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Residential Life

One of Princeton's most distinctive features is its close-knit residential community. Students learn as much from their residential experiences as from their academic work. Life outside the classroom provides many opportunities for undergraduates to apply their talents, broaden their perspectives, deepen their values, re-examine their goals and enjoy fun activities with friends.

Residential Colleges

Princeton’s residential colleges provide a variety of intellectual, cultural, social and recreational activities. All undergraduates reside in a residential college during their freshman and sophomore years, and some juniors and seniors also live in the residential colleges.

Each college consists of a cluster of dormitories with a dining hall, lounges, and seminar and study rooms. Because the residential colleges encompass both living and learning experiences, they contribute in many ways to a student’s education at Princeton.

The residential college community includes a senior faculty member as head of the college, a residential college dean, a director of studies, a director of student life, a college administrator, secretarial staff, resident graduate students, faculty fellows and advisers, and student residential college advisers (RCAs).

The college dean and director of studies are responsible for academic advising and intellectual and cultural programming in the college. They oversee the academic progress of the freshmen and sophomores living in the college, as well as of all juniors and seniors associated with the college. The dean and the director of studies help students in academic or personal difficulty, provide academic support and work closely with faculty academic advisers, as well as with academic departments.

The director of student life (DSL) oversees the RCAs and the residential education program. The DSL assists and supports students who are experiencing personal difficulties, emergencies or crises of various sorts and connects them with other University resources. The DSL also works to uphold community standards of conduct.

The RCAs are juniors and seniors who reside in the college and provide guidance primarily to freshmen in developing thoughtful and responsible decision-making in social, personal and academic spheres. Through one-on-one advising, RCAs help students create important connections with University offices and appropriate student organizations. The advisers work in partnership with the college staff and other University offices to provide information and support for all students and to offer programs on community issues as well as small-scale social activities. They work together to foster a sense of community and appreciation for diversity and to develop a sense of community responsibility among first- and second-year students.

Each college has a group of faculty fellows, appointed by the head of the college, who participate in college events and may often dine with students, as well as a cohort of resident graduate students who contribute to a wide variety of college programs.

Juniors and seniors who do not live in a residential college still continue to be advised by the college staff, and have the opportunity to take two meals a week in the colleges and to participate in a variety of programs and activities there.

Student Rights, Rules & Responsibilities

The policy guide "Rights, Rules, Responsibilities," which all first-year students receive before they enter Princeton, includes regulations concerning general conduct, campus associations, off-campus activities, University security, the honor system, academic work, disciplinary action and grievance procedures. Students are expected to be familiar with regulations and to respect each other’s rights, privileges and sensibilities.

Alcohol Policy. Alcoholic beverages are not, in general, provided at events sponsored by the University, the residential colleges, University centers, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and classes where persons under the legal drinking age are present. When alcoholic beverages are served, all applicable state and municipal laws must be observed. The legal drinking age in New Jersey is 21. Violations of University policy include serving alcoholic beverages to persons under 21 years of age on campus or in the local vicinity, purchasing alcohol for a minor, presenting false identification for the purpose of purchasing alcoholic beverages, transporting an open container of alcohol by any student across common spaces of the University (for example in lounges, game rooms, courtyards, dining areas or hallways), possessing any container of alcohol by students under the age of 21 in common spaces of the University, and serving alcohol in a manner that endangers health and safety. The University has funded a special initiative to provide numerous non-alcohol social events throughout the year.

Drug Policy. The University does not permit the possession, use, manufacture or distribution of illegal substances, prescription drugs without a prescription or drug paraphernalia of any kind or in any amount, and it administers its own penalties for such acts. Offenses considered to be serious violations include the manufacture, sale or distribution of illegal drugs; any involvement in illegal drug use or traffic with minors, particularly from the local area; and possession or use of the more dangerous or highly addictive drugs. Students who violate these regulations may also face charges by local law enforcement authorities.


The University offers a variety of housing options that help make Princeton feel like a student's home away from home. Undergraduates are guaranteed housing for all four years (with first-year students and sophomores required to live in a residential college) and nearly 98 percent of all undergraduates live on campus. The Housing and Real Estate Services website answers questions about room and board at the University.

Arrival Policy. Dormitory check-in for all first-year students in the Class of 2021 is Sept. 2, 2017. Dormitories officially open for all other undergraduates (not participating in Orientation activities) on Saturday, Sept. 9. The first day of classes is Wednesday, Sept. 13. Undergraduates who are not participating in an official University pre-orientation or Orientation program may return to campus beginning Saturday through Wednesday, Sept. 9-13. Students who return to Princeton prior to Sept. 9 must make arrangements to stay off-campus at their own expense; on-campus housing will not be available. More information is available about the University's early arrival and move-in policies.

