Carnegie Mellon University

All first-year students with a completed housing application and upper-class students with existing housing assignments are expected to read this FAQ site in its entirety.

After doing so, please login to the Housing portal to either:

  • Option 1: Cancel your existing housing license agreement or your first-year housing application because you have decided you are not interested in campus housing for the upcoming academic year
  • Option 2: Provide your semester preference for 2020-21 campus housing.

The deadline for submitting this form through the Housing portal is Monday, July 13. Any student who does not do so will not be prioritized for housing in the 2020-2021 academic year.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding Housing Services at CMU during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you can't find the information you are looking for here, please email us.


2020-21 Housing Availability

As recently announced by Provost Garrett and Dean Casalegno, we are committed to delivering a quality residential experience that prioritizes your health and safety as we work to mitigate coronavirus spread in our housing facilities and on campus. We know that residential living will look quite different in the year ahead, which will take a shared commitment from all students and staff to ensure we can maintain open facilities to support in-person education. In particular, after careful study, we are de-densifying all of our facilities which, with the addition of some off-campus hotel rooms, will allow us to maintain 50 percent of our usual occupancy for the coming year.

We are de-densifying all of our facilities so that we will have no more than one student per bedroom; and no more than three students per bathroom in semi-suites, suites and apartments, or bathroom fixture set (shower/toilet/sink) in traditional residence halls and Greek chapter houses. This means that all residents in campus housing for the Fall semester will have a single/private bedroom.

We are committed to offering you an opportunity to live on campus for one semester in the year ahead to provide an equitable approach to assigning our limited capacity. All first-year students, and all upper-class students with existing housing assignments, will be provided on-campus housing for only one of the upcoming two semesters, and only a very small number with special circumstances will be provided housing for both semesters. We know this is a disappointment for some students and families. We look forward to the day when we can offer our fulsome residential housing experience to all students. The extraordinary times of living through a pandemic call for our heightened and sincere commitment to your health and well-being, which we believe this approach promotes.

By July 13, students are expected to visit the Housing portal to declare which semester you prefer to live in campus housing, or alternatively to cancel your housing for the upcoming academic year. Once we have this information, we will assess the demand for Fall semester housing and, if necessary, use a random process to determine assignments by semester, which will be confirmed by July 20. For those students selected for Fall semester housing, specific room assignments will be communicated by July 31.

It is very important that you read everything on this FAQ webpage before you make your decision that you prefer to live in campus housing for one semester. However, below are a few items of critical importance that will be further described in this FAQ.

  • If you are an upper-class student who is selected to receive Fall semester housing, it is possible that you will be reassigned to a different room, room type, and building than you originally chose during Room Selection, and it is possible that you will be assigned to a hotel room.
  • You will be required to maintain a meal plan if you are an upper-class student assigned to suite, semi-suite, traditional or Greek housing, or if you are a first-year student living in any building. This meal plan will not be optional for upper-class students in non-apartments, including those who may have their existing assignment changed from an apartment to a non-apartment room type. More information about the required meal plans is available in the Dining section below.
  • A 14-day self-quarantine period will be enforced for all residential students upon arrival. During this time, students may not attend in-person gatherings or classes. First-year students will self-quarantine with their Orientation group following strict stipulations for physical distancing.
  • All residential students will be required to take at least one viral PCR test for COVID-19 during your quarantine period. As our testing strategy evolves, we may require students to test more frequently than during your initial 14 days. This is being required to prevent spread of the virus, especially among asymptomatic individuals.
  • Isolation housing will be required for any student who becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19, as well as any residential students who were in close contact with such a student during the previous 14 days. Isolation housing will be required until a student is cleared by University Health Services, a time period that generally will be up to 14 days or longer depending on symptoms. Isolation housing provides a private bedroom/bathroom living space which a student must remain in at all times during the isolation period, meaning all engagement with university coursework will be done via remote learning. Meals will be delivered to the living space, and regular virtual support check-ins will be provided by University Health Services and Student Affairs staff.
  • You will be expected to follow all of the community health mitigation strategies put in place by the university (including those outlined later in this FAQ).
  • Only students who do not travel during Thanksgiving break will be permitted to continue living in on-campus housing after the break and through finals.

Please see the section below titled “Fall 2020 Room Assignments” for information related to that process. Specific room assignments will be communicated by July 31.

Students and families who are able to elect remote study are strongly encouraged to do so. For those who may be interested in exploring off-campus housing in Pittsburgh, the university will provide resources to assist you in your search. Those materials will be made available when semester assignments are communicated (by July 20). Additionally, the CMU Off-Campus Housing website is available now (account creation required).

Yes. Students and families who are able to elect remote study are strongly encouraged to do so. This will allow assignments for those who are truly in need of on-campus housing. To facilitate this, we are waiving the usual cancellation fee for housing assignments at this time, and also waiving the campus residency requirement for first-year students who enroll at Carnegie Mellon for the 2020-21 academic year.

Learn more about cancelling your housing assignment after submitting a fall or spring semester preference.

