Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

FAQs: Admitted Students

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What is the Net Cost?

The net cost is the amount your family should expect to pay towards your billed and non-billed education expenses for the academic year. It is the combination of the Student Responsibility and the Parent Contribution.

May I request a re-evaluation of my financial aid package? (Admitted Students)

You can submit a request to have your financial aid award reconsidered for one of the following reasons:

  • Your family’s financial circumstances have changed since you originally submitted the financial aid application.
  • Your family’s financial circumstances are complex in nature, and you would like us to re-review the file with new information or clarification not previously submitted.

As appeals vary, and can be sensitive in nature, we recommend that you contact our office and speak with a financial aid officer prior to submitting a request. All requests for reconsideration should be submitted via e-mail to ugrad-finaid@columbia.edu.

What is the Student Responsibility?

All financial aid recipients are expected to contribute towards the Student Responsibility, which consists of the Student Contribution and Student Employment.

All incoming First-Year students have a minimum Student Contribution of $2,400 as part of their financial aid award; a contribution from student assets may be included. The expectation is that the student will earn this amount in the summer preceding their first academic year. We do not mandate, however, that students work during the summer. Students and their families may cover this amount with outside scholarships, savings, parental assistance, and/or other financing options if they choose to.

Student Employment is also part of the financial aid award. Students earn this amount during the Fall and Spring semesters. This amount typically goes towards non-billed expenses, such as books/supplies and other personal expenses. This expectation is also not required, and may be covered by outside scholarships, savings, parental assistance, and/or other financing options.

In future years, students who obtain unpaid summer or semester internships may apply for additional grant to cover these expectations through the Work Exemption Program.

What is the Parent Contribution?

The Parent Contribution is the amount the parents are expected to pay towards educational costs for the academic year. It is based on our review of the information provided to us in the financial aid application. Learn more about the variables that are considered in our analysis.

Is my award finalized?

Early Decision applicants- The financial aid award you received will be finalized based on prior year tax returns and information provided in the CSS Profile.

Regular Decision applicants- If your financial aid award was reviewed with prior year tax returns, then your financial aid eligibility is final.

What if my financial aid application is still incomplete?

If your financial aid application was incomplete at the time of admission, you can still complete it and receive a financial aid evaluation. Please submit the missing items at your earliest convenience. If you have any questions regarding any of the missing materials please contact our office.

Can I apply for financial aid after I am admitted?

US Citizens and Eligible Noncitizens – You can apply for financial aid after the recommended deadline, and financial aid eligibility will not be impacted by the time of application. We do recommend that you file by the deadline to assure you receive a timely eligibility letter.

International- You MUST have indicated that you were a financial aid applicant at the time of the admission application and qualified for need-based aid. If you did not, you will not be eligible to apply for financial aid at any time during your enrollment unless your citizenship status changes.

How do outside scholarships affect my Columbia financial aid award?

Outside scholarships can be applied to replace, dollar for dollar, the Student Contribution (SC) and Work-Expectation components of the financial aid award. If the total amount of outside scholarship funds exceeds the SC and Work-Expectation, it will then begin reducing the Columbia grant. Outside scholarships will NOT reduce the Parent Contribution.

Additional information can be found on our outside scholarship page.

I hold DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status. What types of financial aid can I receive?

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. Undocumented students, including those with DACA status, are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid, so Columbia meets their need entirely from institutional resources.

How do I apply for financial aid as an undocumented student?

Undocumented students should not file the FAFSA, whether or not they hold DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status. Undocumented students should submit the CSS Profile as well as prior year federal tax returns and W-2s via IDOC. If applicable, the CSS Non-Custodial Profile and/or Business/Farm tax forms should also be submitted.

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

If my DACA status changes, will my financial aid change?

All undocumented students, including those with DACA status, are considered as foreign citizens and their financial aid is funded entirely from institutional grants and not federal funding. Thus, a student's DACA status (or change in such) would have no impact on existing financial aid.

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.

Will my financial aid eligibility be the same all four years?

Students and families are asked to submit a financial aid application in each year the student attends. In general, if the family’s income and asset levels remain steady, the Parent Contribution (PC) will as well. Some common causes for change in future financial aid awards include:

  • Change in the number of students in the household enrolled in an undergraduate program
  • Changes to household income or assets
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 considered international and their applications are evaluated in a need-aware manner. This 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, many of whom receive a substantial amount of financial aid.

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

Does Columbia match financial aid packages from other schools?

If the student receives a need-based offer with a different interpretation of the family’s financial circumstances, please fax us a copy of the offer, along with any additional pertinent information. Our office will review your request for reconsideration to determine if a change is appropriate. Please note that we will not review any merit-based awards.

Do I have to maintain a minimum GPA?

There is no minimum GPA requirement to qualify for financial aid. However, the student must be maintaining satisfactory academic progress towards a Columbia degree and enrolled full-time.

What will my bill look like?

Your financial aid award is separate from your bill. The financial aid budget includes billed items (such as tuition & fees, housing and meal plan) and unbilled items (such as books, and personal expenses), which will not appear on the bill. Your Estimated Family Contribution (Parent Contribution plus Student Contribution) will not match your bill dollar for dollar.

Additional information about the E-Billing process is sent students during the summer. The Fall semester E-Bill will be sent to students and authorized payers in mid-August and is due in early September.

For an estimate of what your bill will look like, please utilize our Bill Estimator Tool (available in July).

Are there student/parent loans available?

Some students and families choose to finance a portion of their Parent Contribution (PC) or Student Contribution (SC) with education loans. Information on different financing options is available on the Education Loans portion of our website.

Does Columbia offer a payment plan?

Yes. Families may finance all or a portion of the bill through either a 5 month (one semester’s bill) or 10 month payment plan (full academic year). More information on the payment plan is available on Student Financial Services' website.

How do students apply for a campus job?

There are two types of positions students may secure while enrolled: federal work-study or casual employment. Both types of positions are on-campus work; however they are funded by different sources. Eligibility for federal work-study is determined by the FAFSA. The financial aid award will indicate whether a student is eligible for federal work-study. Federal work study jobs are posted online.

Students not eligible for federal work-study can obtain campus jobs, but would search for them in the casual-employment section. Casual employment campus jobs are posted on the LionSHARE portal.

Students are paid directly; their earnings are not applied toward the bill. Information on the requirements for student job paperwork as well as payroll is available online.

How do I pay for books, travel, and personal expenses?

Student’s individual expenses for books, travel, and other personal expenses vary. In our academic year budget we use average figures to reflect the cost students and families can expect to incur. Many students will subsidize these expenses from summer and academic year earnings, savings, parental assistance, and other financing options.

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