Frequently Asked Questions

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Are Kosher dining options available for students?

Yes. There are two Kosher Dining Plans available:

1. Columbia University Kosher Dining Plan

Students may elect to participate in the Kosher Dining Plan for an additional 10% fee. This allows access to a restricted kosher area within John Jay Dining Hall that serves a full array of kosher items (Freshko sandwiches, salads and snacks).

2. Barnard College Kosher Dining Plan

The Barnard College Kosher Dining Plan provides 3 kosher meals a day, 7 days a week. High quality food, including freshly-made pizza and a great salad bar, is conveniently located in Barnard’s main dining facility, Hewitt Hall. Both Barnard and Columbia students can enjoy their meals in comfort with the rest of the student population. The Kosher dining plan is strictly supervised k’halakhah by the Columbia/Barnard Hillel Rabbi. Additionally, the Barnard Kosher Dining Plan provides a homey atmosphere for Shabbat, Yom Tov and other festive occasions. For more information, please contact Barnard Dining Services.

Is housing guaranteed for students at Columbia?

Yes, students are guaranteed housing for up to 8 terms during their time at Columbia. Over 95% of undergraduate students and 100% of the Class of 2016 live on campus.

Where do transfer students live?

All transfer students are housed with their class in upperclass residence halls. Assignment is based on seniority and building preference with applications processed on a rolling basis. Students are notified by email when rooms are assigned.

Are students required to be on a Dining Plan?

All first-year students are required to be on a Dining Plan, but enrollment after the first year is optional. 

Where can students eat on campus?

Students can use their Dining Plan at John Jay Dining Hall, Ferris Booth Commons and JJ’s Place. They may use Dining Dollars, Flex, cash or credit card at any of the on-campus dining locations. You can view the list of locations and hours of operation online.

I received a B- in a required prerequisite class. Do I still qualify for guaranteed admission?

For students who began at an affiliate school in fall 2011 or later, the minimum grade for each pre-engineering prerequisite course must be a B (3.0) on the first attempt. As a B- is less than a B on a 4.0 scale, receiving a B- or less would preclude a student from guaranteed admission, and would put the student in our competitive review process. Students who began at an affiliate school prior to fall 2011, there are no minimum grade requirements for guaranteed admission.

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.

Does Columbia have any special internship programs?

The Center for Career Education is constantly developing new internship programs in order to expand opportunities for students and respond to new interests.

One program specific to Columbia is the Columbia Arts Experience that connects undergraduates interested in career in the arts with internships in those fields.

The Columbia University Internship (CU In) Program offers undergraduate students high-quality internship experiences in a diverse array of industries in Los Angeles and San Francisco through alumni and employer partnerships.

Columbia Communities in Action (CCIA) provides selected students with a New York-based internship in the local community in order to gain the necessary skills and experience to make a difference in the community.

When are tours and information sessions offered?

Tours and information sessions are offered throughout the year on a varying schedule. For the majority of the year, information sessions that are approximately one-hour long begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and are followed by the general tour at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Please consult the Visit section of this site for specific information on the day that you choose to visit.

Does Columbia perform any outreach efforts away from New York?

Columbia has a presence around the world through our outreach efforts. Prospective students will be able to meet current admissions officers at local high school visits, college fairs, community-based organization sessions, Introduction to Columbia information programs and at information sessions offered jointly by Columbia and other colleges. Our efforts are supplemented by members of our Alumni Representative Committee who attend college fairs and other events on Columbia’s behalf. Please go to Columbia Visits You for more information on upcoming programs around the world.

What is Joint Travel?

Joint Travel refers to information sessions offered in conjunction with other universities. These give students the opportunity to hear from multiple universities so they can form a better understanding of which school represent the best fit for their intellectual and personal goals. Currently, Columbia participates in joint travel with Brown University, Cornell University, Rice University and the University of Chicago; this travel group is known as Exploring Educational Excellence. 

I do not think I can visit Columbia. Is there a way in which I can get a sense of the campus?

We provide an virtual tour that allows prospective students and families throughout the world to gain a better understanding of campus. The tour is led by Columbia students who describe academic and student life on Columbia’s historic Morningside Heights campus in the middle of New York City.

My family does not speak English. Does Columbia provide information in other languages?

Columbia provides self-guided walking tours in five other languages to accommodate families that do not speak English. Copies of these self-guided walking tours are available in the Visitor Center.

Are there information sessions offered in my country, and where can I find the schedule of such events?

You can determine if Columbia will be visiting a location near you by reviewing Columbia Visits You.

How can I find out if Columbia will be visiting my town?

