New Students

Congratulations on your acceptance to Cornell!

During Cornell Days in April every year, we invite all prospective students and families visiting during Cornell Days to attend our drop in hours from 2:00-4:00pm at the Student Disability Services office located on Level 5 of Cornell Health to talk with a SDS staff member for a brief 10-15 minute meeting to learn more about disability services at Cornell. Appointments between 9:00am-4:00pm can also be scheduled in advance. 

Answers to common questions are below. Feel free to contact us for more information: 607-254-4545.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for disability services or accommodations?

Applying for disability services and/or accommodations involves the student doing two things:

  1. Complete the Disability Self-Disclosure and Request for Access Accommodations Form.
  2. Submit supporting disability documentation via fax at 607-255-1562 or upload it to SDS Online Services when you submit the above form or later when you have the documentation. In order to know what type of documentation is needed, please review our Documentation Guidelines.

After this information is received, an SDS counselor will be contact you by phone or email about the next steps. If you are unsure whether you qualify for disability services and/or accommodations, you can indicate that on your disclosure form and an SDS counselor will follow up with you to provide more information about eligibility for disability services.

What is the deadline for registering with SDS?

If you are requesting a housing accommodation, first year students must submit the Self-Disclosure Form and supporting documentation by May 5th. Transfer and graduate students who are requesting a housing accommodation should do so as early possible.

For all other accommodations and services, we invite incoming first year students to submit the form and documentation by June 15th, and incoming transfer students by July 1st, to allow ample time for planning. Students with more than one disability or accommodation request only need to submit one Self-Disclosure Form. 

A student can become registered with SDS at any point during their Cornell career.

I have allergies and/or asthma. Can I get air-conditioned housing?

The communities that have manually controlled air conditioning in rooms are:

  • The Townhouses (first year community)
  • The Ecology House (program house for any student)
  • Carl Becker House (for upper level or transfer students)

Beyond that, there are very few residential communities that are climate controlled and/or air filtered. Eligibility for housing accommodations is determined by the severity of the disability and its impact on daily living, housing access, and the available housing options. Students should follow our registration process to be considered for housing accommodations of any kind.

How current does my documentation need to be?

Documentation guidelines vary depending on the type of disability. Current and comprehensive documentation is needed to determine not only a student’s eligibility to receive accommodations, but also, their current levels of functioning.

  • For learning disabilities and ADHD, this typically means that students have been evaluated within the last three years.
  • Documentation for mental health disabilities must indicate the current impact of the mental health condition and demonstrate that the student has been substantially limited by the condition for more than several months.
  • For physical and medical disabilities, documentation should be current and indicate the severity of the condition and impact on daily living.

Please review our Documentation Guidelines for more details.

I have a disability, but I don’t need any accommodations. Should I still register with SDS?

We encourage all students with disabilities to register with SDS. 

Cornell is committed to creating a campus community that is inclusive of all aspects of diversity and identity, including disability identity. SDS serves as a resource to all students who have a disability, at any point in your Cornell career. By registering with SDS, you may avail yourself of resources and opportunities that may will be beneficial to you, whether you utilize accommodations/services or not. When you complete the Self-Disclosure Form, you will see where you can indicate that you are not requesting any services or accommodations at this time.

I have a medical condition, but never thought of it as a disability. Should I register with SDS?

This happens a lot. At Cornell, when students ask for modifications to policies in course or housing for a medical condition, the requests must be facilitated through Student Disability Services. It is also possible you may not realize until you get to campus and start engaging with classes and the campus that you need something. That is okay, too. You can register with SDS at any point in your Cornell career.

Can I get a learning disability or ADHD re-evaluation done at Cornell?

No. Cornell does not have services for LD or ADHD evaluations. Students need to submit current and comprehensive evaluations when requesting disability services. Please review our Documentation Guidelines for more information about what is required.

If you would like information about an off-campus referral, please contact SDS at 607-254-4545 to arrange to meet with an SDS counselor to discuss the type of assessment that you are seeking. We can provide information about local referrals.

Will my registration with SDS be kept confidential?

SDS keeps documentation and information on registration status in a secure location. When sharing information with faculty and campus partners involved in the provision of accommodations, our focus is on the accommodation you need for equal access, not on the disability.

For more information, please review our confidentiality protocols.

Is there financial aid or scholarships specifically for students with disabilities?

The purpose of financial aid is to help students and families meet educational expenses that cannot be met through their own resources. Financial aid can be either need-based or non-need-based. The results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with the cost of education will determine whether or not a student has financial need. Costs related to disabling conditions may affect your financial need but having a disability does not qualify a student automatically for financial aid. Priority consideration for financial aid applications is given to applications received before February 1.

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.

The office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) is an agency under the New York State Education Department that provides financial and advocacy support for persons with disabilities for the purpose of gaining full employment. To locate your local ACCES-VR office, visit their website, or call 1-800-222-5627.

What other services are available for students with disabilities?

Many services are available on-campus that assist students with disabilities, as found on the Campus Resources section of our website. The list below is just an example of some of the services available.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides a variety of counseling services including individual counseling, group therapy, and counseling on issues regarding drug and alcohol use and eating disorders. CAPS is located in Cornell Health.

Cornell Libraries have adaptive equipment such as JAWS, ZoomText, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and CCTV’s for use by all students. The libraries will make arrangements to assist with individual concerns regarding access to the library stacks and book retrieval.

Transportation assistance is available through SDS. Our staff will meet with you to discuss services to meet your needs. Options include free bus passes, rides on the CULift paratransit shuttle, and permission to purchase an accessible ("handicapped") parking pass.

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

Yes! The list is changing every year, and each group has various means of advertising (i.e., 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.


Feel free to contact us with any other questions!

More information for newly admitted students can be found on the New Students' Website.