.  In these instances, retaining or selecting residents are permitted to select the roommates for the entire suite or apartment, and are — in fact — strongly encouraged to do so.  

Q. I would like to retain my current assignment but then try for a better assignment during General Room Selection. Can I do this?

A. No. Residents need to decide whether or not they would like to retain their room during the Retain Your Room phase which runs from March 3 through noon on March 18, 2014. Once you've retained your room, your 2014–2015 academic year assignment is confirmed and finalized, and you will no longer be eligible to come to General Room Selection to try for a different space.

Q. What are my chances of getting a single room?

A. Single rooms are extremely popular and are thus hard to come by. Single rooms are frequently retained and tend to fill up quickly during General Room Selection. During Room Selection 2012 this past spring, most — if not all — single rooms that weren't retained were filled during the first few selection groups on the first day of General Room Selection (rising seniors.)

Q.  I am planning on studying abroad for the Fall 2014 semester. What should I do for Room Selection?

A. If you know for sure that you will be studying abroad during the Fall 2014 semester, you should not participate in Room Selection. Instead, complete the "Spring 2015 Only" application through the Housing Portal before you leave campus at the end of the spring semester.  Be sure to select "Return from Study Abroad" as your reason for application.  You will be guaranteed a housing assignment when you return in the spring as long as you lived in campus housing for the semester immediately preceding and following your semester abroad. 

If you're not sure whether or not you've been accepted into a study abroad program, then you are welcome to participate in Room Selection to secure a room for the fall semester as a back-up plan. However, you will be held to the cancellation deadlines just as any other resident would, and depending on when you cancel, may be responsible for paying the $400 housing reservation fee that will be charged to your Fall 2014 student account. If you find out about your study abroad acceptance after the open cancellation period is over, please be sure to e-mail to coordinate your housing cancellation so that you are not responsible for the full cost of your housing assignment. You will still be responsible for paying the $400 housing reservation fee on your fall bill.

Q.  I may be transferring to a different university for the Fall 2014 semester, but I'm not sure. Should I still participate in Room Selection?

Eligible students who think they might be transferring to a different institution are welcome to still participate in Room Selection to select a room for the 2014–2015 academic year, but will be bound to the cancellation deadline of April 18, 2014 if they wish to receive a full refund including the $400 housing reservation fee.  Keep in mind that most universities do not send out transfer student admission offers until mid-summer. Thus, if you wait until then to cancel your housing assignment you will still be responsible for paying the $400 reservation fee on your student account. Failure to pay this fee may result in significant late fees and penalties, as well as the possibility of being sent to a collection agency. 

So, while we understand that you may need to sign up for university housing as a back-up plan, please understand that the $400 housing reservation fee will be your cost to do so unless you are able to cancel before April 18th.

Q.  What if I hear something about Room Selection from a friend but I can't find it on this website?

A. Students who have participate in Room Selection in the past can often serve as a source of information - and misinformation - to students going through the process for the first time.  Remember that the Room Selection process changes every year, and that just because something was one way last year does not mean that it is the same this year.  Likewise, Although the Tartan can be a valuable source of information, there are instances where incorrect information has been published.

This Room and Meal Plan Selection website is the official source of all information regarding Room and Meal Plan Selection, and residents should check this site to verify anything that they've read in the Tartan or heard from friends. Other sources of official information from Housing Services includes e-mails from the and e-mail accounts.

If you can't find it on this website, it's probably not true.

But if you want to double check, or if you have a particularly unique situation, please send us an e-mail at and we will clarify for you.

Q. I'm not interested in retaining my current room, but I heard that there was something called "Building Retention" where I could select a different room in my building. Can I participate?

A. Building Retention was a phase of Room Selection in past years, but is no longer an option. Residents who are eligible to retain their current rooms can either retain OR participate in General Room Selection to try for a different room. To view all of the phases of Room Selection, check out the Room Selection Options page.

Q. I'm a first-year student and I'm afraid of getting an Open Assignment. What is that exactly?

We start giving out Open Assignments when all of the other spaces reserved for upper-class students fill during General Room Selection, although some students may opt to sign up for one in advance. If you receive an Open Assignment you are still guaranteed housing but won't find out your specific assignment until after other students start canceling. We collect your preferences and make assignments in the order of your class standing and room selection. 

Students can also choose to select an Open Assignment. This is a particularly good option if you are selecting as an individual (no specific roommate in mind) and want to get into a half-filled double room in a particular building. Although we cannot guarantee an assignment in a particular building, since we generally have cancellations in all of our buildings, there is a good chance that we'll be able to assign to one of your top building preferences, especially if you have a good Room Selection number. Students who opt into an Open Assignment are permitted to rank a single room as their top building preference but should be aware that getting a single room is unlikely.

Read more about the Open Assignments process.

Q. I am a first-year student living in Margaret Morrison (or any other upper-class building). Can I retain my room?

A.  No. First-year students are not permitted to retain their current assignment, even if they are currently residing in a traditionally upper-class building that is otherwise retainable. This policy was enacted years ago following conversations with students, residents, and Student Life personnel in an attempt to create an even playing field for all first-year students.