If you have come to this page, it's because you have questions that haven't been answered on other parts of our website. Find the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions, whether you want to know more about how Columbia students take advantage of the arts in New York City, what campus dining is like or which application type is right for you.
What is Columbia looking for when evaluating students for admission? What are the criteria for admission?
The Columbia University first-year class of College and Engineering students is chosen from a large and diverse group of applicants. Columbia employs a holistic approach in assessing candidates in order to evaluate which students are the best matches for Columbia's unique educational experience.
In the process of selection, the Committee on Admissions considers 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 they are 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, cultural, religious, racial and geographic backgrounds.
How competitive is admission to Columbia?
Admission to both Columbia College and Columbia Engineering is broad-based but highly selective, and the Committee on Admissions is only able to offer admission to a small fraction of all applicants. Columbia employs a holistic approach in assessing candidates in order to evaluate which students are the best matches for Columbia's unique educational experience. A profile of the current first-year class is available for reference. Please note that Columbia does not have a "cut-off" GPA or test score for applicants.
Admission for transfer students is also highly selective. Over the past decade, the Committee has admitted between 5% and 10% of transfer applicants each year.
What are your secondary/high school course requirements for admission?
Columbia College: The College has no explicit number of unit requirements for admission, but applicants must present evidence that they are prepared for college work in the humanities, mathematics, social sciences, foreign languages and natural sciences. Accordingly, the College strongly recommends the following secondary school preparation:
- Four years of English literature and composition
- Four years of mathematics - unless you have already completed what is available at your school
- Three to four years of history and/or social studies
- Three to four years of laboratory science
- Three to four years of one foreign language (ancient or modern) - taken during high school
Students who plan to become scientists, engineers, physicians or dentists should be as solidly grounded in mathematics and the sciences as their high school schedules and curricula have permitted. The study of mathematics, at least through pre-calculus, is strongly advised wherever possible.
Modifying the preparatory program just outlined—by taking more work in some subjects and less in others—is not only acceptable but may be desirable in individual cases. The vast majority of successful applicants to the College have taken five academic courses per term for all four years of secondary/high school.
Columbia Engineering: The School of Engineering and Applied Science prescribes no standardized course of study for secondary school students applying for first-year admission. However, the Engineering curriculum is heavily driven by physics and calculus, so the school strongly advises these courses within the following recommended academic preparation:
- Four years of mathematics (through calculus)—unless you have already completed what is available at your school
- Four years of laboratory science, including one year of chemistry and one year of physics (preferably in the last two years of secondary school)
- Four years of English literature and composition
- Three to four years of history and/or social studies
- Two to three years of a foreign language (ancient or modern) taken during high school
Is there a minimum test score, class rank or GPA required for admission to Columbia?
No. Columbia does not have a "cut-off" GPA or test score for applicants. Columbia employs a holistic approach in assessing candidates in order to evaluate which students are the best matches for Columbia's unique educational experience. For detailed information on the statistics of the most recent entering class, refer to the Class Profile.
Is there a maximum number of students admitted from a particular country, region or school?
No. Columbia seeks to enroll students with unique achievements and talents as well as diverse economic, social and geographic backgrounds. Our undergraduate students come from all 50 states and over 110 different countries. We do not have any quotas for any particular population (i.e., race, ethnicity, religion, state, etc.). Applicants are compared to all other applicants, both regionally and globally. Learn more about Columbia's holistic admissions process.
Should I apply Early Decision?
If Columbia is your first-choice school—and you are willing to make a binding commitment to attend if admitted—we encourage you to consider applying Early Decision. Learn more about the Early Decision process.
How do I track the status of my application?
Online admissions document tracking is only available during certain times in the admissions process. Applicants will receive an email notifying them how to access their applicant portal. If, at that time, you discover that any items are listed as "not received/processed," please have your school submit a duplicate copy of this missing information to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. Emailed materials will take up to one week for processing. You will have time to submit the missing credentials before decisions are released without being penalized.
According to our Application Instructions, we will consider a file complete with only one Teacher Evaluation on file. We do not track Mid-Year Reports/senior grades or additional materials.
Can I provide updates or corrections to my application after I have submitted it?
