Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Related FAQs

What criteria are used for admissions decisions?

The Columbia University first-year class of College and Engineering students is chosen from a large and diverse group of applicants. In the process of selection, the Committee on Admissions asks questions about each applicant's academic potential, intellectual strength and ability to think independently. The Committee also considers the general attitudes and character of the applicant, special abilities and interests, maturity, motivation, curiosity and whether he or she is likely to make productive use of the four years at Columbia. In its final selection, Columbia seeks diversity of personalities, achievements and talents, and of economic, social, ethnic, racial and geographic backgrounds. Each applicant's academic record is examined, together with reports on personal qualities that have been supplied by the principal, headmaster or counselor and by teachers. The student's record of participation in the life of his or her school and community is also important, as is his or her performance on standardized tests.

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.

Are my chances for admission greater if I attend a summer program or program for high school students on the Columbia campus?

Not necessarily. Although we recommend that all applicants whenever possible spend some time on campus before applying, applicants who have attended a program on the Columbia campus are not given automatic preference in the admissions process.

For more information on summer programs at Columbia, please visit the High School Programs website.

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 graduation requirements 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 or Coalition Application.

Does Columbia have a waitlist?

Columbia places extremely compelling candidates on a waitlist to be considered for admission if spots in the entering class become available. Every year, the number of spots that become available is different.

We do not rank our waiting list, and all candidates are re-considered for admission if spaces do become available. We encourage students to submit an additional one-page statement expressing interest in the waitlist, but do not encourage the submission of additional letters of recommendation.