In addition to these frequently asked questions, we encourage you to explore our website to learn more about our financial aid policies and how you can apply for aid. We are here to work with you and your family in developing a plan to pay for college at Columbia University. Students and parents may review available financing options. Financial Aid Officers are also here to answer any questions prospective, newly admitted, or current students/parents may have.
Frequently Asked Questions
Students may be funded by their academic department. Any students who receive these funds are notified at the time of admission. There is no separate application process. Students may also search for available scholarships and fellowships online: http://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/other-funding.
Loan eligibility is directly tied to the number of credits you are enrolled in each semester. If you add or drop a class after your loans have been processed, our office will make adjustments as appropriate based on your new loan eligibility. Students who drop below half-time will no longer be eligible for federal student loans.
Federal loans have a variety of repayment options, low fees and fixed interest rates for the life of the loan. Private loans may have lower interest rates, but these rates are often not fixed, and fees can vary. It is up to each borrower to choose the loan that makes the most sense for their individual needs. We recommend speaking with a Financial Aid Officer if you have questions prior to borrowing.
Students may borrow up to the full cost of attendance in student loans. However, we recommend only borrowing what you need: this may be only to cover billed expenses or it may be to cover both billed and non-billed expenses. If you have questions about your borrowing need, please contact our office to speak with a Financial Aid Officer. Additionally if students receive any type of other funding, please note your loan eligibility will change.
International students may seek private lenders for available education loans. Some lenders may require a U.S. co-signer. Columbia offers a suggested lender list online, but students may choose a lender not on that list as well.
Students may view their bill online through their SSOL account.
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.
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.
In cases where a student’s financial aid overpays the billed charges, and a surplus is formed, this credit will be refunded to the student via check or direct deposit. To set up direct deposit, the student should log into Student Services Online (SSOL) and click on the Refund option.
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.
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.
All full-time students are by default enrolled in the Gold level of the Columbia Plan. To request a waiver from default enrollment, you must submit a request online before September 30 (February 15 for new Spring enrollment or June 15 for new full-time Summer trimester students). All requests are considered but approval is not guaranteed. A waiver must be submitted for each year of enrollment at Columbia. Information on waiving the medical insurance fee is available on the Health Services website.
While individual dining choices will vary, financial aid recipients will receive aid based on a room and meals budget of $13,644*, which includes the new housing rate of $9,292* and meal costs of $4,352* (equivalent to Meal Plan B). Regardless of which residence hall you select, your financial aid will cover your housing cost and up to 175 meals and 200 Dining Dollars or Flex per term.
We recommend that students speak with a financial aid officer if they have any questions on this topic prior to making their housing and meal plan selections.
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.
Financial aid generally can be used to help cover the expenses of a study abroad program that grants academic credit during the Fall or Spring semesters. As part of the application process for studying abroad, the Office for Global Programs (OGP) requires students to meet with a financial aid officer to discuss the impact on the financial aid award. Please bring in the OGP form to meet with an officer during any of our walk-in hours.
The cost of a computer is not part of the student budget. Student loans are available to cover a computer that is purchased during the academic year. If you are interested in borrowing a loan to cover the cost of a computer please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have an outside scholarship that exceeds the amount of your Student Contribution (SC) and Work Expectation, the cost of the computer may be able to be covered by the scholarship.
Whether borrowing a loan or receiving an outside scholarship to cover the cost, you will be asked to provide a receipt of the purchase.
Yes. The Health Service Fee is a mandatory fee to all students residing on campus, and enables students access to the services offered by Columbia’s Health Services (the on-campus infirmary).
Please note that this fee is separate from the Student Health Insurance cost, which can be waived for students who are otherwise covered.
For additional information please visit the Health Services site: http://www.health.columbia.edu/.
The financial aid budget traditionally includes an amount to account for the cost of housing. As an RA, you will not be charged for housing. Your financial aid award will be adjusted to reflect the lower charges. The award will be simultaneously adjusted to reduce the Student Contribution (SC) and Fall/Spring semester work-expectation.
Please note that if you have any outside scholarships already reducing the SC and/or Work Expectation, this may impact the RA benefit.
For any questions on the direct impact on your award we recommend you meet with a financial aid officer during walk-in hours.
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.
The FSA ID allows students and parents to identify themselves electronically to access FSA Web sites. An FSA ID is made up of a username and password and can be used to log into FAFSA on the Web.
While you are not required to have an FSA ID to complete and submit a FAFSA application, it is the fastest way to sign your application and have it processed. It is also the only way to access or correct your information online, or to pre-fill a FAFSA application with information from your previous year’s FAFSA.
If you do not have an FSA ID, you can create one on the following page: https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm
If you have an FSA ID but do not remember your username, click Forgot Username.
If you have an FSA ID but do not remember your password, click Forgot Password.