Any additions or corrections to the application must be submitted in writing either through the application status page or via email to email@example.com. Please include the student's identifying information: name and high school/secondary school; Columbia ID number (C00...); and date of birth.
We will accept self-reported ACT and SAT scores on the testing section of the application and on your application status page. If you wish to provide updated scores after you have applied, you can do so on your application status page. We do not track Midyear Reports/senior grades or additional materials.
What if I need an application deadline extension?
We understand that students personally affected by natural disasters, community disturbances or other extenuating circumstances may have challenges in completing their applications on time; they are invited to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if their application will be arriving late.
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. The below timelines are followed for different admissions programs:
- 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 15.
- Admission decisions for transfer candidates are typically available by or before the end of May.
- Admissions decisions for Combined Plan Program candidates are available in the spring.
- Admissions decisions for Visiting Student Program candidates are available 4-6 weeks after complete application submission, as this is a rolling admissions program.
Is there a preference for the Common Application or the Coalition Application?
The Committee on Admissions will apply the same holistic review process to evaluate first-year candidates regardless of whether they submit the Common Application or the Coalition Application; there is no preference for one over the other. Please be aware that students must submit only one complete application, using either the Common Application or the Coalition Application.
Either the Common Application or the Coalition Application must be submitted by Columbia’s Early Decision deadline of November 1 or Regular Decision deadline of January 1.
Please note that transfer applicants must submit the Coalition Application. Combined Plan and Visiting Student applicants will apply directly with Columbia Undergraduate Admissions.
Does Columbia prefer the ACT over the SAT or vice versa?
Testing is just one factor in our holistic review process, and Columbia will observe a test-optional policy for students who will be applying for entrance in the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 application cycles. If you choose to submit testing, you may take either the ACT or SAT. Columbia does not view one more favorably than the other. If you take both tests and submit scores from both, we will look at the highest score of the two. Refer to our standardized test policy for more information.
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. Learn more about the Early Decision process.
Regular Decision candidates: Scores for February tests can be provided in time for consideration. Testing taken after February cannot be considered.
You may self-report your testing. If you wish to provide updated scores after you have applied, you can submit your scores on your Columbia application status page. The page will only be available after you have submitted your application.
Should I ever “rush” my test scores to Columbia?
No! Please do not utilize the "rush" service in sending your test scores to Columbia. Doing so does not speed up the processing of your test scores. We encourage you to self-report your scores directly on testing section of your Common Application or Coalition Application. Refer to our standardized test policy for more information.
Do I need to take the SAT Subject Tests for admission to Columbia?
No. The SAT Subject Test and other optional standardized exam scores are not required, but Columbia will accept your results if you choose to submit them. You will not be at a disadvantage should you choose not to take these optional tests or submit the scores to Columbia.
Should I send my AP/IB test results to Columbia?
Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) test results are not necessary for application to Columbia, although the information when available may be helpful in assessing a student's academic achievements. You may report your results on your Common Application or Coalition Application, or send us a copy of your score report(s).
Students who seek to gain credit for AP or IB results should know that credit is granted only after a student is enrolled at Columbia and at the discretion of individual departments.
Please note that proficiency exam scores must be submitted if they are required for the completion of, and graduation from, your secondary school. This may include internal and external exam results, such as A Level, International Baccalaureate, French Baccalaureate, and other final national exam results.
May I submit supplementary recommendations?
We welcome an additional letter of recommendation if the writer has worked with you in a researcher or college course capacity. Any supplementary recommendations should not be completed on the Teacher Report forms of your application, but instead submitted directly by the recommender to our office via email to email@example.com. The Committee on Admissions discourages the submission of additional recommendations, as admissions decisions will be based primarily on the required recommendations from your high school teachers and secondary school counselor.
What is Columbia's policy on the submission of supplementary materials (i.e. musical recording, artistic portfolio, science abstract, etc.)?
Architecture, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama and Theatre Arts, Film, Maker, Music and Visual Arts supplements can be submitted through SlideRoom, an online platform that allows applicants to send digital materials to the Committee on Admissions. Do not send CDs, DVDs or hard copies of any materials, as they will not be reviewed. If you have completed academic research with a faculty member or mentor, a short abstract may be uploaded as part of your application. Learn more about supplementary materials.
I have completed academic research during high school. How can I share this information in my application?