The fall semester course schedule that students are encouraged to view on SIO beginning on July 20 is preliminary and subject to change as conditions of the pandemic continue to evolve. In order to finalize and communicate room assignments for those being offered fall housing by the end of July, we must ask students to submit their semester preference by Monday, July 13.
Housing’s goal is a flexible stance regarding cancellations to reduce barriers for students and families in light of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.

For students who are offered housing for the fall semester, we will continue to allow cancellations (without a cancellation fee) through at least August 7, and we will continue to evaluate the situation between then and the assigned residential move-in date.

Fall housing cancellations after move-in will generally not be permitted unless (1) you take a leave of absence or (2) changing factors related to the pandemic necessitate we restrict housing capacity further to support student health and safety.

For students who are offered housing for the spring semester, we will accept penalty-free cancellations until late fall when we will know more about the plans for spring semester.

Fall and Spring semester housing cancellation dates will be shared by the end of July.

Fraternity and sorority houses will need to be de-densified in a manner consistent with all university housing. Housing Services and SLICE are committed to working with individual chapters and the governing bodies to do so in a manner that does not create financial or other hardships for either individual members or the organizations. In summary, our plan involves revoking this year’s lease to alleviate any pressure for a chapter to maintain occupancy and instead issue Housing License Agreements (at the traditional double rate) to the limited number of members who will be living in the facility. More details about this arrangement will be communicated to the Greek community by July 10.

That said, Greek housing residents who are planning on participating in remote learning can and should cancel their housing via the Housing portal. Also, although the assignment process for Greek housing residents may be different than for the general housing population, Greek residents who want to live on campus for a single semester this academic year can and should indicate a preference for either Fall or Spring housing through the Housing portal.

We recognize international students who do not yet have a valid visa are likely to have difficulty entering the U.S. for study by the Fall semester given consular closures, travel bans, and limited flight availability. The Office of International Education is working closely with all international students and partnering with Housing Services so we can optimize the possibility of securing housing for at least one semester for our international students. For questions, please consult with your OIE advisor.
No. All waitlist requests are unfortunately canceled due to the limited housing inventory for the Fall.

Fall 2020 Room Assignments

Specific details will be provided with the semester notification that will be provided by July 20. In general, students selected for a Fall assignment will be given a random order that will be utilized as follows:

  • Upper-class students: Room assignments will be made by first prioritizing a student’s original assignment, followed by a room within their original building, then by a room within their original building type (apartment, suite or semi-suite), followed by whatever inventory remains in other building types.
  • First-year students: Room assignments will be made using the ranked housing preferences that were submitted with the housing application. Consistent with our regular process of assigning first-year students, if all spaces within a student's ranked preferences are filled at the time of their assignment, Housing Services will then assign to any available space within the campus housing system using the available preference information submitted by the student.

Specific room assignments will be communicated by July 31

By July 31, we will communicate fall room assignments, the process for move-in, staggered arrival dates to assure physical distancing, cancellation information and how quarantine will be accommodated in the residence halls. We strongly advise students living in campus housing this fall to defer making travel arrangements until that information is received. Thank you for your patience as we finalize these details.

In general, the traditional residence halls that have historically been allocated for first-year students will remain so, at a greatly-reduced density given the common bathrooms. Some first-year students may additionally be living in historically upper-class buildings.

Yes. Our ability to offer campus housing at 50 percent occupancy is predicated on our ability to provide isolation housing for positive/symptomatic students and their close contacts. We have worked with public health experts and our expert faculty to determine how much isolation housing we may need to effectively mitigate the spread of the virus on campus. As a result of this analysis, we will be taking Morewood Gardens (not including E-Tower), Resnik, Boss, McGill and Mudge offline to provide isolation housing. Upper-class students who had assignments in these buildings can expect to be reassigned to alternate housing.

Yes. The university is exploring the possibility of acquiring a limited number of hotel rooms to ensure that we can maintain enough occupancy to provide one semester of housing to all residential students. While the locations and number of hotel rooms are still being confirmed, we are ensuring that they are close enough to campus that they can be easily accessed via the university’s transportation system. All of the rooms would be single-occupancy, and the traditional double room rate will apply. Residential Education staff will live on-site in a manner equivalent to campus housing. More specific details will be provided when housing assignments are made available.
No, the university is not accepting roommate requests, in keeping with our commitment to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for the safety of our entire campus community.

Yes, Housing Services will make every reasonable effort to maintain those approved accommodations.


Financial Considerations

Yes. Students living in suite, semi-suite, traditional, Greek and hotel housing will be charged the lowest common room rate, which is the traditional double rate of $4,605 per semester. Students living in an apartment will be charged the studio apartment double rate of $5,362 per semester, which is the lowest apartment rate in our system.
It is our plan to maintain continuity of services throughout the semester. If conditions change, we will communicate with the relevant students and families about any changes to our operations, including financial considerations.
Students who choose to travel home or elsewhere for Thanksgiving will not receive a pro-rated refund for their housing charges for the remainder of the semester. Our housing operation is being maintained at a significantly lower occupancy level than normal, and the semester room rates that are being applied have already been reduced below what students would normally pay to live in a single bedroom living space. In so doing, we face significant budgetary constraints in connection with our ability to provide on-campus housing this Fall, and we cannot extend beyond those constraints in order to accommodate students who voluntarily elect to move out of housing at Thanksgiving.

