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.

The Accommodation for Parental Responsibilities provides a twelve-week period of accommodation to Arts & Sciences PhD and DMA students who become parents. 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, can have responsibilities associated with their doctoral program suspended for twelve calendar weeks. During that time, students will retain any GSAS funding they were scheduled to receive. Parental accommodation typically begins after the date of birth, adoption, or guardianship, but must begin no later than six months after this date.

Accommodation for Parental Responsibilities

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 Accommodation for Parental Responsibilities 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.

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.

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.) For a student to qualify for this benefit, the adopted child may not be the child of the student's spouse or same-sex domestic partner.

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
  • Expenses for the adoption of your spouse's or same-sex domestic partner's child
  • 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. Doctoral students in the Arts & Sciences who are fully funded or on appointments beyond their funded years, and who choose to enroll their dependents in the Dependent Plan, are entitled to a GSAS fellowship that covers half the cost of the Gold-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.