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Frequently Asked Questions About NetIDs

Getting a NetID

Using Your NetID

NetID Passwords

Email and NetIDs

More about NetIDs

Other ID types

Getting a NetID

What is a NetID?

A Network ID (or NetID) is a personal, unique identifier assigned to you. It consists of your initials followed by one or more numbers. You use it, along with a password, to obtain access to online services, such as email and administrative systems.

A password is required with your NetID to ensure that no one but you can access your confidential Cornell information. Your NetID and password also give you access to services that are exclusive to the Cornell community.

Who is eligible for a NetID?

NetIDs are issued to members of the Cornell community and affiliates. A single individual can have only one NetID.

Members of the Cornell community are students, faculty, staff and alumni. The faculty and staff category includes full-time and part-time faculty; visiting faculty; professors emeriti; full-time, part-time, and temporary staff; and retirees who are receiving Cornell benefits. The student category includes part-time extramural students, summer session students, and distance learning students enrolled in credit-earning courses.

Note: Faculty, staff, and students at Weill Cornell Medical College can be issued a NetID if they need access to online services offered on the Ithaca campus. A NetID may be requested by emailing the IT Service Desk.

Affiliates are employees of institutions affiliated with Cornell University. These institutions are:

  • Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
  • Campus Club at Cornell
  • Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy
  • Cornell Alumni Federation (publishes Cornell Magazine)
  • Cornell Compact
  • Cornell United Religious Work
  • Cornell University Veterinary Specialists
  • Military Sciences and their officers (including ROTC)
  • Paleontological Research Institute
  • Public Service Center
  • ROTC
  • Telluride Association
  • U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Lab
  • Weill Cornell Medical College

Sponsored NetIDs are intended for use with contractors or other individuals who are not directly affiliated with Cornell but have a business purpose for needing access to Cornell services or systems. See the How to page for detailed instructions.

Associates are graduates of the School of Hotel Administration's professional development programs. At the discretion of the Hotel School, NetIDs are issued to these graduates after the conclusion of the January and summer programs.

When do new students receive their NetID?

New students receive their NetID and activation code beginning in early April. During the activation process, they are introduced to policies governing the use of Cornell’s computing resources. They also activate their Cornell email address, set their NetID password, and choose their password security questions.

Students who don't receive their NetID before they arrive on campus, or during registration, should visit the IT Service Desk, 119 Computing and Communications Center (CCC), or call 607 255-5500. The IT Service Desk walk-in hours are Monday-Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, and call-in hours are from 6 am to 6 pm. Students must have a valid Cornell ID to get a NetID.

When do new staff and faculty members receive their NetID?

New faculty and staff receive their NetIDs as part of the employment process.

I was just hired and was given a new NetID, but I already have one. What should I do?

Your department's HR representative should contact the IT Service Desk and explain the situation. The IT Service Desk will connect your Employee ID to your existing NetID and delete the new NetID. You can continue using your existing NetID. This will be easier if you do not activate the new NetID.

I am a Cornell alumnus. Can I get a NetID?

Yes -- in fact, you may already have one. Anyone who attended Cornell since 1990 should have a NetID. Also, Cornell began issuing NetIDs to all alumni in February 2007. You can check by searching for your name in the Cornell directory.

If you know your NetID but need an activation code to set your password, or if you have not been issued a NetID, please complete the request form provided by Alumni Affairs and Development.

I had a NetID once, but then I left Cornell. Now I'm back. Will I get the same NetID?

Yes. Your NetID is a part of your permanent university record, and will never be assigned to another person.

Can I get a NetID for my spouse and/or children?

No. NetIDs are only available to individuals directly affiliated with Cornell University. Unless your family members are independently associated with Cornell, we cannot offer them NetIDs.

I am not on campus. How can I get a NetID without coming to Ithaca?

Contact the IT Service Desk to begin the process. The Service Desk will let you know the options and what information you will need to provide.  For contact information, visit

How was my NetID created?

Your NetID was created from the initials of your name, as it appears in the university database, followed by a number. If you are a student, the database used is the University Registrar's Student Information System (SIS). If you are a staff or faculty member, the database used is the Human Resources System.

Can I change my NetID?

Yes, but only for a few reasons:

  • Your NetID was created incorrectly as a result of a data entry error made by the university.
  • There is a personal safety issue related to the continued use of your NetID.
  • Your legal name has been changed. (Your NetID can be changed only after you have submitted your name change request to Human Resources (if you're an employee) or the University Registrar (if you're a student) and they have processed your request.)

To request that your NetID be changed, email stating the reason for the change.

Using Your NetID

What services does my NetID give me access to?

Having a Cornell NetID does not, in and of itself, give you access to information or services. It simply serves as an identifier that can be used to authorize your access to services you are entitled to use.

  • Current faculty, staff, and students: please see CIT’s IT at Cornell pages
  • Alumni: please see the NetIDs page from Alumni Affairs and Development
  • Affiliates: please check with the technical support provider in your department or unit
  • Sponsored NetIDs: please check with the department or unit offering the services you would like to access

What do I need my NetID for if I don't have a computer?

