Frequently Asked Questions


How are supporting documents (transcripts and teacher recommendations) submitted as part of my Coalition Application?

To get official documents (transcript and recommendation letters) into your Locker, you will need to add the appropriate person as a contact (such as a guidance counselor or teacher). Once they are added as a contact, you can request the appropriate document.

In the “Official Documents” section, you may use the “Attach” feature to add these documents to your application so that they will be submitted to Columbia along with your application.

You can still submit your application even if your official documents are still in progress and not yet completed. Once your application has been submitted, you may cancel, change or resend requests directly from the “Official Documents” section.

How do I submit my Essay for the Coalition Application?

Columbia requires that applicants using the Coalition Application submit an essay, using the prompts and information found on their website. Students may upload their essay in the “Uploads” section found at the conclusion of the Columbia-specific questions to the Coalition Application. Please note that while the prompts and instructions can be reviewed at any time, the section to upload your completed essay is not accessible until the other Columbia-specific questions have been completed. 

What is my Coalition ID and where do I find it?

The Coalition Account ID is the identifying number that is unique to your Profile in the Coalition Application, and should be used when submitting any documents to our office. It is found both on the “Personal Information” page of the Profile as well as under “Account Settings.”

Are fee waivers available for the Coalition Application?

If paying the application fee is a significant financial burden for your family, we encourage you to request a fee waiver through your admission application. Students applying to Columbia through the Coalition Application will be able to determine their eligibility for the fee waiver by answering a brief series of questions while creating their Coalition profile; if your eligibility is established, the fee will be automatically waived when you submit your application.

More information about the parameters that Columbia uses to offer institution-specific fee waivers are outlined on our admissions website

Who should I contact if I have technical problems with the Coalition Application?

Should you require assistance with the Coalition Application, we encourage you to review their Frequently Asked Questions or submit a request to their Technical Support.

How do I submit supplementary materials for the Coalition Application?

Candidates submitting the Coalition Application should answer “Yes” to the questions indicating an interest in supplementary questions and should follow the directions that are listed. More information can be found on the Supplementary Materials page of our website. 

Can I share my Locker from the Coalition Application with an admissions officer?

Please do not share access to your Locker with any Columbia admissions officers, as we will only accept materials that are submitted as part of your application. Any additions or corrections to your application can be submitted to or via fax to (212) 854-3393.

Will Columbia have access to the virtual locker contents from the Coalition platform?

Columbia will not have access to the contents of a student’s virtual Locker, including both official documents and media. Students who are applying to Columbia using the Coalition Application will need to indicate which official documents (such as transcripts or recommendation letters) that are stored in the locker should be sent to Columbia as part of the review process. Columbia accepts supplementary materials as outlined on our website

What is the virtual locker for the Coalition Application?

The Locker offers a private space for students to collect and organize materials throughout their high school journey. Whether collecting thoughts on college options or storing classwork or personal writing, students can confidentially save documents that may be useful later in their college search or application. Students can maintain a record of their interests and activities, collect letters of support from instructors, coaches, or supervisors. More information about the Locker can be found on the Coalition’s website

How do I apply to Columbia using the Coalition Application?

Students can start Columbia’s application as part of the Coalition Application by searching for Columbia University in the “Colleges” tab and selecting “Start Application.” Please note that several sections of the Profile must be completed before the Columbia-specific questions may be started; any sections not yet completed will be highlighted in yellow. Some sections of the Profile are not required, as Columbia will review this information through supporting materials, such as the official transcript(s).

Columbia’s short answer questions can be found at the conclusion of the Columbia section of the Coalition Application.

Please note that the Columbia-specific questions must be completed in sequential order. More instructions regarding the Columbia-specific section of the Coalition Application can be found at the start of this section.

Is there a preference for the Common Application or the Coalition Application?

The Admissions Committee will apply the same holistic review process to evaluate candidates regardless of whether they submit the Coalition Application or the Common Application; there is no preference for one over the other. Please be aware that students must submit only one complete application, using either the Common Application or the Coalition Application.

Either the Common Application or the Coalition Application must be submitted by Columbia’s Early Decision deadline of November 1 or Regular Decision deadline of January 1.

What is the Coalition Application?

Columbia is a member of The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, which includes over 90 different public and private institutions of higher education coming together to improve the college admission application process for all students. The Coalition offers a free platform of online tools to streamline the experience of applying to college, including a college application. 

Does Columbia admit students who have not completed high school?

Prior to enrollment, students admitted to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering must submit documentation of completion of their high/secondary school requirements, which includes the final high school transcript with date of graduation. If applicable, International Baccalaureate, GCE Advanced Level or nationally recognized high school graduation examination results must also be provided. Transcripts should be sent directly from the high/secondary school. Alternatively, a GED or TASC credential with a passing score may be submitted.

If I took the SAT previously and the redesigned SAT, which scores should I send to Columbia? Can I “superscore” across exams?

If you are applying for Fall 2017 or Fall 2018 admission, results from the redesigned current SAT and/or the previous redesigned SAT will be accepted, with no preference for one or the other. When evaluating applicants, we will consider only the highest testing results reported from one version of the test, not across both versions.