If you have completed research with a faculty member or mentor in science, engineering or other academic disciplines (e.g., humanities, social sciences or languages), you are welcome to provide a one or two page abstract as a supplement to your application. You may upload your abstract in the Columbia-specific questions to the Common Application or in the Uploads page of the Coalition Application.
If you are submitting an abstract, you will also be asked to answer a few short questions on the duration of your research involvement, your specific role in and contributions to the research project, and contact information of your research mentor. This will help us better understand your specific research experience beyond what you may have already included in your other application materials.
What is Columbia’s policy on admissions interviews?
Volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee, in addition to select Student Interviewers, conduct interviews on behalf of Undergraduate Admissions. You will be contacted directly if an interview is available in the same area as your high school. Because we have a finite number of volunteers to interview many thousands of candidates, we are unable to grant interviews to all of our applicants and cannot guarantee that an interview will be available in any given area. Candidates who are not offered an interview are not at any disadvantage in the admissions process. Learn more about interviews.
Interviews are not available for transfer candidates.
Does Columbia give preference in the admission process to applicants whose parents attended Columbia?
We are always pleased to receive applications from students whose family members have graduated from Columbia. When an applicant is extremely competitive and compares favorably with other similarly talented candidates, being the child of a Columbia University graduate (from any Columbia University school or college) may be a slight advantage in the admission process. This advantage may especially apply for "legacy" candidates, who are the children of Columbia College or Columbia Engineering graduates.
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 (NOP) 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
1 household member
2 household members
3 household members
4 household members
5 household members
6 household members
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. Learn more about affordability and aid.
Please contact the Academic Success Program at 212-854-3514 or firstname.lastname@example.org with further questions or concerns.
When are Mid-Year Reports due?
Please have your school submit the Mid-Year Report as soon as first quarter or first trimester grades are available if you are an Early Decision candidate; for Regular Decision candidates, as soon as first semester or second trimester grades are available. If your counselor wishes to email mid-year grades, they may send them directly to email@example.com.
We request that Mid-Year Reports are submitted by February 1, or as soon as they are available. If you have completed high/secondary school at the time of application, it is not necessary to send in new documents. We do not track Mid-Year Reports/senior grades through the online tracking system.
How do I apply to Columbia using the Coalition Application?
Students can start Columbia’s application as part of the Coalition Application by searching for Columbia University in the “Colleges” tab and selecting “Start Application.” Please note that several sections of the Profile must be completed before the Columbia section may be started; any sections not yet completed will be highlighted in yellow. Some sections of the Profile are not required, as Columbia will review this information through supporting materials, such as the official transcript(s).
The Columbia-specific application questions can be found at the conclusion of the Columbia section of the Coalition Application. Please note that the Columbia-specific questions must be completed in sequential order. More instructions regarding the Columbia-specific section can be found at the start of the section within the Coalition Application.
What is my Coalition ID and where do I find it?
The Coalition Account ID is the identifying number that is unique to your Profile in the Coalition Application, and should be used when submitting any documents to our office. It is found both on the “Personal Information” page of the Profile as well as under “Account Settings.”
What is the virtual locker for the Coalition Application?
The Locker offers a private space for students to collect and organize materials throughout their high school journey. Whether collecting thoughts on college options or storing classwork or personal writing, students can confidentially save documents that may be useful later in their college search or application. Students can maintain a record of their interests and activities and collect letters of support from instructors, coaches or supervisors. More information about the Locker can be found on the Coalition’s website.
How do I submit my essay for the Coalition Application?
Columbia requires that applicants using the Coalition Application submit an essay, using the prompts and information found on their website. Students may upload their essay in the “Uploads” section found at the conclusion of the Columbia-specific questions to the Coalition Application. Please note that while the prompts and instructions can be reviewed at any time, the section to upload your completed essay is not accessible until the other Columbia-specific questions have been completed.
How are supporting documents (transcripts and teacher recommendations) submitted as part of my Coalition Application?
To get official documents (transcript and recommendation letters) into your Locker, you will need to add the appropriate person as a contact (such as a guidance counselor or teacher). Once they are added as a contact, you can request the appropriate document.
In the "Official Documents" section, you may use the “Attach” feature to add these documents to your application so that they will be submitted to Columbia along with your application.
