Understand Work/Life Benefits and Policies

The purpose of this page is to provide an overview of the Columbia University benefits and policies that are relevant to work/life. Please note that the following benefits and policies are not managed by the Office of Work/life, however, we would be glad help you think through how they may work to meet your needs. 

Please contact [email protected] or call (212) 854-8019.

Adoption is a legal process that creates a parent-child relationship between persons not related by blood; the adopted child is entitled to all privileges belonging to a biological child of the adoptive parents. The three primary types of adoption are domestic, international, and within family.

Foster care is the temporary care of a child who has been placed outside his or her own home in order to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment during a period of family disruption. Foster parents work with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), along with a team of people that may include the child’s birth parents or other relatives, a law guardian, and/or other health care or service providers.  The ultimate goal is to find a permanent home for the child. The OCFS evaluates and “certifies” (term used for a non-relative’s home) or “approves” (term used for a relative’s home) potential foster parents.

Columbia officers who adopt a child or accept a foster child into their home are eligible for many of the same policies and benefits as parents with biological children. In addition, the Adoption Assistance Program will reimburse eligible faculty and staff for certain expenses directly related to the legal adoption of a child.

Additional informational resources are available through the Employee Assistance Program, which provides:

  • Assistance with domestic and international adoption agencies
  • Support with stepchild adoptions and foster parent programs
  • Resources to help understand international regulations (e.g., details on inter-country adoption and The Hague Convention)
  • Educational resources, such as government websites on international adoption
  • Literature to educate parents on the adoption process (e.g., types of options when adopting a child, private vs. agency adoptions and financial aid resources)

For more details, visit the Humana website (username: columbia; password: eap).

Adoption Assistance Program

The University's Adoption Assistance Program assists full-time, benefits-eligible officers and non-union support staff with the often substantial costs incurred with adoption. 

Please visit the HR Benefits website for more information about the program, a complete list of expenses that qualify for reimbursement, and instructions on how to submit for reimbursement.

Adoption and Foster Care Information Resources

Some benefits eligible Officers may receive access to funds to use toward early child care expenses. This benefit is provided though the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

For eligibility requirements and additional details on how to enroll, please visit the Human Resources web page on Flexible Spending Accounts. Scroll to the bottom of the page.

Staff represented by collective bargaining agreements may also have access to child care benefits. Visit the  Human Resources Benefits website to review specific contract agreements.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers a network of specialized services, such as information research, referral, and short-term counseling. The EAP can help you and your household members with adult/elder care management as well as mental health issues. This program also offers life coaching, convenience services, webinars, and access to retail discounts.

Columbia University recognizes the growing demands on faculty and staff who have both professional and personal responsibilities, as well as the increasing challenge of finding new and better ways to manage people, time, space, and workload effectively.  Flexible work arrangements (FWA's) are a critical resource for maintaining job satisfaction and quality of life among Columbia University staff.  FWA's may promote productivity, enhance job satisfaction, enable recruitment and retention of valuable staff, and reduce greenhouse emissions consistent with the University's environmental goals.

Visit this website for detailed information.

  • Health Insurance: Columbia offers a full range of medical and dental coverage, as well as life insurance and long-term care insurance. For additional details and eligibility requirements, please read the Benefits descriptions found on the Human Resources website.
  • Flexible Spending Accounts: Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) allow you to save money on a wide variety of healthcare and dependent care expenses. For additional details and eligibility requirements, please read the Benefits descriptions found on the Human Resources website. Please also check the IRS's detailed listing of what medical expenses are covered, as that may apply to some of the Office of Work/Life's programming (i.e. breastfeeding equipment, weight loss programs to combat obesity, etc).

Columbia has adopted policies to fit the needs of parents caring for children while pursuing a career. Parental policies differ depending on whether you are an Officer of Administration, Instruction, Research, or the Libraries.

Visit this website for more details.



Columbia University offers the Surrogacy Assistance Program to help eligible employees with the Eligible Expenses incurred when using a surrogate to assist in carrying and giving birth to a child. Full-time, regular Officers and full-time, regular Non-Union Support Staff are eligible for this program.

The Program reimburses the Eligible Employee up to $30,000 per lifetime for Eligible Expenses. The $30,000 per lifetime limit applies to the Eligible Employee’s entire household, meaning that, if the Eligible Employee has a spouse who also qualifies as an Eligible Employee, the combined benefit the Eligible Employees may enjoy under the Program is limited to $30,000.

Please visit the Human Resources website for more information.

Columbia University offers several programs for tuition, both at and outside of the University.

  • At Columbia: The Tuition Exemption Benefit Program is offered for both Officers and Support Staff, so that you and your family members may take courses at Columbia.
  • At Other Colleges: College Tuition Scholarships for Officers' children can help offset the costs of college tuition outside Columbia.
  • At Primary Schools: Primary Tuition Scholarships for Officers' children can help offset the costs of primary schools.

Some collective bargaining units offer additional tuition benefits for their members; please see Union Contracts for more information.

For additional details and eligibility requirements, please read the Benefits descriptions found on the Human Resources website.