Even if you use your NetID for nothing else, students need it for Enrollment and Student Center, and faculty and staff need it for Workday. Faculty and staff, as well as affiliates, also need a NetID in order to maintain their individual listings in the Cornell University Telephone Directory and Cornell Electronic Directory.

Some information about you is automatically entered in these directories so that people can contact you. It is your responsibility to update this information, add optional information, or indicate if you want some information to remain unpublished.

You can use computers in CIT's computer labs and in many libraries. Several colleges and departments also run computer labs that may be available for your use. There are also Student Center kiosk computers at multiple locations.

What happens to my access to services when I leave the university?

Cornell ties what services you can access to the role or relationship that you have with the university. CIT works with the offices of record, sponsors, and service providers to adjust privileges when your role or relationship changes. 

For detailed information, see What Happens When You Leave.

Please remember that your access can be terminated with no notice for violations of the university policies on responsible use of computer systems. Therefore it is very important to know and understand these policies.

NetID Passwords

Is it OK to let my family, close friends, supervisor, manager, or co-workers use my NetID and password?

No. Your NetID is for your exclusive personal use. If someone has your NetID and password, he or she can look up and/or change personal and confidential information about you, including your benefits package, your tax information, your grades, your web page, your address, and your emergency contact information. He or she could read your email, and send email from your address pretending to be you. He or she could also commit computer crimes through your account, and you could be held responsible for any damages that result. 

For those reasons and others, it is a violation of university policy to share your NetID and password with your family, your roommate, your supervisor, or your office's computer support staff. There is no reason for anyone else to know your password, despite what he or she tells you.

You are the only person who should ever use your NetID and password!

Likewise, you should never use anyone else's NetID and password, even if the owner says that it is okay!

I have a problem with my password (I forgot it, or I never set one in the first place, or the system won't accept it or won't let me change it). What should I do?

Passwords are kept in an encrypted database, and cannot be looked up by anyone.

If you set up your password's security questions in advance, you can go to the Manage Your NetID web page to set a new password.

If you did not set up your password's security questions, you will need to request a new activation code so that you can reset your password. To make this request, you will need to visit the IT Service Desk ( in person, or set up a video chat. You will need to provide proof of identity -- your Cornell ID card or your valid government-issued photo ID card (such as a driver's license or passport).

As soon as you have reset your password, you should consider setting up your password's security questions on the Manage Your NetID web page so that if you have trouble with your password again, you can set a new password yourself.

Why do I have to choose a complex password for my NetID?

Your NetID and password control access to highly confidential data, some of which requires protection mandated by federal legislation. Tools for cracking simple passwords are readily available, so it is essential that your NetID password be strong to prevent unauthorized individuals from discovering it.

Complex passwords are akin to deadbolt locks on a door. Just as deadbolt locks are far more effective than standard locks in preventing break-ins, so are complex passwords far superior to simple passwords in protecting access to your information.

In 2002, the university auditor recommended that CIT implement technical measures to ensure that users choose secure NetID passwords. The criteria for what constitutes a secure password were developed as a result, along with the web-based method for selecting a password.

Email and NetIDs

What is my email address?

Once you have a NetID and you have set a mail account using Who I Am, people can email you using the form For example, if your NetID is ewe2, people can email you at This is how your electronic mail address is listed in the Cornell Electronic Directory.

Can I create a custom email address?

Possibly. The Cornell Optional Email Alias service allows eligible individuals to create a Cornell email address based on their name. (Who is eligible?) That new address will take the form of an alias plus "" For example, The optional alias does not replace your NetID or your address. Email sent to the alias or to your NetID address is delivered to your NetID account.

If you have a legitimate need for a separate email address for a university department or registered student organization, you may apply for an Exchange Group Account (formerly known as a special mailbox).

I don't want to mix my personal and departmental email. Can I get a second NetID?

No. An individual can have only one NetID. If you need a separate email address for a university department or a registered student organization, you may apply for an Exchange Group Account (formerly known as a special mailbox).

More about NetIDs

Is there more information available about NetIDs?

Yes. These links provide more information about safe computing practices, policies regarding the use of NetIDs and Cornell's computing services, and more.

University Policy 5.8, Authentication of Information Technology Resources

Information Technology Rights and Responsibilities

Other ID Types

Are there any other types of IDs in use on campus?

Yes, the following are also in use:

  • GuestID, which allows users who are not eligible for a NetID to access certain services.
  • ApplicantID, which is assigned to Cornell applicants.
  • WCMC CWID, the ID for Weill Cornell Medical College.

In addition, visitors from institutions that participate in eduroam can sign in to Cornell campus eduroam secure Wi-Fi using their home institution login and password.

Didn't find the answer to your question?

  • Please visit the IT Service Desk at 607 255-5500, 119 CCC, Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (phone hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the academic year).
  • For help accessing Cornell's online services with your computer or from your location, check Getting Online at Cornell.

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