What to Bring. The Housing and Real Estate Services website has helpful guidelines for what to bring when moving into University housing and what should stay at home. The guidelines include prohibited items, such as candles, and a list of approved appliances for campus dorms.

First-year students and Sophomores. All first-years and sophomores are required to live in one of Princeton's six residential colleges. First-years are assigned randomly to a residential college (where they live until the end of the sophomore year) and to a room and roommates by the residential college staff and the Housing Office, who try to match roommates’ lifestyles and habits as much as possible. Many rooming arrangements require a period of adjustment, but in time friendships usually evolve. If it becomes clear that a particular set of roommates is mismatched, members of the college staff work with the students to try to resolve differences. When necessary, room changes are arranged through the head of the college.

For sophomore year, students select their own rooming groups and choose rooms in their residential college through a lottery known as “Room Draw,” which takes place in the spring.

Juniors and Seniors. Juniors and seniors may draw into residential colleges or upperclassmen dormitories elsewhere on campus. Dormitory accommodations for upperclassmen students include various configurations for group and individual living. Seniors generally have the option of selecting single rooms, while only a limited number of singles are available to juniors. Each year a number of rising juniors are placed on a waiting list and are assigned space in late July.

Some of the independent eating clubs also have living quarters for their officers and extra space that they offer other students.

Juniors and seniors may live off campus if they wish, although houses and apartments in town are in short supply and rents are high.

Accessibility and Special Services. The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS) serves students with disabilities that require housing and dining accommodations. Incoming first-year students must complete the "Disabilities and Other Special Needs" form in the matriculation packet, while sophomores, juniors and seniors submit special needs housing applications in early February. Both ODUS and the Office of Disability Services can provide information and resources on campus accessibility.

Furnishings. The University provides a desk, chair, bookcase, dresser and bed for each resident; furniture may not be removed from any dormitory room. Rooms without closets have wardrobes, which are secured and are not to be moved. Students must provide their own linens and pillows. Bed linens should fit a twin extra-long mattress except for in Whitman College where the beds are standard twin. Many students add mirrors, rugs, plants, end tables and lamps. Halogen lamps are not permitted in student dormitories because of the serious fire hazard they present. Students should only purchase lamps that use incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Students are permitted to have under-the-counter refrigerators (not exceeding 5.2 cubic feet) in their rooms, as long as the units do not impede the flow of traffic to the exits. Regulations concerning lofts, room decoration and painting are outlined on the Housing and Real Estate Services website.

Students who plan to bring personal furnishings should first check the Housing and Real Estate Services website to determine if these furnishings meet University requirements.

Laundries. There are 30 laundry rooms in the dormitories. The washers and dryers operate without need of money. The cost of operation is included in the room rent charge. A year-round laundry service is available through the Student Laundry Agency. For information, students should call 609-258-4906.

Housing Policies. Students should look at the policies and regulations on the Housing and Real Estate Services website to understand their rights and responsibilities while living in University dormitories.

Fire Safety Policies. Princeton’s fire regulations are designed to prevent injuries to members of the University community and damage to facilities. No heat-producing electrical appliances are permitted in University dormitories, except for the following: irons, electric blankets, electric curlers, hair dryers, approved kettles, hot-air popcorn poppers and coffee makers. Detailed information about approved electrical appliances can be found on the Housing and Real Estate Services website.

Painting. Students are not permitted to paint and/or spackle their rooms. Violations of this policy will result in substantial fines and charges for repainting (by University painters) to each occupant. Please refer to the Housing and Real Estate Services website for an explanation of the fines and restoration charges.

Lockouts. During working hours, students must go to the Housing and Real Estate Services Office to borrow a key/card. After the third lockout students are charged $30 per lockout for the remainder of the year. If the key/card is not returned by the end of the following business day, the student is charged an administrative fee of $75. After hours, students must go to the Office of Public Safety to borrow a key/card. The same fee structure applies. If a student needs lockout assistance at the room, Public Safety will let them into their room and the student will be charged a fee of $30.

Maintenance and Inspections. Inspections are conducted prior to occupancy and immediately following checkout to determine the condition of every room or suite. Charges for damage to the room or missing furniture are applied to students’ accounts after checkout.

Unannounced fire-safety inspections are conducted for each room several times a year; violations result in warnings or fines. Students should refer to the Housing and Real Estate Services website for details.

Pets. Only fish may be kept in dormitory rooms, in tanks that are 10 gallons or less. 

Technology Resources. Personal computers, stereos and televisions are permitted in student rooms. If your student brings a computer from home, they will subscribe to Dormnet, a data service that allows access to campus and global network computing and information resources directly from a student’s room. Students who own television sets may subscribe through OIT to dorm cable video service. Students should keep all electronic equipment secure by locking their rooms, marking items with identification numbers and registering these items with Public Safety. Adequate insurance coverage for personal items should be reviewed prior to the start of the school year.

