Frequently Asked Questions

Please reach out to us if your question is not answered below, or if you have other concerns. We would be happy to speak with you.

If you have any questions about Cornell's plans for instruction given the current pandemic, please refer to the Cornell Coronavirus website. We also have information specific to our operations during this time. 

Applying to Cornell

Is there a separate admission process for students with disabilities?

No. The admissions process and criteria are the same for all students applying to Cornell. Disability status is not a consideration in the admissions process.  

For specific questions about admissions, contact the Cornell school or college you are interested in.
  

Should I send my disability documentation with my admissions application?

No. Documentation should be submitted to SDS only after you have been admitted to Cornell and have decided to attend.
  

Before I apply to Cornell, can I meet with someone in SDS to discuss my situation?

Yes. We are happy to meet with you to answer general questions about disability services and accommodations here at Cornell. Contact us to schedule a time to meet with someone. We are happy to meet with you in person, by phone, or by Zoom or Skype.
   

Where can I find additional resources on the transition to college?

We recommend the following resources: 

Registering with Student Disability Services

What is the process for registering with Student Disability Services (SDS)?

Review our Get Started page to learn about the process of requesting disability services and/or accommodations.
   

I am not sure if I have a disability. What do I do?

You can complete our Self-Disclosure Form and indicate that you want someone to follow up with you. You only need to complete the sections of that form that you feel comfortable filling out.  

If you do not feel comfortable completing that form first, we would still be happy to speak with you about your situation and can help refer you to some resources to learn more. You can contact our office to schedule a time to meet with someone.
  

How do I transfer my accommodations from high school to here?

We will work with you to determine appropriate accommodations for our college environment and your courses. Your high school accommodation plan (IEP, 504, etc.) does not automatically transfer. Please follow the steps to register with our office so that we can begin working with you to develop an accommodation plan for your time here at Cornell.
  

Are there deadlines to register with SDS?

We recognize that a person can develop or become aware of a disability at any time. For that reason, we do not have formal deadlines. However, the sooner we hear from you, the sooner we may be able to assist you with your needs.  

Below are the suggested timelines for non-housing requests:

  • Summer Semester 
    • May 31 
  • Fall Semester 
    • Submit by June 15th to allow us adequate time to review your request 
  • Winter Semester 
    • December 15th, or as soon as possible to allow enough time to arrange accommodations 
  • Spring Semester 
    • December 15th 

Reference our housing page for deadlines for requests involving housing. 
    

Can my parent fill out the disability self-disclosure form?

No, it should be completed by you, the student. You can have a parent help if assistance is needed. We will be communicating with you regarding your request and it is important that we receive the self-disclosure form in your own words. 
  

What happens after I submit information?

You will be assigned a point person in our office, called an “SDS Counselor,” who will review the information you submitted. They will contact you to schedule a time to meet to discuss your access needs.
  

What services will I be eligible for?

We provide appropriate accommodations for participation in Cornell programs and courses. Appropriate reasonable accommodations are determined on an individual basis and are based on your unique situation. Everyone is different and we look forward to getting to know you. 

Your accommodation plan at Cornell will be unique to your time here and may be different than what you had received before. 

When you meet with your SDS Counselor, they will be able to discuss an accommodation plan with you and what services or accommodations may be appropriate.
   

I have a disability or medical condition, but am not seeking services. Should I still register?

Cornell is committed to creating a campus community that is inclusive of all aspects of diversity and identity, including disability identity. We encourage all students with disabilities to self-disclose their disability status to our office. There is a place on our Self-Disclosure Form to indicate that you are not currently requesting services or accommodations.
   

I am already registered. How do I get my accommodations? Do I need to re-register every semester?

At the beginning of each new semester you must request your accommodation letters in order to receive your academic accommodations. Filling out a new self-disclosure form is not required, nor are you required to meet with your counselor each semester.  

If you are seeking new and/or different accommodations, you will need to arrange a meeting with your counselor.
   

Services and Accommodations

What is available?

Our office works with students to provide them with equitable access to Cornell's programs and services. This includes (but is not limited to) academics, housing, and dining

There are not certain services or accommodations that are automatically granted. After you submit information to our office, we will meet with you to discuss your individual situation and what an appropriate accommodation plan may be. There are many factors that go into this, including the types of courses you are taking and the impact of your condition or disability. 
   

Are services through SDS free?