Columbia admissions officers travel to various parts of the country and the world throughout the year, but the majority of our travel occurs during the fall. If you want to know if Columbia will be visiting a location near you, please visit the Columbia Visits You page.

I am interested in speaking with a faculty member, is this possible?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions works closely with faculty and we collaborate for both admissions review and in outreach to admitted students. As prospective students, we encourage you to direct specific academic questions to Admissions at ugrad-ask@columbia.edu.

I am interested in athletics at Columbia. How do I arrange a meeting with a coach?

Please visit the Columbia Athletics website, search for the sport you are interested in, and click on “Recruit” to complete the form that will be sent to the team’s coaches.

Does Columbia provide support for students who have unpaid internships?

Columbia strongly believes that students should be able to follow their passions and experience jobs and opportunities that will lead them toward their professional goals. Columbia supports students with unpaid internships in two distinct ways. First, The Work Exemption Program (WEP) is part of the financial aid program for undergraduate students in Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The program is designed to enable financial aid recipients to take advantage of such unpaid opportunities as internships, research projects, and community outreach, locally, nationally, and internationally. Students have the option of applying for exemption from the summer savings portion of their financial aid package or exemptions from Federal Work Study during the academic year. Secondly, all students at Columbia are encouraged to apply for the Alumni Internship Fund administered by the Center for Career Education (CCE). CCE also offers an array of alternative funding sources for students that may help fund a summer internship or fellowship.

What is the percentage of students who live on campus?

Columbia undergraduate students are guaranteed housing for all four years. Nearly all undergraduates live on campus all four years and first-year students are required to live on campus.

How many students live on campus?

Columbia undergraduate students are guaranteed housing for all four years. Nearly all undergraduates live on campus all four years.

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.

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.

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.

Does Columbia accept international transfer students?

To apply as a transfer, you must be enrolled in a “U.S.-style” college or university. A college or university is considered U.S.-style if:

  • courses are offered term by term (quarters, semesters, etc.);
  • a grade is given for each course in each term;
  • your college/university can provide an English-language transcript showing those courses and those grades.

If your school is not U.S.-style as defined above, you must apply as a first-year student, by the appropriate Early Decision or Regular Decision deadline, and only in your first year of study; if you have begun your second year of study or beyond, you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia as an undergraduate at all. Should you be admitted to Columbia and accept our offer, your post-secondary work cannot be considered for credit and you acknowledge that credit may not be received for any or all coursework taken at the previous college/university.

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

If you are a foreign student who is admitted without institutional financial aid, you cannot be guaranteed institutional financial aid even if there is a change in circumstances. A foreign student whose family experiences a severe and unforeseen change in circumstances may apply for financial aid at any time, and such requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  

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

Yes, under certain circumstances. A student who is a US citizen or permanent resident and whose family experiences a change in circumstances may apply for financial aid at any time. For example, a family may suffer a job loss or illness, or a younger sibling may begin attending college. Please note, however, that not every change in circumstances may qualify a family for 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 combined plan students who were admitted without institutional financial aid are not guaranteed institutional financial aid even if there is a change in circumstances.

What are the differences between Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Barnard College and the School of General Studies?

Columbia College is Columbia’s traditional undergraduate liberal arts college, its founding in 1754 as King’s College marks the birth of Columbia University.

Columbia Engineering is the University’s engineering school, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Barnard College is a liberal arts college for women in partnership with Columbia University.

At Columbia College, Columbia Engineering and Barnard College, students usually come directly from high school and attend full-time.

The School of General Studies is Columbia’s college for nontraditional students who want to earn a degree while attending full- or part-time. Nontraditional students have had a break of one year or more in their educational paths or have compelling personal or professional reasons for completing their bachelor’s degrees part time. Students in the School of General Studies take the same courses with the same faculty and undertake the same majors as all other undergraduates at Columbia.

All four colleges are located on the Morningside Heights campus in New York City.

What is the percentage of international students on campus?

17% of the undergraduate student body brings an international perspective to campus. For more information on international programs and services, please visit A Global Community section of our website.

What is the international population at Columbia?

Including the entire University, Columbia has the fourth largest number of international students of any college or university in the U.S.

Among the undergraduate students in the 2015 fall entering class:

  • Percentage of international students for the Class of 2019: 19%
  • Number of countries represented in the Class of 2019, by citizenship and places of schooling: 65
  • Top countries represented include: China, Canada, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, United Kingdom, Turkey, Pakistan, France, Germany, Brazil, Mexico

Among all undergraduates:

  • Number of countries represented in the entire student body, by citizenship and places of schooling: over 90

For more information on international programs and services, please visit International @ Columbia and the International Students and Scholars website.

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