Do I need to take the SAT Subject Tests for admission to Columbia?

No, the SAT Subject Test is not required, but Columbia will accept scores from the exams if you choose to submit them. You will not be at a disadvantage should you choose not to take the tests or submit the scores to Columbia.

Does Columbia prefer the ACT over the SAT or vice versa?

You may take either the ACT or SAT. Columbia does not view one more favorably than the other. If you take both tests, we will look at the highest score of the two.

I have completed scientific research during high school. How can I share this information in my application?

If you have been involved in scientific research and you are interested in studying engineering or the sciences at Columbia, you are welcome to provide a one or two page scientific abstract and/or a letter of recommendation from your research mentor for our review as a supplement to your application. You may upload your abstract in the Columbia Writing Supplement to the Common Application or in the Uploads section on the Coalition Application. Your research mentor can send the letter via e-mail to, via fax to 212-854-3393, or via mail to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Does Columbia work with third-party agents?

Columbia University does not work with any admissions agent who expects compensation from a college or university. 

Columbia’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions is pleased to work directly with applicants and their families, with their school officials, and with a variety of government and non-profit community-based organizations in the United States and abroad.  While we respect the work of independent educational consultants, we of course expect them to adhere to the highest standards of professional ethics.

My country has mandatory military or other national service. How does that affect the timing of my application to Columbia?

It is your choice whether to apply during your final year of secondary school or during your obligatory service, but keep in mind that first-year students may enter Columbia only in September. You may prefer to apply to Columbia while you are still in secondary school and you have your counselors and teachers near at hand when you are arranging for transcripts, recommendations and other credentials to be submitted; if you are admitted, then we will grant a deferment of your entry to Columbia so that you may perform your mandatory service. On the other hand, you may wish to apply during your time of service in case it brings you additional self-awareness and life experiences that you feel may make your candidacy more compelling.

If you apply to Columbia during your final year of secondary school and are not admitted, then you may apply again during your obligatory service. That is permitted only if you are not holding a place at another college or university anywhere in the world.

When are Mid-Year Reports due?

Please have your school submit the Mid-Year Report as soon as first quarter or first trimester grades are available if you are an Early Decision candidate; for Regular Decision candidates, as soon as first semester or second trimester grades are available. We will accept the documents either electronically or in paper form via postal mail or fax.

We request that Mid-Year Report/senior grades are submitted by February 1, or as soon as they are available. If you have completed high/secondary school at the time of application, it is not necessary to send in new documents.

We do not track Mid-Year Reports/senior grades through the online tracking system.

How do I track the status of my application?

Admissions online document tracking is only available during certain times in the admissions process. 

If, at that time, you discover that any items are listed as “not received/processed,” please have the school submit a duplicate copy of this missing information to us via fax or via email at as soon as possible. Faxed/emailed materials will take up to one week for processing. You will have time to submit the missing credentials before decisions are released without being penalized.

According to our Application Instructions, we will consider a file complete with only one Teacher Evaluation on file.

We do not track Midyear Reports/senior grades or additional materials.

How much is tuition?

For the academic year 2016-2017, the breakdown of educational costs is as follows:

Tuition and Fees: $55,056

Room and Board: $13,244

Books and Personal Expenses: $3,285

Estimated total cost of attendance: $72,110

Additionally, first-year students are assessed a one-time orientation and transcript fee of approximately $525. The purchase of medical insurance is also required for all students who do not have comparable coverage.

How can I get a paper application for transfer admissions?

Paper applications are not available. Transfers must apply online using The Common Application. We do not accept the Coalition Application for transfer candidates.

I am unsure of my application status. How do I know if I should apply as freshman or as a transfer?

If you have received your high (secondary) school diploma and will have completed one or more full year of college courses, you must apply as a transfer student. If you are applying to Columbia College and have taken a break of more than one full year from college, you should submit an application to the School of General Studies. Applicants to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science should proceed with this transfer application regardless of any break in schooling.

I have already earned a Bachelors degree (or its equivalent). Am I eligible to apply to Columbia if I would like to earn a second degree?

You are not eligible to apply to Columbia College. Instead, you must apply to the School of General Studies. Applicants to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science should proceed with your application.

What is the deadline for applications?

Early Decision: November 1, 2016
Regular Decision: January 1, 2017
Transfer Admission: March 1, 2017
Visiting Student Program: October 15, 2016 (for spring admission); March 15, 2017 (for fall admission).
Combined Plan Program: February 15, 2017

Online applications must be submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. (your local time), the day of the deadline.

What is the Early Decision program for first-year applicants?

If you are willing to make a binding commitment to Columbia as your first choice, you may apply under the Early Decision Program.

What is the process for being selected through the Higher Education Opportunity Program or the National Opportunity Program?

The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) was established by the New York State Legislature in 1969 to assist eligible residents in obtaining higher education at New York private institutions. The National Opportunity Program was created by Columbia in 1986 to provide the same kind of academic and financial support to students from all over the United States. Selection for the HEOP/NOP programs at Columbia involves meeting both academic and economic guidelines.