Dining Plan Requirement

You will be required to maintain a meal plan if you are an upper-class student assigned to suite, semi-suite, traditional or Greek housing, or if you are a first-year student living in any building. This meal plan will not be optional for upper-class students in non-apartments, including those few students who may have their existing assignment changed from an apartment to a non-apartment room type.
Given that common area kitchens will be closed throughout university and Greek housing to prevent spread of the virus, all upper-class students living on-campus will be required to maintain a limited meal plan (unless they live in an apartment with its own kitchen).

The available dining plans and associated costs may be found on the Dining Services website. First-year students may select from the Traditional Plans as indicated on the site. Upper-class students may select from any plan that is the value of the “Scotty’s Choice” community plan (which will serve as the default plan if no selection is made) or higher.

More information will be provided by Dining Services to relevant students after housing assignments have been made.


Health and Safety Expectations and Mitigation

Using the best available science- and research-based evidence, we are finalizing our protocols for mitigation strategies. At present:

  • A 14-day self-quarantine period will be enforced for all residential students upon arrival. During this time, students may not attend in-person gatherings or classes. First-year students will self-quarantine with their Orientation group following strict stipulations for physical distancing; details regarding how this will be operationalized will be shared in early August, including how the quarantine period will interface with the start of classes.
  • All residential students will be required to take at least one viral PCR test for COVID-19 during your quarantine period. As our testing strategy evolves, we may require students to test more frequently than during your initial 14 days. This is being required to prevent spread of the virus, especially among asymptomatic individuals.
  • Isolation housing will be required for any student who becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19, as well as any residential students who were in close contact with such a student during the previous 14 days. Isolation housing will be required until a student is cleared by University Health Services, a time period that generally will be up to 14 days and could be longer depending on symptoms. Isolation housing provides a private bedroom/bathroom living space which a student must remain in at all times during the isolation period, meaning all engagement with university coursework will be done via remote learning. Meals will be delivered to the living space, and regular virtual support check-ins will be provided by University Health Services and Student Affairs staff.

Details regarding these protocols are still being finalized and will be communicated prior to arrival.

It is of key importance you reflect on these mitigation strategies and protocols while you consider whether or not you want to live in university housing this year.

The move-in process will occur over multiple days with all residential students pre-selecting timeslots to ensure appropriate physical distancing during that process. More specific information will be provided shortly after Fall room assignments have been confirmed and communicated.

No more than two family members or “helpers” may accompany a student moving in, and no student staff or volunteers will be available to assist with the moving of belongings (to reduce community spread).

Belongings to be moved in should be limited in size and number so as to facilitate efficient move-out mid-semester if necessitated by changing conditions. Please only bring essential belongings that you can easily take with you at move-out.

Residential students will be required to complete daily symptom tracking, be evaluated if symptomatic, and participate in contact tracing and surveillance as required by the university.

Residential students will be required to have the influenza vaccine (once available).

Face coverings must be worn at all times outside private rooms in the residence halls. Residents will be encouraged to limit entering personal spaces of other residents and expected to engage in the recommended practices of self-hygiene and physical distancing in all residential spaces.

All common-area kitchens will be closed.  Some amenity spaces (e.g. makerspaces, fitness rooms, computer labs, recreation rooms) will be closed; we are in consultation with experts to determine which spaces can be safely maintained and which will need to be closed. Furniture in common spaces will be reduced and arranged to support physical distancing.

In general, gatherings (including RA programs) in social spaces will be limited and otherwise moved to remote delivery. The university has empanelled a working group that includes representation from Residential Education and Housing Services to propose guidelines and expectations for student gatherings and programs campus-wide, and our ultimate strategy will comport with these guidelines.

With the exception of the move-in and move-out processes, guests and visitors will not be permitted in housing facilities (including private rooms and community spaces such as lounges) as a means to mitigate community spread. Guests are defined as any persons not assigned to your same house community. This means that parents, family, and friends – including other Carnegie Mellon students and residents outside of your assigned building – will not be permitted as guests during the fall semester.
As a community health measure, the university will be moving to all-remote learning following the Thanksgiving break. Only students who do not travel during Thanksgiving break will be permitted to continue living in on-campus housing after the break, through finals and/or during winter break.

In keeping with the university strategy regarding one semester of housing, all Fall semester students should expect to move out of their housing assignment at the end of the semester. Students who need to remain on-campus during some portion of winter break will be relocated in order to facilitate cleaning of all rooms prior to Spring semester move-in for new residents. Details will be provided midway through the Fall semester.

Storage Items from Spring 2020

Students who had their belongings stored by the university will be notified in early August regarding the procedures to retrieve them.
The university will continue to safely store your belongings until your eventual return.