SDS does not charge for accommodations. However, you are responsible for aids or assistance of a personal nature such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, computers to be used at home, or attendants for services of a personal nature (including assistance with bathing, dressing, or life coaching). 
   

Does SDS provide tutoring?

There is not tutoring available through SDS, however there are a number of tutoring resources available at Cornell. 

What resources do you have to help me with study skills? Do you have life skills or academic coaching?

There is not formal coaching of this nature at Cornell. However, your SDS Counselor can assist you with identifying resources in the community. 

The Learning Strategies Center has workshops and select services on study skills and time management.
   

Can you test me for a learning disability or ADHD?

We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your situation and provide some guidance. We do not provide testing in our office, but can discuss the testing process and provide you with information on how and where you could go to be tested.  
   

What services are available for housing?

We can work with you to identify housing options to address your disability-specific needs. Examples of disability-related housing accommodations: 

  • A wheelchair-accessible room 
  • A ground floor room, or a room near an elevator 
  • Access to a low-use, shared bathroom 
  • Strobe or vibrating alarms in the room 
  • Air filtration and/or air conditioning in the room 
  • A room in a quieter hallway 

More information about Housing Accommodations
   

What transportation services are available?

Our office can help you with your disability-related transportation needs. Transportation accommodations may include: 

  • a free bus pass 
  • the approval to purchase an accessible parking permit for campus  
  • the use of CULift (the Cornell paratransit service that provides pre-scheduled rides on and near campus). 

Confidentiality

Who will know about my disability if I register with SDS?

The accommodation process may require that we disclose your accommodation needs (though, not your disability) to certain faculty or staff members who are helping to implement your accommodations. This is only done when needed. We recognize your right to determine who receives this information and your right to confidentiality. Your disability-related records are not stored in any central student database at the university, only within our office. 
  

Do I need to tell my professor about my disability or diagnosis?

You are not obligated to disclose what your disability is to your instructor or other course staff. If you receive academic accommodations, you can share an official accommodation letter from us with your instructors. The letter will detail your accommodations, but will not state what your disability is. 
   

Will my disability or accommodations appear on my transcript?

Your disability-status or registration-status with our office will never appear on your university transcript or any other official document from the registrar’s office. Neither will your accommodations. 

Housing

The Housing Website has information about what is provided in rooms, and other building features. Please refer to it for answers to many questions about room and residence halls. 
    

Do I need to submit updated documentation to get housing accommodations each year?

Maybe. Your SDS counselor will discuss that with you. If you have questions, please reach out to them. 
   

Do I participate in the Continued Occupancy process prior to requesting housing accommodations (again)?

If you live in a program house or in upperclass housing (West Campus, Collegetown), your SDS Counselor will contact you to let you know if you should participate in the Continued Occupancy process to continue to remain in housing that meets your need. Contact your SDS Counselor with any questions. 

If you have a new need for housing accommodations, and the housing you are in currently does not meet your need, please let us know. 
   

What if the housing contract I am provided does not meet my need? Do I have to accept that?

You can accept it and work with our office to explore getting the room changed or modified to something that meets your needs. You must secure housing on campus (i.e. have a contract) for us to be able to arrange disability accommodations. You are still required to go through the Housing Office to secure a room (e.g., sign a contract), in order for us to be able to assist you in changing or modifying your room to meet your needs.
  

Will I still be able to block with my friends if I am getting a housing accommodation?

We try to the best of our ability to arrange a room that will meet your needs and also your housing preferences. You may be able to live with specific roommate(s). We can discuss that with you meet with us. 

Due to the manner in which rooms are assigned, we cannot arrange rooms for other students when arranging a room for you (e.g., with blocking). If you have concerns or questions, please talk to your SDS Counselor about this.
  

If I get approved for a room change by SDS, will I be able to bring my roommate or suitemates with me?

No, the accommodation provided by a room change is for you only. 
  

Can I be provided a single room?

Single rooms are approved as an accommodation if you have a disability that would prevent you from living with another person. 

We will review the information that you provide to us to learn more about how your condition limits you and how it may affect your housing needs. A single room may be appropriate, but we may also explore other options with you.
  

Do I need to pay for a room change request if SDS is approving a change?

If you work through our office, and we are approving the room change as an accommodation, then you do not have to pay the room change fee. 

However, certain buildings have different rates and you are still responsible for paying the rate for your assigned building. 
  

