Frequently Asked Questions

How can I afford to send my child to Columbia?

We know that choosing the right college involves a variety of factors, and the cost of the institution and how you will finance your student’s education are extremely important considerations. A student should never decide not to apply to Columbia because they think the cost exceeds their family’s ability to pay. Need-based aid makes it possible for everyone to afford a Columbia education.

Columbia reviews each admitted student’s family’s financial circumstances, determines your financial need, and awards aid to meet a family’s full demonstrated financial need. For many families, Columbia can be as affordable, if not more affordable, than a state-college or university education.

We make every effort to help meet students’ financial needs. In our quest to make Columbia affordable for all students, especially those from low-income and middle-income families, the University implemented the following financial aid enhancements for all incoming and continuing students:

  • Columbia eliminated loans for all students receiving financial aid packages, whatever their family income, and replaced them with University grants.
  • In an effort to further assist low-income families, parents with calculated total incomes below $60,000 (and typical assets) are not expected to contribute any of their income or assets to tuition, room, board and mandatory fees.
  • Families with calculated incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 (and typical assets) have a significantly reduced parent contribution.
  • To support students pursuing study abroad, research, internships and community service opportunities, Columbia offers the opportunity to apply for additional funding and exemptions from academic year and summer work expectations.

These enhancements build on previous financial aid initiatives and a long standing commitment to make Columbia affordable for all admitted students as illustrated by the following facts:

  • Columbia meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all students admitted as first years who applied for financial aid, including foreign students, and we continue to meet your 100% of your demonstrated financial need for all four years of study.
  • Columbia has the highest proportion of undergraduates receiving federal Pell Grants in the Ivy League and among the nation’s most elite private research institutions.
  • About half of Columbia undergraduates receive some sort of financial assistance.
  • Last year, Columbia committed over $122 million of its resources for grant aid to undergraduate students.
  • In 2007 alumnus John Kluge, CC’37, pledged $400 million to Columbia, all designated for financial aid. This marks the largest pledge ever devoted exclusively to student aid to any single institution of higher education in the United States.

Related FAQs

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.

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

What forms/documents are required for financial aid consideration?

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

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.

How can I afford to send my child to Columbia?

We know that choosing the right college involves a variety of factors, and the cost of the institution and how you will finance your student’s education are extremely important considerations. A student should never decide not to apply to Columbia because they think the cost exceeds their family’s ability to pay. Need-based aid makes it possible for everyone to afford a Columbia education.

Columbia reviews each admitted student’s family’s financial circumstances, determines your financial need, and awards aid to meet a family’s full demonstrated financial need. For many families, Columbia can be as affordable, if not more affordable, than a state-college or university education.

We make every effort to help meet students’ financial needs. In our quest to make Columbia affordable for all students, especially those from low-income and middle-income families, the University implemented the following financial aid enhancements for all incoming and continuing students:

  • Columbia eliminated loans for all students receiving financial aid packages, whatever their family income, and replaced them with University grants.
  • In an effort to further assist low-income families, parents with calculated total incomes below $60,000 (and typical assets) are not expected to contribute any of their income or assets to tuition, room, board and mandatory fees.
  • Families with calculated incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 (and typical assets) have a significantly reduced parent contribution.
  • To support students pursuing study abroad, research, internships and community service opportunities, Columbia offers the opportunity to apply for additional funding and exemptions from academic year and summer work expectations.

These enhancements build on previous financial aid initiatives and a long standing commitment to make Columbia affordable for all admitted students as illustrated by the following facts:

  • Columbia meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all students admitted as first years who applied for financial aid, including foreign students, and we continue to meet your 100% of your demonstrated financial need for all four years of study.
  • Columbia has the highest proportion of undergraduates receiving federal Pell Grants in the Ivy League and among the nation’s most elite private research institutions.
  • About half of Columbia undergraduates receive some sort of financial assistance.
  • Last year, Columbia committed over $122 million of its resources for grant aid to undergraduate students.
  • In 2007 alumnus John Kluge, CC’37, pledged $400 million to Columbia, all designated for financial aid. This marks the largest pledge ever devoted exclusively to student aid to any single institution of higher education in the United States.

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 Financial Aid & Educational Financing and speak with one of our counselors.

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

Amount

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 requirement 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 asp@columbia.edu with further questions or concerns.

Do you meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for transfers?

All transfer 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. Foreign students applying for aid must understand that such aid is awarded on an extremely limited basis. Columbia meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted transfer students and Columbia does not give any scholarships for academic, athletic or artistic merit.

Please visit the Financial Aid website for more information on financial aid for transfer students, including all required forms.

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 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.

As an undocumented student, am I eligible for financial aid?

Yes, Columbia is committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of all students admitted as first-years or transfer students pursuing their first degree, regardless of citizenship status.

For admissions purposes, undocumented students are evaluated in a need-blind manner, which means we evaluate admissions applications without regard to financial need.

Undocumented students are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid, so we meet their need entirely from Columbia funding

Does Columbia provide fee waivers for the CSS Profile?

The CSS Profile service provides fee waivers to qualifying domestic first-time, first-year students from families with low incomes and limited assets. 

Eligibility for fee waivers is automatically assessed at the time you submit the CSS Profile, and the waiver covers the costs of the registration fee for up to eight school reports.  Please contact the College Board with any additional questions regarding CSS Profile fee waivers.

Columbia does not offer additional fee waivers to domestic students.

If you have additional questions regarding the financial aid process, please contact Financial Aid and Educational Financing at ugrad-finaid@columbia.edu or 212-854-3711.

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.

Are there any scholarships available for transfers?

There are no academic, athletic or talent-based institutional scholarships at Columbia, as all of our institutional financial aid is need-based. However, our students are often the recipients of merit-based scholarships from outside organizations (state grants/scholarships, local/national merit-based awards, etc.).

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