A 1981 Columbia University student ID card identifies Barack Obama as a foreign student named Barry Soetoro.
Numerous rumors have been circulated over the years claiming that Barack Obama attended college in the United States as a foreign student and/or under the name Barry Soetoro (the latter reflecting the surname of his Indonesian stepfather), evidence which would supposedly demonstrate that at some point in his life Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen and is therefore ineligible to hold the office of President of the United States. An image displayed here of a purported 1981 Columbia University student ID card identifying Barack Obama as a “foreign student” named “Barry Soetoro” is yet another entry in this vein:
However, the ID card pictured above is not a real Columbia University student ID issued to Barack Obama (under any name) in 1981; it’s simply an altered version of a Columbia University ID card issued to another student in 1998:
Additionally, the pictured card couldn’t possibly have have been a Columbia University student ID issued to Barack Obama in 1981, as the digital ID card format it uses wasn’t introduced at Columbia until 1996.
Finally, the pictured ID card is obviously a forgery, as the photograph it bears is not a picture of a 20-year-old Barack Obama from 1981; it’s a picture taken several years later, during or shortly after Barack Obama’s time at Harvard Law School (1988-1991).
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.