Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

FAQs: Currently Enrolled Students

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What happens if I change dorms or meal plans?

Your financial aid budget includes the cost of a standard residence hall room and the standard meal plan, both of which all first-year students are required to purchase. After your first year, you will no longer be required to sign up for a meal plan, however, your financial aid budget will include a food allowance based on the availability of kitchen facilities in your dorm. For dorms with no kitchen, your food allowance will be roughly equal to the cost of the standard meal plan. For dorms with kitchens, your food allowance will be lower than the cost of the standard meal plan, since you will be able to cook some of your meals for yourself. If being on a meal plan is important to you, you should select a dormitory without kitchen facilities, so that you do not spend more on room and board than your total budget allows.

Do I have to pay the Health Service fee if I am covered by my parents’ medical insurance?

 The mandatory fee for on-campus services and support offered by Health Services at Columbia. This is different from the Medical Insurance Plan Premium, which may be waived upon documentation of comparable coverage.

Aetna Student Health manages the medical insurance waiver process for Columbia, which is separate from Health Services. An overview of the Health Insurance information may be found online athttp://www.health.columbia.edu/docs/csmip/overview/index.html. There is an online waiver form, which you must complete and return every year during the summer prior to the beginning of the academic year (and no later than September 30 each year). When they receive the waiver form and are able to determine that you receive adequate medical coverage, Aetna will take appropriate action, and you will not be billed for medical insurance. We encourage you to complete this process no later than July 15 so that an anticipated charge for medical insurance will not appear on your Student Account Statement for the fall term. Please note that the online waiver will not activate for the upcoming academic year until summer: http://www.health.columbia.edu/docs/csmip/waiver/index.html.

How will I receive my earnings? Do my wages get deposited directly to my student account?

Student employees generally receive biweekly paychecks for the hours they worked. These earnings do not appear as credits on any bill received from Columbia. Instead, a paycheck will be given to the student and the money earned may be used to purchase books and other personal items.

Wages for work study jobs range from approximately $7 to $12, depending on the job and your qualifications. Most first-year students earn approximately $7-8 per hour and therefore work about ten to twelve hours a week to fulfill their work study allocation.

What is your policy towards renewing the financial aid award after the first year?

For each year of attendance at Columbia, you will need to submit a new financial aid application which will be evaluated using the same methods and criteria that were used when you were admitted. Since the cost of attendance increases each year, for the typical family the financial aid package will increase in order to keep up with the cost increase. However, if your family circumstances have changed (e.g., changes in income, number of people in the household, the number of children who are full-time undergraduate students), then your financial aid award will be adjusted to take these changes into account.

When and where are bills sent?

At Columbia we call each bill a Student Account Statement. The student will be sent the first Student Account Statement for the fall term in late July or early August, and the first statement for the spring term in early December. The payment due date will be approximately 30 days after the first Student Account Statement for the term has been sent.

In addition, the student will receive monthly Student Account Statements when there is a current activity on the account (a new charge or credit), or if a debit or credit balance remains on the account.

Student Account Statements will not be mailed home. Instead the student will be able to view their Student Account Statement via Student Services Online (SSOL). Also, on SSOL the student may authorize you to view the E-Bill.

Are there other charges or expenses that I should be aware of?

Additional billed costs you might accrue include laboratory or language fees (for certain classes) and laundry service (optional). Some courses, particularly in the sciences and languages have fees ranging from $5 to $150. Laundry service costs begin at $20. These charges will not appear on the first Student Account Statement, but will appear on subsequent Student Account Statements.

You should plan for additional non-billed costs for books and miscellaneous expenses. Miscellaneous expenses may include such things as academic supplies, personal items, and recreation. For 2014-2015, our office uses a figure of $3,164 for these books and miscellaneous items when figuring the student’s cost of attendance.

