The CUID or Columbia University ID (not to be confused with the Cornell University ID) is the official ID card for Columbia students and faculty. It prominently features the ugly mug shot you sent in over the summer before your freshmen year unless you lose it and ask for a new shot with the replacement card. However, Alma Mater gets more real estate on the card than your face. Saving grace?
In the summer of 2007 Student Services announced that they would be rolling out new secure ID cards during the fall semester.  As of August 13, 2007, all new cards issued by the ID center are the new cards.
The first all-in-one CUID issued in 1996 featured a now rarely used version of the Columbia Crown. A subsequent design prominently featured Alma Mater. CUIDs issued during the 2003-2004 term also featured the ever-present CU250 branding crown on the ID. The design was discontinued at the end of that year. In 2007 the ID center switched designs again. Columbia University and affiliated institutions will be moving to identical ID design layouts, with each institution's card bearing a school-specific image on the left border of the card in addition to the school's name across the top.
In 2012, yet another new design was introduced "[t]o make the University ID card consistent with the current visual identity.". The changed only applied to the Morningside (and Manhattanville) campuses—CUMC, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and other affiliates were not affected.
Several CUID functions require that you have one of several stickers on your ID. A valid term sticker is required for events like Passport to New York and entrance to the many museums in New York. Keep this term sticker up to date by getting a new one each term from the ID Center in 204 Kent Hall. If it peels off, go get a new one.
In addition, students living on campus will need a building sticker denoting their campus residence. This sticker allows guests to be signed in, and (in theory but never in practice) allows a resident to enter his or her building if the electronic swipe system is down. Replacement stickers can be obtained at the Hospitality Desk in the lobby of Hartley Hall.
Back when they had the old ID design, students would go on their 21st birthday to the ID Center and request an over-21 replacement ID and be issued a new ID for free with a bright red stripe where it says 'student.' There is no longer any evidence of age on the IDs.
Also, you can get a free replacement if your ID gets worn out.
Students returning to Columbia in a new program (e.g. coming back as a grad student) are expected to turn in their old ID Card or pay a $15 fee for their "replacement" new ID.
- Redeeming meal plans at John Jay Dining Hall and Hewitt Dining Hall.
- Paying with Dining Dollars at Dining Services on-campus dining locations and vending machines.
- Paying with Flex or Dining Dollars at the Columbia University Bookstores.
- Paying for laundry in the laundry rooms of the CC/SEAS residence halls.
- Your CUID used to function as an over-21 ID on campus.
- Swiping into Columbia's restricted access buildings. Depending on your privileges, these may include CC/SEAS residence halls, Dodge Physical Fitness Center, and the libraries.
- Signing friends into your own residence hall, but not any others.
- Swiping into Lerner Hall.
- Swiping into IAB, at any hour of day or night. This is convenient to access the many IAB vending machines, or to take a shortcut to East Campus or Wien when you're walking south on Amsterdam Avenue.
- Getting into most of the major New York City museums for free via Passport to New York.
- Getting into Bobst Library at NYU.
- Getting into all Columbia athletics events for free.
What it's not good for
- Swiping into Barnard College dormitories, unless you live in one, like Plimpton.
- Getting into academic buildings, except IAB, at night unless you have special access
- Getting you laid.
Secure Identity and Access Control Project
In 2004 the University created a task force to explore an overhaul of the CUID system in order to protect private information of students, such as their Social Security numbers which had once been the primary ID numbers embedded in the system, and allow the flexibility to use the system for off-campus purchasing. The University had been aware of the security problem since 2003.
With approval from the Trustees, the overhaul plan was announced in October of 2005 with a timeline calling for implementation by New Year's 2008.  Shockingly, the University made its deadline, with complete overhaul completed by the end of 2007. The "Secure Identity and Access Control" project, a $6 million undertaking by Student Services (which oversees the ID Center), replaced SSNs with University-assigned randomized ID numbers. In addition, the new cards incorporate a magnetic wire allowing the University the option of replacing swipe boxes around campuses to "proximity boxes," which allow cardholders to tap instead of swiping.
The University will be overhauling its database system as well, allowing students to register guests online rather than in person.
Once all 80,000 students, faculty, and staff were issued new ID cards, the off-campus flex plan became feasible.
According to Lisa Hogarty, in 2007 the executive vice president of Student & Administrative Services, "What most universities have done is just taken the Social Security number off the card. Once we finish this project, Columbia will be best in class." Considering that Columbia was among the last Ivy schools to address the SSN-related security concerns, and that peer schools have had Flex type programs and proximity-box based access systems for years, the statement sounds a bit like self-congratulatory back-slapping and begs the question, "Well what the hell took so long?"
- All-Purpose IDs to Offer One-Card Convenience - The Record 1- 2-2-96 -- Vol. 21, No. 15
- Columbia Rolls out More Secure IDs - The Spectator 8-1-07
- Security Hole Means Flex Wont Move Off Campus Yet The Spectator 9-21-04
- New University Plan Aims To Protect Students' IDs - The Spectator 10-31-05
- CUID's to Come in Late '07 - The Spectator 3-7-07
- University Removes Social Security Numbers From ID Cards, Columbia Spectator, 7 September 2007.