Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

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March 11, 2008

Columbia announced today major enhancements to its undergraduate financial aid program for Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. In our quest to make Columbia affordable for all students, especially those from low and middle income families, the University will implement the following financial aid enhancements for all incoming and continuing students beginning with the 2008-2009 academic year:

  • Columbia will eliminate loans for all students receiving financial aid, whatever their family income, and replace them with University grants.
  • In an effort to further assist low-income families, parents with calculated incomes below $60,000 and typical assets will no longer be 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 will see their parent contributions significantly reduced.
  • To support students pursuing study abroad, research, internships and community service opportunities, Columbia will offer additional funding and exemptions from academic year and summer work expectations.

No-Loan Policy

These enhancements build on a financial aid initiative introduced in 2007, which eliminated loans for students from families with calculated incomes below $50,000 and typical assets. Today’s announcement extends the no-loan benefit to all financial aid recipients, effectively adding as much as $20,000 in Columbia-funded grants for every eligible student’s four-year aid package. -

Eliminated or Reduced Parent Contribution

Families with calculated incomes below $60,000 and typical assets will not have to make a parent contribution for the cost of education. Families with calculated incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 and typical assets will see a significant reduction in the amount of parent contribution for their student’s tuition and room and board costs. For example, a family with income of $75,000 and typical assets will see their parent contribution decrease by approximately one half as compared to current financial aid policies.

Work expectation exemptions enable students to pursue co-curricular, research, internship and study abroad opportunities

Attending a major research university in the center of one of the world’s largest and most global cities, Columbia students have unparalleled access to internship, community service and research opportunities. With one of the largest international student populations of any American university and over 150 study abroad experiences offered to undergraduates, engagement with the global community is central to a Columbia experience. To ensure that all students, regardless of their financial resources, have equal access to such opportunities, we are announcing the following initiatives:

  • All financial aid recipients are invited to apply for exemption from summer and academic term work expectations when they engage in unpaid research, community service or internship opportunities.
  • For financial aid recipients studying abroad, the academic term work expectation will be replaced with grants allowing students to have more freedom to explore fully the scope of Columbia’s international opportunities.
  • More information & application
  • FAQs

Columbia’s Long-Standing Commitment to Diversity

A commitment to diversity—of every kind—is a long-standing Columbia hallmark. Columbia undergraduates bring with them an enormous range of interests and talents, represent every socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic background, and hail from all fifty states and from all over the world. Undergraduates study in over ninety different academic fields and their extensive extra-curricular interests are represented in over five hundred student organizations. In the current first-year class, fifteen percent of our students are the first in their families to go to college. Almost half of our first-year students self-identified as students of color, making Columbia one of the most ethnically diverse institutions of higher learning in the world and earning a number one spot in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education national ranking for the percentage of African-Americans in a first-year class. Columbia also has the highest percentage of Pell grant recipients of any Ivy League or private research university. The new financial aid initiatives underscore our continued commitment to diversity, making a Columbia education even more accessible for students from every background.

Recruitment and Outreach

For many years, our commitment to inclusiveness and excellence has been demonstrated by Columbia’s allocation of significant resources to early college awareness outreach programs across the nation, building contacts in communities that have been underrepresented historically. In conjunction with the University’s new financial aid initiatives, Columbia will continue and expand partnerships with almost 500 non-profit organizations that help students and families from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, including increased outreach and sponsorship of on-campus and regional college-access workshops for counselors and students.

Through the Generosity of Alumni and Friends

Funding for these financial aid enhancements is provided primarily by the generous alumni and friends of the University, through annual fund gifts and permanent endowments. The remainder of the needed funding will come from a combination of operating revenue, new fundraising and an increase in the endowment spending rate. Columbia is currently seeking to raise more than $440 million in undergraduate financial aid endowment. More than $260 million of this total has already been committed. Last year, Columbia’s most generous donor, John W. Kluge CC’37, pledged $400 million for financial aid, half of which is directed to undergraduates in Columbia College.

To provide further support and guidance to students once they are enrolled at Columbia, further investment in career education and student advising is planned through the current Campaign for Undergraduate Education.

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