In addition, you should budget for the cost of travel between home and New York. Students who will be flying to school are encouraged to take advantage of the lowest student fares available by booking as early as possible. If you do not have a travel agent, you may want to contact STA Travel at 800-777-0112 or the STA Travel Web site. We also encourage students to check online for bargains by doing a search for “student travel”.

How do I waive the medical insurance if I am already covered?

Aetna Student Health manages the medical insurance waiver process for Columbia, which is separate from Health Services. An overview of the Health Insurance information may be found online athttp://www.health.columbia.edu/docs/csmip/overview/index.html. There is an online waiver form, which you must complete and return every year during the summer prior to the beginning of the academic year (and no later than September 30 each year). When they receive the waiver form and are able to determine that you receive adequate medical coverage, Aetna will take appropriate action, and you will not be billed for medical insurance. We encourage you to complete this process no later than July 15 so that an anticipated charge for medical insurance will not appear on your Student Account Statement for the fall term. Please note that the online waiver will not activate for the upcoming academic year until summer: http://www.health.columbia.edu/docs/csmip/waiver/index.html.

How and when should I submit the renewal application for financial aid?

The deadline to submit the renewal application for financial aid is early May. We will contact you in early March with instructions on how to complete the renewal application process.

How do I obtain an IDOC cover sheet?

All continuing students are expected to submit their renewal application materials through the College Board’s IDOC service. You can print the form from the IDOC Web site. You will need your (student) social security number and date of birth in order to access the IDOC cover sheet.

When will I receive my financial aid award letter?

Financial aid award letters for continuing students who have all financial aid application material submitted by the May 5th deadline can expect to receive their letter via email by the end of June.

Current Students: May I appeal my financial aid package?
  1. YES, if your family’s financial circumstances changed after you submitted your financial aid application.
  2. YES, if you have complicated circumstances, and you would like us to take a second look at how we interpreted your family’s financial situation.

All appeals should be submitted in writing and you may do so at any time during the year. If you would like to discuss your award, please call the Office of Financial Aid and Educational Financing to speak with one of our financial aid advisors: 212-854-3711.

How will my aid change if I become a Resident Advisor (RA)?

As an RA, you will not be charged for your housing and as a result your Student Account Statement will not contain room charges. Your financial aid is adjusted to reflect your lower charges, as you will have a “Resident Advisor Stipend” as part of your financial aid package. The stipend will reduce the self-help portion of your financial aid package. If the amount of your stipend and any outside scholarships you receive exceed the self-help portion of your package then any remaining funds will be used to reduce your Columbia grant.

I will be studying abroad next year/semester. How does this affect my financial aid?

If you are participating in a study abroad program you will be charged regular tuition as if you were enrolled at Columbia. Your financial aid budget will be adjusted to reflect your costs while abroad. If your financial aid credits exceed the tuition charged then you will be issued a refund to help cover any costs incurred while abroad (e.g., room, board, books, personal expenses, travel).

How do I apply for the New York State TAP?

The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you are a New York State resident, the federal processor will automatically send your FAFSA information to New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC). HESC will then send you a personalized TAP application for your signature. You must sign this form and return it to HESC in order to receive your TAP award.

How do I understand my award letter?

To assist you in understanding your financial aid award letter please visit our Award Letter Guide:

https://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/award-letter

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.  For example, if you are awarded a $5,000 outside scholarship, your SC and Work Study/Student Employment could be significantly reduced/eliminated. If the total amount of outside scholarship funds exceeds this amount, 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:  http://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/content/outside-scholarships.  

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.

Are there student/parent loans available?

Some students and families finance a portion of their Parent Contribution (PC) or Student Contribution (SC). Information on the different financing options is available on the Education Loans portion of our website: https://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/education-loans

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).   Information on the payment plan is available here:  http://sfs.columbia.edu/billing/ways-to-pay#payment-plan.

How do student job works?

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 at http://sfs.columbia.edu/work-study.

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 will be posted on the LionSHARE, a portal which a student can access:  http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/findajob/lionshare.

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 here:  http://sfs.columbia.edu/required-forms-new-students.  

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