You can still submit your application even if your official documents are still in progress and not yet completed. Once your application has been submitted, you may cancel, change or resend requests directly from the "Official Documents" section.
Will Columbia have access to my virtual locker contents from the Coalition platform?
Columbia will not have access to the contents of a student’s virtual Locker, including both official documents and media. Students who are applying to Columbia using the Coalition Application will need to indicate which official documents (such as transcripts or recommendation letters) that are stored in the locker should be sent to Columbia as part of the review process. Columbia accepts supplementary materials as outlined on our website.
If I am accepted, may I defer for a year?
Yes. A candidate who has been offered first-year admission may ask to defer enrollment for a year to work, travel, complete mandatory military service or pursue a special opportunity. A first-year student may not defer admission in order to enroll full-time at another college or university. A second year of deferral may be granted upon request. Students must request a deferral in writing by May 15 after submitting their first-year response form on their application status portal.
Transfer students are not permitted to defer their admission. Visiting Students are permitted to defer their admission to a future term through the submission of the Visiting Student response form on their application status portal.
Will Columbia ever rescind an offer of admission?
If a candidate is offered admission, Columbia reserves the right to withdraw that offer of admission if:
- The candidate shows a significant drop in academic performance or fails to graduate from secondary/high school.
- The candidate has misrepresented himself or herself in the application process.
- We learn that the candidate has engaged in behavior prior to matriculation that indicates a serious lack of judgment or integrity.
- The candidate is holding both a place at Columbia and a place in the first-year class of a college other than Columbia after the May 1 deadline.
Columbia further reserves the right to require the applicant to provide additional information (and/or authorization for the release of information) about any such matter.
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 reconsidered 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.
May students rejected from Columbia appeal their admission decision?
No. If your application to Columbia is denied, that decision is final. There is no appeal process for admissions decisions, and applicants are not reconsidered for admission. Every application receives a review from members of the professional admissions staff. Because we do feel confident that our decisions, however difficult, are commitments that we make only after the care and deliberation that all our candidates deserve, we cannot accept any requests for reconsideration of these decisions.
If I am denied under the Early Decision program, may I apply under the Regular Decision Program?
No. If you apply under the Early Decision program and are denied admission, you may not reapply to Columbia College, Columbia Engineering or the School of General Studies again that year.
My country has mandatory military or other national service. How does that affect the timing of my application to Columbia?
It is your choice whether to apply during your final year of secondary school or during your obligatory service, but keep in mind that first-year students may enter Columbia only in September. You may prefer to apply to Columbia while you are still in secondary school and you have your counselors and teachers near at hand when you are arranging for transcripts, recommendations and other credentials to be submitted; if you are admitted, then we will grant a deferment of your entry to Columbia so that you may perform your mandatory service. On the other hand, you may wish to apply during your time of service in case it brings you additional self-awareness and life experiences that you feel may make your candidacy more compelling.
If you apply to Columbia during your final year of secondary school and are not admitted, then you may apply again during your obligatory service. That is permitted only if you are not holding a place at another college or university anywhere in the world.
Does Columbia allow students to start in the spring semester?
No, for most candidates. We do not accept applications for January/spring enrollment from First-Year, Transfer or Combined Plan Program applicants. Only Visiting Student candidates may apply for January/spring enrollment.
Are admissions requirements different for homeschooled students?
Homeschooled students receive the same evaluation as other Columbia applicants—every application receives the careful attention of several members of the professional admissions staff, and decisions are made only after review by the Committee on Admissions.
Homeschooled students should follow our Testing Policy. Advanced Placement (AP), SAT Subject Tests and other optional subject-proficiency exams are not required by Columbia, but we will accept your results if you choose to submit them in the testing section of your Common Application or Coalition Application. While you will not be at a disadvantage in our admissions process should you choose not to take these optional tests or submit the results, your scores can assist the Committee on Admissions in evaluating content knowledge and mastery in individual disciplines.
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:
- an outstanding academic record
- the physical, intellectual and emotional maturity to handle the rigorous program at Columbia
- the graduation requirements of their secondary/high schools.
Applicants for early admission should follow the normal instructions for applying, but should indicate they are applying for early admission under the "Additional Information" section of the Common Application or Coalition Application.
