Frequently Asked Questions

Early Decision

Are international students allowed to apply Early Decision?

Yes. However, even very competitive foreign candidates who are applying for financial aid and fall out of the “need-blind” category may be deferred to Regular Decision so the Admissions Committee can review the entire global applicant pool.

Will my financial aid package be any different if I apply for admission under the Early Decision Program?

No. Some families may think that their chances for financial aid might be worse when applying early, or that they should not ask for financial aid in the Early Decision process. Please be reassured that both Early and Regular Decision processes are need-blind and that financial aid packages are not any more or less comprehensive in the Early Decision process. Columbia College and The Fu Foundation of Engineering and Applied Science award need-based financial aid to all admitted first-year students.

We know Early Decision candidates have made Columbia their first choice, and we make every effort to help these families finance a Columbia education. If, after receiving the estimated Early Decision financial aid offer, an admitted student’s family has concerns about meeting the expected family contribution, we encourage the family to contact the Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing and speak with one of our counselors.

Can I be released from my Early Decision contract because of my financial aid package?

It is extremely rare for a family to ask to be released from the Early Decision commitment for financial reasons. If a family determines after discussion with the Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing that they cannot afford to finance a Columbia education, the admitted candidate can be released from the Early Decision agreement. The family must speak with a financial aid officer before the release is granted. Ultimately, it is the family’s decision whether or not they feel capable of accepting the need-based Columbia financial aid award.

Those who do opt out of their Early Decision contract are released to pursue other colleges and universities; the admission offer at Columbia University is then cancelled. A candidate who declines Columbia’s Early Decision offer will not be allowed to reconsider Columbia’s financial aid estimate in the spring Regular Decision cycle and will not be able to reinstate the original offer of admission.

May I apply Early Decision if I am interested in the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange?

Yes, first-year candidates admitted to Columbia College under Early Decision may keep their candidacy open for the Exchange. However, successful Early Decision candidates must withdraw their Bachelor of Music candidacy to Juilliard along with candidacy to all other institutions as part of the Early Decision binding agreement.

What are the final test dates that can be used for the application?

Early Decision candidates

The November test date is the latest acceptable test date on which scores may reach us in time. More information about Early Decision.

Regular Decision candidates

Scores for January tests are generally received in time for consideration, but it is strongly advisable to take testing no later than December. Testing taken in February or later cannot be considered.

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.

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).

Are my chances for admission greater if I apply Early Decision?

Although a larger percentage of the Early Decision applicant pool is admitted than of the Regular Decision pool, that higher acceptance rate reflects the remarkable strength of a self-selected group of applicants. A candidate to whom we otherwise would not offer admission is not going to be accepted simply because he or she applied under the Early Decision program.

We strongly urge you to apply under the Early Decision program if and only if Columbia is your first choice.

Does Columbia allow early admission for high school juniors?

Early admission is occasionally granted to students of special promise who are completing the junior year of secondary/high school and who meet the following requirements:

  1. an outstanding academic record
  2. the physical, intellectual and emotional maturity to handle the rigorous program at Columbia
  3. the full endorsement of their secondary/high schools.

Applicants for early admission should follow the normal procedure in applying, but should indicate they are applying for early admission under the “Additional Information” section of the Common Application.

What does it mean if I am “deferred” from the Early Decision applicant pool?

A small number of Early Decision applicants receive notification that we are deferring a final admission decision until April. Their applications will be reviewed and evaluated again among the Regular Decision applicant pool. Those Early Decision candidates whose applications are deferred to Regular Decision and who subsequently are offered admission in April are not then bound by any commitment to enroll at Columbia.