Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

Types of Aid

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A Columbia financial aid award may consist of several types of resources to meet a student’s demonstrated financial need.

Columbia Grant

Columbia Grant, which does not need to be repaid, is need-based funding provided by the University to assist students with their educational costs. The Columbia Grant is awarded to eligible students based on their demonstrated financial need as determined by our office.

Federal Grants

Eligibility for any federal grant is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal grants include the Pell Grant and the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG). Federal grants will be included in the financial aid awards of eligible students.

State Grants

New York state residents may be eligible for a Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grant. Eligibility is determined by the FAFSA and the NY State TAP Application. The FAFSA will prompt NY residents to complete a TAP application after submission. Our office will confirm TAP eligibility during the financial aid review process.

Other Grants/Outside Scholarships

Many Columbia students receive awards from various organizations, including merit-based scholarships, employer tuition benefits, and ROTC and Veteran’s Benefits (Post-911 GI Bill® benefits). These scholarships can be used to reduce the Student Contribution and Student Employment portions of the financial aid award. Scholarships exceeding the total of the Student Contribution and Student Employment will reduce the Columbia Grant by the excess amount. Scholarships may not be used to reduce or pay the Parent Contribution. Learn more about how scholarships are incorporated into a financial aid award.

Student Employment

All financial aid recipients are expected to contribute towards the Student Responsibility, which consists of the Student Contribution and Student Employment.

The Student Contribution is based on a standard amount students are expected to earn for their college expenses by working over the summer. It may also include a portion from student assets.

Student Employment reflects the amount we expect students to earn during the academic year. Term-time employment (on-campus jobs) can include either Federal Work-Study or Student Employment (casual work). Both on-campus and off-campus jobs are available for students to meet the term-time expectation.

Students who do not work may cover their work expectation with savings, an outside scholarship, a student loan, or family resources. Columbia also offers additional funding to allow students to pursue unpaid research, internship, and community service opportunities. Students may also want to consider becoming a Residential Adviser after freshman year.


Columbia does not meet financial need with loans, and so loans are not included as part of the initial financial aid award. However, families may borrow loans to finance a portion or all of their Family Contribution. Student and parent loans can be applied for through our website. We recommend speaking to a Financial Aid Officer prior to applying for loans to determine individual eligibility and borrowing needs.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at