Graduate Life

Resources and events to enhance your student experience

Resources for Parents

Convocation

The Graduate School supports its doctoral students who are parents or become parents: please review the family-friendly policies and resources listed below.

Parental Accommodation

Parental Accommodation suspends all academic requirements for a twelve-week period, thereby allowing Arts and Sciences PhD and DMA students to devote their full attention to the demands of new parenthood while retaining any GSAS funding they were scheduled to receive. The spirit of this accommodation is to relieve new parents of all academic concerns, and effectively to pause all such obligations during this time period so that the student may return to academic work still in good standing regardless of this parental accommodation.

Students in years one through seven who give birth, adopt, or become legal guardians or foster parents, as well as students whose spouse or partner gives birth, will have all responsibilities associated with their doctoral program suspended for twelve calendar weeks.

Parental Accommodation begins after the date of birth, adoption, or guardianship, but must begin no later than three months after this date. Students may be granted additional time in the event of illness or disability relating to childbirth under other GSAS policies, such as leaves of absence

New parents may also take an additional semester of accommodation, without funding, for the subsequent semester following the conclusion of the initial accommodation period. Students who elect to take an additional semester of unfunded accommodation will retain eligibility for housing, health coverage, and access to university facilities; however, they will be responsible for paying the Matriculation & Facilities tuition and health fees for the semester. Students will not be eligible to work for their departments or as research assistants during this time.

For the full policy, see the Parental Accommodation page.

Child-Care Subsidy

Parents registered in years one through seven of an Arts & Sciences doctoral program are eligible to receive one $2,000 subsidy per academic year for each child who is 1) under the age of five and 2) not yet attending kindergarten. If both parents are GSAS students, they both may apply individually for the child-care subsidy.

Students who are expecting a child or in the process of adopting a child will be eligible to apply for the child-care subsidy only after the child is born or legally adopted. The child’s birth certificate or adoption documents are required to complete the application.

If you have received the child-care subsidy in a previous academic year, you are not required to resubmit your child's birth certificate or adoption documents.

Parents may submit the Child-Care Subsidy Application form once per academic year, and are encouraged to do so by October 1. Students who are on leave or become new parents may apply by December 15, March 1, or June 1. Please note that GSAS processes applications for the child-care subsidy four times each year (at the time of each deadline), and not on a rolling basis.

Adoption Assistance Program

This benefit is available to a student who: 1) is in years one through seven of an Arts & Sciences doctoral program, 2) is fully funded, 3) has adopted a child who is under the age of 18, and 4) has finalized the adoption process within the past six months. This benefit provides a one-time reimbursement of up to $5,000 for expenses incurred on or after the parent's first day of enrollment in GSAS. There is a limit of one $5,000 reimbursement per adopted child, even if both parents are GSAS students.

The reimbursement will appear in the student's account. (No federal, state, or city taxes will be withheld, but the amount is treated by the IRS as taxable income.)

Eligible Adoption Expenses

Qualified adoption expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses directly related to, and whose principal purpose is for, the legal adoption of an eligible child. These may include:

  • Public or private adoption agency fees permitted or required under the law of the state having jurisdiction over the adoption
  • Legal and court fees
  • Fees for medical and hospital services provided to the child that are not otherwise covered by insurance
  • Traveling expenses associated with the adoption, including transportation, meals, and lodging
  • Immigration, child's immunization, and translation fees
  • Temporary foster care charges provided before placement of the eligible child in the student's home

Qualified expenses do not include:

  • Any expenses that violate state or federal law
  • The costs of carrying out any surrogate parenting arrangement
  • Costs paid using funds received from any federal, state, or local program
  • Expenses allowed as a credit or deduction under any other federal income tax rule
  • Expenses already paid or reimbursed by another party

Applying for the Adoption Assistance Reimbursement

To apply for reimbursement, students must submit an application form, paperwork that demonstrates that a legal adoption has been finalized, and acceptable documentation of eligible expenses (i.e., original itemized bills accompanied by receipts or canceled checks) to the GSAS Business Office in 109 Low Library. Students must apply for reimbursement within six months of the date an adoption becomes final, or they will not be eligible for the reimbursement.

Medical Insurance for Dependents

Students who enroll in the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan may also choose to purchase the optional insurance for eligible dependents. Funding-eligible doctoral students in the Arts and Sciences who choose to enroll their dependents in the Dependent Plan are entitled to a GSAS fellowship that covers the full cost of the 90-level Dependent Plan. The GSAS Office of Financial Aid will apply the fellowship to eligible student accounts shortly after the end of the enrollment period. Click here for details.

Office of Work/Life and Columbia Health

The university's Office of Work/Life is a helpful resource, with information about child care and schoolingbreastfeeding support, and back-up care. Columbia Health offers support groups on a variety of topics, including time management and relationships.

Student Groups

The gsasparents [at] gmail.com (GSAS Parents Group) and cufsn [at] columbia.edu (Columbia University Family Support Network (CUFSN)) both manage email lists and newsletters for students with families.