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Residential Life

Princeton has always believed that students learn as much from their residential experiences as from their formal academic work. Life outside the classroom provides many opportunities for undergraduates to apply their talents, broaden their perspectives, deepen their values and re-examine their goals.

Residential Colleges

Princeton’s residential colleges provide a comfortable social structure, academic advising, opportunities to meet faculty members, a variety of intellectual, cultural, social and recreational activities, and a strong sense of identity. All undergraduates are required to reside in a residential college during their freshman and sophomore years. 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.

In the fall of 2007, coinciding with the opening of Whitman College, Princeton’s sixth residential college, the residential college system expanded to include more options for all students. While the majority of students housed in the residential colleges are freshmen and sophomores, juniors and seniors also have the option to live in a residential college if they choose. No matter where they choose to live, all juniors and seniors have the opportunity to take two meals a week in the colleges and to participate in a variety of programs and activities there.

The residential college community includes a senior faculty member as master, 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 upperclass 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 counsel 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 supports students in crisis, handles disciplinary matters, oversees the residential education program and works closely with the RCAs and the College Council.

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. They also make students aware of the resources available to them through a variety of University offices, including University Health Services; the programming centers (Pace, Davis International, Fields, LGBT and Women’s centers); student organizations; the Office of Religious Life; and the Center for Jewish Life.

Each college has a group of faculty fellows, appointed by the master, 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.

Student Rights, Rules & Responsibilities

The policy guide "Rights, Rules, Responsibilities," which all freshmen 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. University trustees have 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.

Alcohol Coalition Committee

High-risk drinking at colleges and universities, including Princeton, is a complex and serious issue. The Alcohol Coalition Committee (ACC), composed of Princeton students, faculty and staff, is tasked with addressing high-risk drinking on campus. The ACC defines high-risk drinking as: Any time the health, well-being or safety of the individual drinking or others is likely to be or is compromised or when community standards are likely to be or are compromised. The ACC encourages student participation and leadership on this important issue.


The Residential Living Policies Guide is a source of information about room and board at the University.

Early Arrival Policy. Dormitories officially open on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013; the first day of classes is Wednesday, Sept. 11. Undergraduates who are not participating in an official University pre-orientation or orientation program may return to campus during specified hours, beginning Saturday, Sept. 7, through Wednesday, Sept. 11. Students who return to campus prior to Sept. 7 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.

Freshmen and Sophomores. Freshmen 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 college master.

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 upperclass dormitories elsewhere on campus. Dormitory accommodations for upperclass 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 freshmen must complete the Disabilities and Other Special Needs form in the matriculation packet, while upperclass students 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 36-by-80-inch twin mattress. 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 in the Residential Living Policies Guide.

Students who plan to bring personal furnishings should first check the Residential Living Policies Guide to determine if these furnishings meet University requirements.

Personal computers, stereos and televisions are permitted in student rooms. If the student brings a computer from home, he or she 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 can also purchase computers from the Student Computing Initiative that have been subscribed to Dormnet. 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.

Spring Term Checkout. Students are expected to check out 24 hours after their final exam, but no later than noon Saturday, May 24, 2014. Specific questions regarding checkout procedures and dates should be directed to the Undergraduate Housing Office.

Telephone Services. The Office of Information Technology oversees the unified messaging service Tiger Voice, which is now available for all students. Tiger Voice provides students with their own unique telephone number, unifies their voicemail and email, and is a great way for students to stay connected with other students and faculty. Students have the option to install the Tiger Voice number in their dormitory room to have complete local and long distance service. For questions about Tiger Voice, email or call the Student Telephone Office at 609-258-HELP (select option 4, option 1). Students should note that all dorm rooms still have an active jack for emergency and local calls. This is not a student's Tiger Voice number. Students will need to purchase their own phone to utilize this basic service.

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. For information about wireless discounts, visit the Student Telephone Services website. For help setting up email on smartphones or other wireless questions, contact the Student Telephone Office at 609-258-HELP (then select option 4, option 1).

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. This service offers rates as low as 4 cents per minute. All Princeton University students are eligible for this service. For more information and to sign up for this service, see the University CellularLD Program Web page.

For more information about student telephones, voice mail and mobile services at Princeton, visit the Student Telephone Services website or call 609-258-HELP and select option 4, option 1.

