Personal Finance

Here are the colleges that will allow you to bring furry friends

Key Points
  • Just 4 percent of colleges allow cats and dogs, according to an analysis of more than 1,000 schools and their pet policies.
  • Service dogs and emotional support animals are allowed everywhere, however.
  • There are a few dozen schools that will allow anyone to bring along their pet.
Two students with a golden retriever at the Nova Southeastern University campus in Davie, Fla.
Carl Juste | Miami Herald | TNS | Getty Images

If getting into college makes you nervous, imagine how your cat must feel. Her chances are slim.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, spent four days this month analyzing the pet policies at more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country.

The findings might bring down some dog tails.

Just 40 of the schools are pet friendly. In other words, 96 percent of the colleges do not allow these furry friends on their campuses.

There are some important exceptions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires schools to allow service animals on their campus. Such animals include trained dogs and miniature horses. And under the Fair Housing Act, colleges must permit service and emotional support animals in their dormitories.

Airlines are rethinking their emotional-support animal policies
Airlines are rethinking their emotional-support animal policies

College staff can ask you if the pet is indeed a service animal and what the pet has been trained to do. However, they cannot ask you to prove or explain your issue or disability, according to the ADA. For assistance animals that are not service animals — perhaps a cat is there to help you cope with depression, colleges may demand documentation from a doctor that there is in fact a real need.

Then there are a few dozen schools that allow dogs and cats for all students, although policies vary.

For example, Alfred State University has a list of breeds they don't accept (chihuahuas and pit bulls need not apply).

Meanwhile, Rice University warns: "Animals that disrupt the educational, research, administrative, or other core operations of the university must be immediately removed from the campus."

Kantrowitz collected some of the pet rules.

"Some colleges limit pets to residents who live in a single room without roommates," he writes, and, "Carnivorous fish may be prohibited."

And while your cat might be allowed in some places at the college, Kantrowitz said, "you probably cannot bring him with you to class."

Also, he said, students should be aware that they'll most likely be financially responsible for any trouble their dog or cat gets themselves into, such as leaving behind messes on the carpet or any other property damage. Of course, you should consider that having a pet, in general, can be expensive.

Colleges realize that a no-pet policy could come as a shock to many new students, he said.

"Some people grew up entirely with pets," Kantrowitz said, "And they'd feel very different to not have a cat or dog around them all the time."

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Most colleges accept fish, and many allow amphibians, reptiles and small, caged pets, such as hamsters and chinchillas, Kantrowitz writes.

It's dogs and cats that are in a tough spot.

Here are the schools welcoming them.