Do all buildings have elevators?

No, many of the older residence halls do not, though some low floor rooms may be accessible without stairs. Please see the Housing Website to learn about building amenities. 

Contact your SDS Counselor, or register with our office, if you have concerns about your assigned building/room. 
  

Which buildings have air conditioning?

Some buildings have air conditioning, some have centralized air filtration (but not cooling), and some do not have either. Please see the Housing Website to learn about building amenities. 

Contact your SDS Counselor, or register with our office, if you have concerns about your assigned building/room. 
  

I have certain allergies. How can I be sure that I am not exposed to them in my residence hall?

Please follow the steps to register with our office. We can discuss with you what may be possible.
   

Can I bring my own air purifier or filtration? Can I bring an air conditioner?

Nothing can be hung or mounted on or outside windows, which limits air conditioners as an option. Air purifiers can be brought if they meet the wattage requirements. Fans are also an option. 

Refer to Housing’s Rules and Standards for guidance about wattage for devices. 
   

Can I bring a fridge or microwave?

Yes, but there are limits on wattage. Minifridges are generally okay. Refer to Housing’s Rules and Standards for guidance. 
   

I have ADHD or a learning disability and need a quiet place to study. Where can I study?

Quiet spaces are located in residence halls, libraries, other academic buildings. You can book a study space in a library or academic building using the Cornell Chatter app
   

Do I have to live on campus?

Cornell has an on campus residency requirement for certain undergraduate students. If you feel you are unable to live on campus due to a disability, follow the steps to register with our office.
   

Animals on Campus

Are animals allowed on campus?

Pets are not generally allowed in campus buildings.  

Emotional support animals in campus housing can be allowed in certain circumstances if approved by our office.

Service animals (animals trained to perform a task to help someone with a disability) are allowed on campus. 

Learn more about Cornell’s Policy for Animals on Campus.
   

What is the process to get an animal approved?

Learn more about the process to have an Emotional Support Animal on campus. 

Service animals do not need to be approved. If there are concerns with bringing a service animal into certain spaces (e.g., labs), please contact our office or speak to your SDS Counselor.

For other types of animals, refer to Cornell's Animals on Campus Policy

Clubs and Organizations

Are there any student groups or clubs that have a disability focus?

There are many active student organizations on campus! The list is changing every year, and each group has various means of advertising (e.g., websites, Facebook pages). We maintain a selected list of student organizations that have a disability-focus. A full, searchable listing of all the organizations on campus (there are over 1,000!) can be found on Cornell's Student Organizations website. 

For students returning from a health leave, there is a Returning from Leave Student Group that provides connections on campus once you are back. 

Cornell Health also offers different student groups each semester for those with certain medical or mental health conditions.
   

What groups are there in the Ithaca community?

The Finger Lakes Independence Center provides advocacy and has a variety of groups for people with disabilities. Cornell students are welcome.

Learning About Disability

What is disability?

A disability is a condition that significantly impacts you ability to think, eat, breathe, walk, work, see, speak, learn, etc. Learn more about how disability is defined
   

What disability-related courses are there at Cornell?

Cornell University has a diverse offering of disability studies courses across multiple disciplines.  

  • The ILR School offers many courses on Disability Studies.  
  • Additional examples of disability-related courses: 
    • ASIAN 4420 – Cultures of Disability in Japan 
    • DEA 3510 – Human Factors and Inclusive Design 
    • FGSS 4035 – Intersectionality in Disability Studies 
    • HIST 2721 – History of Mental Health and Mental Illness in US 
    • FREN 3520 - (Dis)ability Studies: A Brief History 
  • Please note these classes may not be available every semester, or may change. 
Can you recommend any resources for me to learn more about disability?

We have a Lending Library with resources on a wide range of disability-related topics. If you need help finding something on a certain topic, please feel free to contact your SDS Counselor or our office.
   

Financial Resources

Is financial aid available for students with disabilities?

Costs related to disabling conditions may affect your financial need, but having a disability does not automatically qualify you for financial aid. 

You can contact the Financial Aid Office at Cornell to discuss your specific situation and to get more information about possible resources. 
   

Are there scholarships specifically for students with disabilities?

We will periodically post information about scholarships on our Facebook page

A detailed listing of recurring scholarship opportunities for students with disabilities can be found at the Affordable Colleges website.