There are no additional application forms for HEOP/NOP; all eligible applicants to Columbia will be considered for these programs, but applicants may be contacted for an interview.

In order to be eligible for HEOP, applicants must:

  • Reside in New York State and be high school graduates.
  • Demonstrate (through academic records) a need for HEOP support services.
  • Meet economic eligibility criteria set by the New York State Education Department.

Economic documentation for HEOP/NOP

HEOP Economic Eligibility: Household income can be at or below the amounts listed for the number of family members, with the exception of the “single head of household” instruction.

Size of Household


1 household member$21,590
2 household members$29,101
3 household members$36,612
4 household members$44,123
5 household members$51,634
6 household members$59,145
7 household members$66,656 plus $7,511 for each additional family member thereafter

The primary criterion for admission to NOP is academic; there is no residency requirment and Columbia may select applicants for admission to NOP whose income levels exceed the HEOP criteria.

Although many of our NOP students demonstrate significant financial need, Columbia financial aid is determined on a case by case basis and we meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants admitted as first-year students. There are no academic, athletic or talent-based institutional scholarships at Columbia as all of our institutional financial aid is need-based.

Students can estimate their eligibility for need-based financial aid by using the Net Price Calculator.

Please contact the Academic Success Program at 212-854-3514 or with further questions or concerns.

What is Columbia's policy on the submission of supplementary materials (i.e. musical recording, artistic portfolio, science abstract, etc.)?

While we request that the submission of supplementary credentials be kept to a minimum, there may be occasions where such credentials provide valuable information that the standard application does not. As a result, some recommendations are detailed below. If you plan to submit supplementary credentials, please follow the instructions below. Please note that we specifically ask that you do not send collections of award certificates and the like and explicitly direct that you refrain from submitting your application in binders or folders.

Science and Engineering

If you have been involved in scientific research and you are interested in studying engineering or the sciences at Columbia, you are welcome to provide a 1-2 page scientific abstract or a letter of recommendation from your research mentor for our review as a supplement to your application. You may upload your abstract in the Writing Supplement of the Common Application. Your research mentor can send the letter via email to, via fax to 212-854-3393, or via mail to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Creative and Performing Arts

Please follow the directions below depending on your area of interest:

Musical Performance

Students who wish to submit supplements in these fields should indicate their intention to submit a supplement on their application. On the Common Application, please indicate your intention to submit an arts supplement in Columbia’s member questions; you will then be provided a link to begin your supplement.


Audio materials will be accepted as .mp3 files. Composition scores may be submitted as .pdf files. A processing fee of $5 will be required at the time of submission. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver.

We ask that students select two works contrasting in period and tempo, and choose from one of three possible types of submissions:

  • orchestral instruments (specify instrument);
  • jazz (specify instrument or composition);
  • piano, voice, non-orchestral instruments (e.g. classical guitar) or composition (score or recording of score).

We require that students also list the composer, title of the work and movement title or opus number. The total length of recordings should not exceed 20 minutes and should not include any biographical or introductory material.

Students may submit two music supplements only when their talent is equally impressive in two different areas within music performance or composition. 

Live auditions are not part of the admissions process, but auditions for private lessons and selective ensembles are held for enrolled students at the start of each academic year.

Columbia College candidates applying to the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange should submit materials so that Columbia faculty may assess their talent and potential.

Visual Arts

Digital images will be accepted as .jpg, .gif or .png files, up to 5 MB each. Students submitting a visual arts supplement should select up to 20 digital images that highlight the best work in their portfolio. Live portfolio reviews are not part of the admissions process. 

A processing fee of $10 will be required at the time of submission. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver.


Videos of dance accomplishments will be accepted as .m4v, .mov, .mp4, .wmv, .flv, .asf, .mpeg, .mpg or .mkv file, no more than 250MB and between four and six minutes in length. We require that students also list their name, title of the piece, choreographer, composer/music title, and place and date of performance. Students should also submit a professional resume listing their dance achievements in addition to a video.

Live auditions are not part of the admissions process, but auditions for various dance troupes are held for enrolled students at the start of each academic year.

A processing fee of $10 will be required at the time of submission. SlideRoom fee waivers are automatically provided for all applicants receiving a Common Application fee waiver. 

Architecture, Creative Writing, Drama and Theatre Arts and Film

Applicants may upload professional resumes that list artistic achievement in the Columbia Writing Supplement to the Common Application. There is no need to create a SlideRoom profile. 

When do application decisions become available?

The Columbia community is committed to environmental responsibility; in keeping with this commitment, we will provide some admissions decisions only online, not via regular mail. Applicants will receive specific instructions as to how to check their decisions online before decisions are released.

Admission decisions for first-year candidates who apply Early Decision are typically available on or before December 15.

Admission decisions for first-year candidates who apply Regular Decision are typically available on or before April 1.

Admission decisions for transfer candidates are typically available on or before May 15.

Admissions decisions for Combined Plan Program candidates are available in mid April.

Admissions decisions for Visiting Student Program candidates are typically available on or before May 15 (fall applicants) or December 15 (spring applicants).