I have already graduated from high school. How may I apply to Columbia?
The answer depends on a number of factors, so pay careful attention to the distinctions below. You should also consult the instructions in the application itself. If you still are unsure of your status, please contact us by phone at 212-854-2522.
The distinctions below apply to all candidates as specified, regardless of citizenship, visa status or need for financial aid. If you are enrolled at a college or university overseas that follows a U.S.-style curriculum (e.g., the American University of Paris), then you should follow the same policy as a student at a college or university in the U.S.
Prospective Columbia Engineering Applicants
A gap in your schooling, whether for military service or any other reason, does not affect your admissions status as delineated in these distinctions.
- If you have not already spent a full academic year or more in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia Engineering as a first-year student.
- If you have already spent a full academic year or more in a university in the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia Engineering as a transfer student.
- If you have spent more than two full academic years in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia Engineering as an undergraduate at all.
- If you have spent a full academic year or less in a university outside the U.S. or Canada, then you must still apply to Columbia Engineering as a first-year student.
- If you have spent more than a full academic year in a university outside the U.S. or Canada, then you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia Engineering as an undergraduate at all.
Prospective Columbia College Applicants
I. If you have had no interruptions in your schooling of more than one academic year in total, or if the interruption in your schooling has been for the minimum length of your country’s mandatory military service:
- If you have not already spent a full academic year or more in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia College as a first-year student.
- If you have already spent a full academic year or more in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia College as a transfer student.
- If you have spent more than two full academic years in a college/university in the U.S. or Canada, then you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia College as an undergraduate at all. (See paragraph II.)
- If you have already spent a full academic year or less in a college/university outside the U.S. or Canada, then you must apply to Columbia College as a first-year student.
- If you have already spent more than a full academic year in a college/university outside the U.S. or Canada, then you are no longer eligible to apply to Columbia College as an undergraduate at all. (See paragraph II.)
II. If you have had any interruptions in your schooling of more than one academic year, or if you have been referred here by item I.3 or I.5 above, then you are strongly advised to apply instead to Columbia University’s School of General Studies, 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 pursue the same majors as all other undergraduates at Columbia. Find information on applying either as a first-year student or as a transfer to the School of General Studies. Financial aid is available to all candidates who qualify.
If the foregoing criteria apply to you, you may still apply to Columbia College if you insist, but you should be aware that you are doing so at a great disadvantage and that your acceptance is extremely unlikely.
Does Columbia admit students who have not completed high school?
Prior to enrollment, students admitted to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering must submit documentation of completion of their secondary/high school requirements, which includes the final transcript with date of graduation. If applicable, International Baccalaureate, GCE Advanced Level or nationally recognized high school graduation examination results must also be provided. Transcripts should be sent directly from the secondary/high school. Alternatively, a GED or TASC credential with a passing score may be submitted.
How do I apply for financial aid?
The financial aid application process collects information about your family's income, assets, family composition and other circumstances. All requirements and submission instructions are detailed on the Financial Aid & Educational Financing website. Learn more about affordability and aid at Columbia.
Will my chances for admission be affected if I apply for 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. All applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States, as well as students granted refugee visas by the United States, DACA recipients and undocumented students, 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 international students who receive a substantial amount of financial aid.
As an international student that will be read in a need-aware manner, 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.
How much is tuition?
The most recent Cost of Attendance figures—including tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, and other expenses—are listed on the Financial Aid and Educational Financing website.
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 the Early and Regular Decision processes are need-blind for United States citizens and permanent residents, refugees and asylum-seekers, and undocumented and DACA recipients. 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 with a commitment to meeting 100% of the demonstrated need of all admitted first-year students, regardless of citizenship.
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.
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.
Are fee waivers available for first-year applicants?
Application fee waivers can be requested directly through the Common Application or Coalition Application by selecting the indicator of financial need that most closely matches your circumstances. Please review a sample of eligibility guidelines, or determine your fee waiver eligibility using our form. While supporting documentation from a school official or other third party is welcome, it is not required. Columbia will grant all fee waiver requests automatically.
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 CSS Profile fee waivers to domestic students. Please review our information on application fee waivers.
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: international students who are not United States citizens or permanent residents, refugees or asylum-seekers, or undocumented or DACA-recipients, 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.