Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

COVID-19 Financial Aid Updates

Home / COVID-19 Financial Aid Updates / COVID-19 Financial Aid Updates

FAQs for Fall 2020


The Fall 2020 E-Bill's were produced prior to President Bollinger's announcement on Friday, August 14th. Therefore the current E-Bills are incorrect and do not incorporate the changes that were noted in his communication as well as those communicated by Dean Valentini and Dean Boyce. Our office sent revised eligibility letters on Tuesday, August 25th. Once a student has received a revised eligibility letter, the Current Activity section of SSOL will be updated with the revised aid eligibility. We understand that some housing charges are still on student's e-bills. Our understanding is that housing charges will be updated around August 29th. If your Housing contract has been canceled and your Housing charges are still on your bill, you can assume that they will be removed before the bill is due.

Can I get a Federal Workstudy job?

The US Department of Education has very specific eligibility requirements for Federal Workstudy Employment. One part of the requirements involves how much other financial aid a student is receiving. Given that all aided students are now receiving an additional grant to offset the Fall Student Work Expectation and that a large number of aided students are also receiving the Summer Employment Grant, many of these students will experience either a reduction or an elimination of their eligibility for Federal Workstudy. The only way for a student to regain this eligibility would be for our office to reduce a student’s grant based aid, which is not something that would benefit students.

The addition of the Student Employment Grant to replace the fall work expectation has impacted most students' eligibility for Federal Workstudy. Our office has awarded Federal Workstudy to a number of students since the start of the term. You can check your financial aid awards on our Online Financial Aid System to see if you have been awarded Federal Workstudy. Once determinations are made regarding the spring term, we will have more information on the spring work requirement.

Appeal Timeline:

We are currently evaluating financial aid appeals. A student should only submit a financial aid appeal after they have received their initial financial aid eligibility letter. If you have already received your eligibility letter and would like to request an appeal, please review our Request an Appeal webpage for more guidance on this process and follow the steps outlined to submit your appeal. Once your appeal has been received and we have all the documentation required, you can expect a decision within 10-14 business days. Decisions will be made more quickly for appeals that are initially submitted with all relevant and appropriate documentation.

Why does my Cost of Attendance include $8,000 for room and board? I plan on being remote for the year.

If you are remote for the year, you will not be billed by Columbia Housing and Dining for $8,000. The Cost of Attendance (financial aid budget) is an estimate of how much it will cost, (both billed and unbilled costs) to attend Columbia for the year. Students who are living off-campus will still need to provide for their housing and meals. To account for these costs, $8,000 has been allocated to the Cost of Attendance for students who are not living on campus. This helps in recognizing that there will be unbilled costs that you will face while living remotely and it adjusts your grants to account for that. Please review our Understanding the Housing Allowance Document for more information on how this impacts your financial aid.

I have chosen to live off-campus and need more money to pay for rent. How can I increase my grant?

If you need additional funding for off-campus housing, you have the option of borrowing a student loan. We are not able to award additional Columbia Grant to offset higher off-campus housing costs.

When will my loan be processed?

Loans will be processed as packages are finalized for on or off-campus attendance.

When will I find out if I will receive the Summer 2020 Earnings Grant?

Students received notification of their Summer 2020 Earnings Grant application status on Monday, July 13. More information on the Summer 2020 Earnings Grant can be found here: .

How will students who may face challenges meeting their student contributions this year be supported?

Columbia College and Columbia Engineering will be waiving the Fall Student Employment expectation by awarding students who are institutional aid recipients and have a work expectation with a Fall Student Employment Grant. This grant will be incorporated in all eligibility letters from Monday, August 24th and later.

When will I receive my financial aid eligibility letter?

Most financial aid applicants have received their financial aid eligibility letters at this point. If you haven't, please contact us at and ask about the status of your award.

How do I check the status of my financial aid application?

You can review the status of your application requirements by logging into Columbia’s Online Financial Aid System. Once logged in, go to the Documents and Messages page and make certain that all documents required for packaging are listed as ‘Received’.

Will there be financial support for students who live at home?

When calculating financial aid awards for students living off-campus, Columbia College and Columbia Engineering will include an off-campus living allowance of $4,000 per semester to help with living and technology expenses related to remote learning.

Will there be financial support for students who choose to live off campus but not at home?

Students who live off campus but not at home will be provided with the same remote living costs allocation as students who reside at home.

How much will tuition and mandatory fees be?

Undergraduate tuition and fees for 2020-2021 has been set at $31,440 per semester (fall and spring) or $62,880 for the full academic year.

To enhance the experience of attending Columbia in this unprecedented academic year, Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students who enroll in both fall and spring will also be able to take classes for a third term, Summer 2021, at no additional tuition charge. In addition, the maximum credit hours for this year have been increased to 40 credits, thereby allowing students greater progress towards their degree, if they desire. The 40 credits can be spread over the three semesters of fall, spring and summer.

How much will next year’s cost of attendance be?

Please visit:

I typically have a zero Parent Contribution and will be living at home for the year. Will I get support for my remote living costs?

Once your financial aid package is updated with the remote budget and if your financial aid exceeds the balance on your student account, you will receive a refund that can be used to help pay for your remote living costs. Refunds are issued once there is a credit-balance on your student account after the start of the semester.

What happens to my financial aid if I need to take a leave of absence in the middle of the term?

Information on withdrawals can be found here:

If I take courses in the summer, do I have to pay for housing?

Housing for Summer term is an additional expense. The application for Summer housing will be available next Spring. Summer courses will also be available online, and therefore can be taken from whatever location you are in.

Will a voluntary leave count toward my 8 semesters of aid eligibility?

Taking a voluntary leave may impact financial aid eligibility. If you take a voluntary withdrawal or leave after the start of the semester, that semester may count toward your eight semesters of financial aid eligibility. You will, thus, either need to petition for an additional semester upon your return or apply for confirmation that the semester on leave did not impact your existing aid eligibility.

If you process your leave before the start of the term and no charges are assessed to your student account, the term will not count towards your 8 semesters of aid.

Can I update my financial aid application if my parent has lost a job due to the coronavirus outbreak?

If your family’s financial situation has changed significantly from what was originally reported in your application materials, please follow the steps below:

- If you have already received your eligibility letter for 2020-2021, please review the information on our Request an Appeal webpage to learn more about the appeal process.

- If you have not received your eligibility letter for 2020-2021, please wait until you receive your eligibility letter before you submit your appeal.

If I am not back on campus or in NY for the fall, what will happen to my belongings in storage? Will Columbia pay for shipping or additional storage?

Information on how to retrieve items in storage can be found here: At this time, we do not have funds to assist with this process.

More answers and guidance can be found on Columbia College webpage, Our Path Forward: FAQs for Fall 2020

Contacting Our Office

Financial Aid and Educational Financing is currently closed for in-office visits and phone calls. Instead, you can reach us by e-mailing or by requesting a Virtual Appointment.