How to Apply for an Emotional Support Animal

Some students need emotional support animals for mental health reasons. CSU allows students to apply for an ESA.


Illustration by Madi Steele

     According to ResLife policy, students living in on-campus housing are not allowed to have pets, unless it is a fish in a ten-gallon tank or smaller.  If a student can provide medical proof that they are in need of, or could benefit from having an animal companion, they can apply to have an Emotional Support Animal in their dorm.

    Students must go through a few steps before they are allowed to have an ESA.:

     Firstly, the person in need of an ESA must have a valid referral from their counselor, therapist, or physician as to why having an animal companion would be beneficial to their mental health. If a person in need of an ESA is not already seeing a counselor or therapist, it’s still possible to qualify for an ESA.

     A student is required to have a minimum of six meetings with their therapist or counselor, before any type of referral can be made. CSU puts these requirements in place to separate those who need an emotional support animal from those who just want a pet.

     Next, the referral is sent to the Center for Accommodation and Access,located on the second floor of the Schuster Building. The person is then called in for a short interview to discuss why they are in need of an emotional support animal. The meeting itself does not take very long, and “those on staff are very understanding,” according to a student who has gone through the process.

     Before the person continues on to complete an actual ESA application for housing, they must coordinate with their prospective roommates to see if everyone is okay with having an animal in the dorm. This is done in case of any animal allergies or objections. The prospective ESA owner may need a private room, depending on their roommates’ allergies or objections.

     Once this is settled, students apply for an ESA in My Housing Portalfound on MyCSU under the “Quick Links” tab. The application itself should take no longer than five to ten minutes. After this is submitted, the applicant is then called in for a meeting with the Residence Life Coordinator of their housing area. Once their ESA has been acquired, they are walked through the rules and guidelines of having an animal within campus housing.

     Those rules and guidelines can be summed up by the following: animals must be cleaned up after properly, they are not allowed in the common area of the dorm, all shots must be finished before time of arrival, the animal must be in a carrier or on a leash at all times if outside of the dorm unit, and the ESA owner is responsible for any damages or disruptive behavior.

     The Center for Accommodation and Access works very closely with the ESA owner and campus housing throughout the entire process. This is to ensure that the person in need is given the best accommodation for their wellbeing and mental stability.

     The new ESA owner can then move into their dorm with their ESA. It is then up to that person to be a responsible owner, and to follow the rules and guidelines for having an animal in residential housing. These are the same rules as listed earlier. They can also be found in more detail on the Residence Life page on the CSU website.

     While there have been many students who have openly expressed their happiness with the ESA program, one student summed up the beneficiality of them perfectly. “This actually works for me,” says the student, “it’s like all I needed was my cat, and now I’m doing better than I have been; I love my child so much.”