Telephone Services. The Office of Information Technology oversees student telephone services, and discounts on mobile service providers for Princeton students.

Mobile Technology Service. Princeton University students can take advantage of the University's agreements with wireless carriers. The benefits offered to students vary from carrier to carrier.

Cellular long distance for less (especially beneficial for international calling). Princeton University has partnered with MobileSphere, an international wireless long-distance provider, which provides competitive long distance and international calling. MobileSphere’s CellularLD service is prepaid, affordable and can be used either from a cell or landline phone.

Spring Term Checkout. Students are expected to check out of their campus housing 24 hours after their final exam, but no later than noon Saturday, May 26, 2017. Specific questions regarding checkout procedures and dates should be directed to the Undergraduate Housing Office.

Storage Facilities. Students may contact the Moving and Storage Agency to store items during the summer months. Information is available starting in April.

Student Mail. Mail is delivered once each day to student mailboxes, which are located in the Frist Campus Center. Undergraduates are assigned one mailbox for the duration of their enrollment. Families should use the addressing formats outlined on the Mail Services website to send standard mail directly to undergraduate students' Frist mailbox. For certified, registered, Priority, Express or Parcel Post mail, students will receive an email notification and be required to sign for their item at the student package pick-up window in Frist Campus Center; a student TigerCard ID is required. (Note: Readmitted students will receive a new mailbox assignment in Frist Campus Center from Mail Services, and can contact Mail Services to get the new mailbox number).

Student Packages. When Mail Services receives packages for students, they will be sent an email notification advising when and where to pick up their packages. Students should wait until they receive an email notification to pick up their package. Students must show their TigerCard in order to pick up their packages.

Addressing Format

Student’s Name
Mailbox# Frist Center
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544


Jane Doe
xxxx Frist Center   (xxxx = Student mailbox number)
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

External carriers (USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL) have no access to student residential housing for direct delivery, so all packages must be addressed to the student using their student mailbox address. Currently, there are no services provided on-campus to assist students with outbound shipments to any domestic or international destinations.

Change of Address and Mail Forwarding. During the summer and other temporary leaves of absence, first class mail will be forwarded to the home address that has been provided to the University. If there is a change of address, or a need to have mail forwarded elsewhere, please complete a Mail Services change of address form, which is available either online or at Mail Services Frist Campus Center location. Only first class mail will be afforded forwarding privileges — periodicals, publications and other types of bulk mail are not forwarded.

Helpful Tips. Here are some helpful tips for both parents and students from Mail Services:

  • Do not send cash through the U.S. Mail or campus mail — use checks or money orders.
  • Have all gift cards sent with tracking (certified, delivery confirmation, insured, registered, etc.)
  • Keep your mailbox locked at all times.
  • Check your mailbox regularly — the mailbox can fill quickly.
  • If a student requires special mailbox accommodations, contact Mail Services for assistance.
  • Please visit the Mail Services website for additional information, or contact Mail Services directly at 609-258-1352.

Cars & Parking

Princeton University is a pedestrian campus; students are expected to walk, bike or ride TigerTransit to classes, eating clubs, and athletic practices and events. Undergraduate students are generally not permitted to bring a vehicle to campus. Transportation and Parking Services has an exemption process available to those undergraduates with a compelling need for a parking permit. A compelling need for a parking permit is defined as a need that cannot be reasonably accommodated by University, commercial, regional transit or transportation options or, would cause a hardship.

The Enterprise CarShare Program at Princeton is a popular car sharing option allowing students with a driver's license to rent a car for a short period of time. Vehicles are conveniently located on campus and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Car sharing provides access to cars and helps to reduce congestion and traffic on campus while supporting the goals of the University's Sustainability Plan.

The University also has a bike share program for members of the University community. Members pay a one-time membership fee, and through a smartphone app, rent a bike from any of the many bike share locations on campus. Rentals less than two hours are free, and after that, are $2 per hour (maximum $20). Biking is preferred way for many to traverse the campus. All bikes must be registered with Transportation & Parking Services. Students are strongly encouraged to wear bicycle helmets and should obey local traffic laws.


Regardless of class year, all students living in a residential college are required to purchase a meal plan. Meal plans are optional for students residing outside of the residential colleges. Meal plan options for first-year students and sophomores living in the residential colleges, as well as juniors and seniors living in residential colleges or upperclass housing, are outlined on the Campus Dining website. Students with a meal plan may dine in any residential college or the Center for Jewish Life. The Center for Jewish Life is a certified kosher dining facility. When considering which type of plan to purchase, it is important to remember that there are a limited number of kitchen facilities in the dormitories suitable for the preparation of full meals.

Students also may find healthy food and beverage options at the various cafes around campus. Juniors and seniors may use Paw Points at these locations even if they do not have a meal plan.