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. Undergraduate students should use the following address format to receive all USPS First Class Mail, publications, periodicals, and Standard mail, as well as packages and parcels from all carriers:

Addressing Format:
Student’s Name
Mailbox# Frist Center
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544
Jane Doe
xxxx Frist Center
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

xxxx = Student mailbox number

A ZIP+4 digit system has been established for Frist Campus Center student mailboxes; these numbers, as well as address change forms and other information, can be found on the Mail Services website.

Note: Readmitted students will receive a new mailbox assignment from Mail Services, and can contact Mail Services to get the new mailbox number.

A student receiving certified, registered, Priority, Express or Parcel Post mail will receive an email notification and be required to sign for their item at the student package pick-up window; a student TigerCard ID is required.

Student Packages. All packages should be sent to the student’s Frist mailbox address for ease of pick-up. Packages addressed to a student’s Frist Campus Center box address are handled through Mail Services and entered into a package tracking and notification system. A notification of package receipt is sent by Mail Services via email to the student the same day the package arrives on campus and is available for pick-up. The package is held in the custody of Mail Services until pick-up, and the student’s TigerCard is required for pick-up.

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. An example of the format for the student mailbox address is provided in the Student Mail section above. 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.

Fire Regulations. Princeton’s fire regulations are designed to prevent injuries to members of the University community and damage to facilities. Regulations are listed in the Residential Living Policies Guide; see Fire Safety.

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. Details on the latter three items can be found in the Residential Living Policies Guide. Only the exact models listed by number are permitted in dormitories. Others will be confiscated, and fines will be assessed. Students are not permitted to have individual microwave ovens in their rooms. The only exception to this policy are individual microwaves in locked, limited-access kitchens, in locked cabinets in open kitchens, and in the private kitchens in some suites. In addition, students are not permitted to have candles, alcohol and oil lamps, incense or anything similar. Also, cube electrical adapters are not permitted; however, power strips containing a breaker are allowed. These items will be confiscated and disposed of, and fines will be assessed.

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. The fines are punitive; the charges are determined as a function of labor, time and materials. Please refer to the Residential Living Policies Guide 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. This does not involve a charge, unless there are repeated offenses. If the key/card is not returned by the end of the following business day, the student is charged an administrative fee. After hours, students must go to the Office of Public Safety to borrow a key/card. Fees may apply. 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. For more details, please see the complete Revised Lockout Policy.

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.

A room condition report is left in each room or suite at the beginning of the school year. It is the responsibility of students to check their rooms for any damage or missing items of furniture not noted on the report. If damage or deficiencies are found, students should contact the Inspection Office immediately to request a reinspection; otherwise charges are made to the occupants’ accounts.

Unannounced fire-safety inspections are conducted for each room several times a year; violations result in warnings or fines. Students should refer to the Residential Living Policies Guide for details.

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.

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

Pets. Only fish may be kept in dormitory rooms, in tanks that are 10 gallons or less. No other animals are permitted in the dormitories. Specific details can be found in the Residential Living Policies Guide.

Parking. Freshmen and sophomores are prohibited from bringing cars to campus. Currently, upperclass students are permitted to park their cars in assigned student parking lots. Upperclassmen may not register a vehicle on behalf of a freshman or sophomore. The parking and registration charge for the academic year is $200.

WeCar is a popular car sharing option at Princeton 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 many bike paths; for many it is a preferred way to traverse the campus. Bicycles should be secured at bike racks located throughout campus that accommodate more than 3,600 bikes. All bikes must be registered with Transportation & Parking Services. Students are strongly encouraged to wear bicycle helmets and should obey local traffic laws.

Please consult "Going Places, A Car-Free Guide to Princeton University" (.pdf), available on the Transportation & Parking Services website, for additional  transportation alternatives.


Regardless of class year, all students living in a residential college are required to purchase a meal plan. First- and second-year students may select the Unlimited, Block 235 or 190 meal plan. Upperclass students residing in a residential college must sign up for a minimum of a Block 95 plan. Meal plans are optional for students residing outside of the residential colleges. 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.

Meal plans do not cover the fall recess, winter recess, intersession and spring recess periods. Dining Services offers special meal agreements for the following periods: fall recess, intersession and spring recess. These 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. 

Meal hours are posted on the Dining Services 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 on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Dining Services also provides a bag lunch program to students with meal plans. Bag lunches are available Monday through Friday and may be ordered on-line. 

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.

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

Many upperclass students 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 upperclass students 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 online. 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.

The online version of the Princeton University Store is available at

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 coursebooks at Labyrinth Books. For hours, events and programs and other information, please visit the store’s website or email

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.