Frequently Asked Questions

International Financial Aid

Can international families apply for financial aid in future years if they do not apply the first year?

If you are a foreign student or transfer student who is admitted without institutional financial aid, you are not guaranteed institutional financial aid even if there is a change in circumstances. If you are a US citizen or a US permanent resident, you apply for financial aid every year, and you may be eligible for aid in later years. A family that experiences a change in circumstances may apply for financial aid at any time. For example, it is not uncommon for a family to suffer a job loss or illness or for a younger sibling to begin attending college. Please note, however, that institutional aid will usually be awarded only in cases that involve an involuntary change in circumstances. Parents who decide to retire early or to invest in a business start-up may not be awarded institutional aid. It is a good idea to include a letter describing your family’s change in circumstances with any new financial aid application.

What forms/documents are required for financial aid consideration?

Please visit Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing website to see a complete listing of all forms required and the appropriate deadlines.

Can families apply for financial aid in future years if they do not apply the first year?

Yes, under certain circumstances. A family that experiences a change in circumstances may apply for financial aid at any time. For example, it is not uncommon for a family to suffer a job loss or illness or for a younger sibling to begin attending college. Please note, however, that institutional aid will usually be awarded only in cases that involve an involuntary change in circumstances. Parents who decide to retire early or to invest in a business start-up may not be awarded institutional aid. It is a good idea to include a letter describing your family’s change in circumstances with any new financial aid application.

Please note: foreign students and transfer students who were admitted without institutional financial aid are not guaranteed institutional financial aid even if there is a change in circumstances.

Is there a different application for international students?

Columbia’s admissions application process is largely the same for all students regardless of their citizenship or country of residence. Please see our Application Instructions for more information on procedures and requirements, and What Does Columbia Look For for more information about how our office reviews applications and distinguishes candidates.

Please visit the International Student Admissions webpage for more information.

Will my chances for admission be affected if I apply for financial aid?

All applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States or students granted refugee visas by the United States are read in a need-blind manner, no matter where they attend school or where they reside. The term “need-blind” means financial need has no bearing on the admissions decision. All other applicants are evaluated in a need-aware manner, which means that the admissions committee takes into consideration how much financial aid a student requires when rendering an admissions decision. Columbia admits a large number of foreign students who receive a substantial amount of financial aid.

Columbia is committed to meeting the full need of all applicants admitted as first-year students for all four years of study, regardless of citizenship.

As a foreign student, you should determine what amount you feel you and your family could afford to pay each year for four years of study. If you conclude that you and your family will be unable to assume the estimated total cost of attendance, you should apply for financial aid at the same time you apply for admission. If you are traveling to Columbia from another country, you will also want to consider travel expenses. If you do not apply for financial aid at the time of applying, you cannot be considered for financial aid in the future unless there has been a drastic and unforeseeable change in your family’s circumstances.

The Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing website has information for foreign students interested in applying Early Decision and Regular Decision.