Meal plans provide meals for the academic year, fall and spring semester, and begin with breakfast on the Monday prior to the first day of classes and end with dinner on Friday of the final examination period for the second term.

Meal hours are posted on the Campus Dining website and at each dining unit. In general, breakfast in the residential dining halls is served from 7:30-11 a.m.; lunch from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; and dinner from 5-8 p.m. On weekends, brunch is served 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

Campus Dining also provides a Lunch-to-Go program to students with meal plans. The Lunch-to-Go program is available Monday through Friday and may be ordered online.

Students who miss a meal in the residential colleges are eligible for Late Show, which features late lunch Monday through Friday and late dinner Monday through Thursday. Late Show meals are served at the Frist Campus Center Food Gallery at the following times: lunch 2-3:30 p.m. and dinner 8:30-10 p.m. One meal credit (swipe of a student's TigerCard) may be used for each Late Show meal.

Meal plan agreements do not include Orientation (except for first-year students), fall recess, winter recess, intersession or spring recess. Special Agreements are available for these periods except for winter recess. Recess plans are complimentary to unlimited meal plan holders provided registration requirements are met. Otherwise students may purchase a recess plan one week prior to each break and through the entire break period. The plan fee is charged to the student’s University account. Recess meal plans may be canceled before the first meal is served. No refunds are issued once the plan begins. All scheduled serving days are in accordance with the University academic calendar and are subject to change if the calendar should be revised.

For more information about residential college dining facilities and meal plans visit the Campus Dining website.

Many juniors and seniors join one of the 11 eating clubs immediately adjacent to the campus, which operate independently. Five of the clubs are nonselective, which means students can join by signing in. The other six clubs are selective, with new members chosen by current members. All of the eating clubs are coed and offer shared meal plans that allow members residing in a four-year residential college to eat meals in both their eating club and their residential college.

Some juniors and seniors decide not to join an eating club or sign up for a University dining plan. Instead they become “independents” and prepare their own meals in dormitory kitchens. The University also has co-ops at 2 Dickinson St., Brown Hall and 1901 Hall. Co-op members often shop and cook as a group.

Shopping & Banking

The Princeton University Store, or U-Store is one of the oldest independent co-ops in the country. It is governed by a board of trustees comprising students, alumni and administrators and owned by its members. Members of the co-op receive a 10 percent discount on most purchases in the store at 36 University Place, in the insignia store at 114 Nassau St., and on the Princeton University Store website. Membership is available to anyone and may be opened at any U-Store register, or online.

The 36 University Place location is a convenience store that sells toiletries, snacks, drinks, fresh fruit and vegetables, and prepared food from local eateries. In addition, this location offers stationery and school supplies, dorm-approved appliances and dorm furnishings, bedding and linens, batteries, digital photo needs, computer software and tech gear, as well as Princeton apparel and gifts. There is also an ATM, a full-service pharmacy, a Clinique counter, and a printing and copying shop. This location is open from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. when classes are in session.

The 114 Nassau St. location offers the greatest selection of orange and black Princeton merchandise available. It offers a wide variety of insignia apparel for men, women, and children, as well as a distinctive selection of Princeton gifts and accessories. This location is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Labyrinth Books, located at 122 Nassau St., is an independent bookstore that serves both the University and the local Princeton communities. See the "Courses" section of the Academic Life page for more information about purchasing or renting coursebooks at Labyrinth Books. Students receive 30 percent off all course books purchased at Labyrinth, and an additional 25 percent discount on used books. For hours, events and programs and other information, visit the store’s website.

Princeton Shopping Center, located about two miles from campus, is accessible by bus. Among its many tenants are a supermarket, a drug store, a computer supplies store, clothing stores, a bakery, several restaurants, a laundromat, a dry cleaner and a bank. Several major malls are located within five miles of the campus along Route 1 and are accessible by bus.

Banks and Credit Unions. Many local stores do not accept checks unless they are written on local bank accounts; consequently, a local checking account is convenient for students to have. Many banks offer low- or no-cost checking if a minimum balance is maintained. Banks within walking distance of campus are:

  • Bank of America, 90 Nassau St., 08542. 609-430-2069
  • Chase Bank, 16 Nassau St., 08542. 609-683-6060
  • PNC Bank, 76 Nassau St., 08542. 609-497-6700
  • Sovereign Bank, 188 Nassau St., 08542. 609-924-4498
  • The Bank of Princeton, 21 Chambers St., 08542. 609-921-6800
  • Wells Fargo, 194 Nassau St., 08540. 609-921-6000

In addition, the Princeton University Federal Credit Union offers limited services at its on-campus location in the New South Building, 7th floor. The main, full-service office is located at 104 Carnegie Center, Suite 103, Princeton, NJ, 08540; 609-945-6200 or 800-456-5038.