Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

FAQs: Prospective Students

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How do I report my family’s special circumstances?

Additional information you would like us to review with your application can be reported in the Explanations section of the CSS Profile. You can also contact us at ugrad-finaid@columbia.edu with an explanation of your individual circumstances. A financial aid officer will review the information and reach out to you with any needed follow-up.

How do I track my financial aid application?

The application tracking tool is available during specific windows of time for each application cycle. The following site contains the link to the tracking page, as well as the dates when it is available:

https://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/forms/track

Forms and documents will not appear immediately following submission on the Online Financial Aid System; please allow for processing time of at least 3-5 business days (and 5-8 business days for documents submitted to IDOC).

Should I apply Early Decision or Regular Decision?

Early Decision is a binding process where students commit to attend Columbia should they be admitted. Students applying through the Early Decision process ought to be confident that Columbia is their desired school of choice. If the student and family feel that financial aid will be a significant factor in whether or not the student can attend, we strongly recommend the family researches the financial aid process prior to applying, and consider applying Regular Decision in order to preserve the option of comparing financial aid decisions from multiple schools.

Please use the Net Price Calculator at Columbia and other preferred schools to estimate your financial aid eligibility, and speak with a financial aid officer to discuss any questions you may have.

When will I receive my financial aid eligibility letter?

Admitted students who completed their financial aid application by the recommended deadline should receive a financial aid eligibility letter along with the letter of admission. Applications completed after the deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis. 

Application timelines can be found on our website:  http://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/apply.  

Can I apply after the financial aid deadline?

US Citizens and Eligible Noncitizens – You can apply for financial aid after the recommended deadline, without penalty. We do recommend that you file by the deadline to assure you receive a timely eligibility letter.

International students – 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.  

When do I file the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is available beginning January 1, 2016.  It is submitted online and requires both the student and parent to create an FSA ID, if they do not already have one.  We strongly encourage families to complete the FAFSA after they file their 2015 taxes, so that they may utlize the Data Retrieval Tool.  

Early Decision:  The FAFSA is due November 15, 2016.

Regular Decision:  The FAFSA is due February 15, 2016.

Transfer/Combined Plan:  The FAFSA is due March 1, 2016.

Continuing Students:  The FAFSA is due May 5, 2016.

How do I log in to financial aid document tracking?

Your username will be your Columbia Applicant ID, beginning with C00. Your initial password will be your date of birth in MMDDYYYY format.

I tried to log in and received "error code IA". What should I do?

If you receive the error message 'Code IA' when attempting to log in as a first-time user, please try logging in as a returning user.

If you are still unable to log in after trying to log in as both a first-time user and a returning user, please contact our office to have your password reset.

What if all of my financial aid materials are not received by the deadline?

We accept documents after the  deadline without penalty.  Please allow up to 10 business days for documents to be processed after you have submitted them to IDOC or Columbia. We ask that you do not resubmit documents as duplicate materials will delay processing. 

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