FAQs: Prospective Students
All financial aid administered by our office is need-based. There are no academic, athletic or talent-based institutional scholarships awarded to students at Columbia College and the undergraduate division of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Students are welcome to pursue outside scholarship opportunities independently.
For all applicants who are US Citizens or Eligible NonCitizens, the admissions process is need-blind, meaning that applying for financial aid will have no bearing on the admission decision.
International students are evaluated in a need-aware process, meaning that among the many criteria taken into consideration in rendering an admissions decision, the student’s status as a financial aid applicant is also considered.
Yes. Columbia meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for international students admitted as first-years and transfers pursuing their first degree. Please be aware that Columbia is need-aware in its admission of international students. International applicants must apply for and demonstrate financial need at the time of admission. If you plan on applying for financial at any point during your four years of study then you must indicate that you are a financial aid applicant on your admissions application. If you do not, you will not be eligible to apply for financial aid at any time during your enrollment unless your citizenship status changes.
Financial aid for transfer students is need-based, and determined based on a financial aid analysis, in the same manner as for incoming first-year students. We guarantee to meet full demonstrated financial need for transfer students pursuing their first degree. Combined Plan applicants, please see Combined Plan information.
Approximately 50% of undergraduate students in Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences receive financial aid.
Financial aid is awarded to students and families of many income levels; however we do have specific financial aid initiatives designed to make Columbia accessible to students from low-income households.
Because our financial aid program is need based, we determine financial aid eligibility by evaluating each family’s ability to pay for education costs. Our office conducts a thorough review of each applicant’s financial information every year, and we take many factors into consideration during our analysis. Review our Determining Eligibility page for more information about the factors we consider.
We calculate a family’s total income by adding all sources of income, including any untaxed income (e.g., tax-deferred pension contributions, social security benefits, child support received, tax exempt interest). In cases of divorced or separated families, the incomes from both parents are considered to determine the total family income.
Parents’ assets include cash, savings, investments, home equity, other real estate equity, and business equity. We do not include the value of retirement assets in our analysis. We do provide enhanced financial aid eligibility for low-income families with typical assets. For families with an income up to $100,000, we consider typical assets to be approximately up to $250,000.
Outside scholarships replace 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 or eliminated. If the total amount of outside scholarship funds exceeds this amount, it will then begin to replace the Columbia grant. Outside scholarships will not reduce the Parent Contribution.
Additional information can be found on our outside scholarship
US Citizens and Eligible Noncitizens – You may apply for financial aid in future years. This request must come in writing from the student directly.
International students – You must have indicated that you were a financial aid applicant at the time of your 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.
The CSS Profile provides up to 6 fee waivers to qualifying domestic students who are first-time, first-year, low-income applicants. Eligibility for fee waivers is automatically assessed at the time you complete the CSS Profile. Columbia does not offer additional fee waivers to domestic students.
Low-income International students wishing to request a CSS Profile fee waiver should contact email@example.com.
To make corrections or changes to the information that you provided on the CSS Profile, print out the page(s) that you need to change/correct and hand write the correct information. Those corrected page(s) should be submitted directly to our office via fax or mail.
Financial Aid & Educational Financing
1130 Amsterdam Avenue
100 Hamilton Hall, MC 2802
New York, NY 10027
IDOC is the College Board’s document management system. Tax returns and other documents can be uploaded electronically or mailed to IDOC. Students completing the CSS Profile will be sent an e-mail with instructions on submitting information. Additional information is available on their website:
Note: Certain populations of students are asked to send documents directly to Columbia. Please follow the submission instructions for your applicant type using our How to Apply tool.
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.
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.
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.
Though our calculator also takes into consideration factors such as currency exchange and differences in cost of living expenses, please note that our calculator works best for families living in the US. We have designed our calculator for families living in the US; therefore this calculator will not be able to provide an accurate estimate for international students.
Please input separate calculations with each parent’s information. The combination of the two results will be the total expected parent contribution. If either parent has remarried, your stepparent's information should also be provided. The calculated parental contribution will be based on both incomes; however, Columbia’s final calculation applies a proportional methodology to remarried parents.
Please input your best estimates on the calculator, according to your percentage of ownership; we will refer to the most recently completed tax documentation at the time of application (Federal 1040 Schedule C and/or Schedule E; Federal 1120 or 1120-S Corporate Tax Returns; 1165 Partnership Tax Returns; K-1s) to confirm actual business income and value.