Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

Frequently Asked Questions

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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.

What is the Student Responsibility?

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

All incoming First-Year students have a minimum Student Contribution of $2,400 as part of their financial aid award; a contribution from student assets may be included. The expectation is that the student will earn this amount in the summer preceding their first academic year. Alternatively, students and their families may cover this amount with outside scholarships, savings, parental assistance, and/or other financing options if they choose to.

Student Employment is also part of the financial aid award. Students earn this amount during the Fall and Spring semesters. These earnings are generally used to pay for non-billed expenses, such as books/supplies and other personal expenses. This expectation is also not required, and may be covered by outside scholarships, savings, parental assistance, and/or other financing options.

In future years, students who obtain unpaid summer or semester internships may apply for additional grant to cover these expectations through the Work Exemption Program.

What assets are factored in when determining financial aid eligibility?

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.

What is the Parent Contribution?

The Parent Contribution is the amount the parents are expected to pay towards educational costs for the academic year. It is based on our review of the information provided to us in the financial aid application. Learn more about the variables that are considered in our analysis.

How do outside scholarships affect my Columbia financial aid award?

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

Is my award finalized?

Early Decision applicants- The financial aid award you received will be finalized based on prior year tax returns and information provided in the CSS Profile.

Regular Decision applicants- If your financial aid award was reviewed with prior year tax returns, then your financial aid eligibility is final.

Can families apply for financial aid in future years if they do not apply the first year?

US Citizens, Eligible Noncitizens and students residing in the US without legal citizenship or residency – 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.

What if my financial aid application is still incomplete?

If your financial aid application was incomplete at the time of admission, you can still complete it and receive a financial aid evaluation. Please submit the missing items at your earliest convenience. If you have any questions regarding any of the missing materials please contact our office.

How can I request a fee waiver for the CSS Profile?

The CSS Profile provides 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. Eligible applicants may apply to an unlimited number of schools free of charge. Columbia does not offer additional fee waivers to domestic students.

Low-income International students wishing to request a CSS Profile fee waiver should contact ugrad-finaid@columbia.edu.

Can I apply for financial aid after I am admitted?

US Citizens and Eligible Noncitizens – You can apply for financial aid after the recommended deadline, and financial aid eligibility will not be impacted by the time of application. We do recommend that you file by the deadline to assure you receive a timely eligibility letter.

International- 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.

How do I file corrections to the CSS Profile?

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.

Fax: 212-854-5353

Mail:

Financial Aid & Educational Financing
Columbia University
1130 Amsterdam Avenue
100 Hamilton Hall, MC 2802
New York, NY 10027
What is IDOC?

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:

https://pages.collegeboard.org/idoc

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.

How do outside scholarships affect my Columbia financial aid award?

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.

How are bills sent?

Billing at Columbia is only sent online. Students will receive an e-mail notification when a new E-Bill is generated. For parents or other third parties to receive billing notifications, the student needs to first set them up as Authorized Payers to the account. To do this, the student should log into Student Services Online (SSOL), click on Account, select the View E-Bill and Pay by E-Check option, and then go to the Authorize Payers, and set up an account for each person he/she wishes to receive the bill.

Please note that there are two different ways in which to view the account. The first is the official E-Bill. The E-Bill is a monthly snapshot of the account balance at a given time, and will not update until a new E-Bill is generated. The second is the Recent Activity section. This section is updated daily, and will reflect the most current account balance.

Is the tool accurate for parents who are self-employed or own some/all of a business, corporation and/or partnership?

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.

How does the Net Price Calculator make allowances for families with more than one student in college?

If your family will have more than one student enrolled in college (for the year in which you will enroll), our calculator assumes that the additional student will be enrolled in a four-year private undergraduate college/university. For siblings enrolled in other types of undergraduate institutions (four-year public, two-year/community college, etc.), Columbia will adjust the Parent Contribution accordingly. Columbia does not include graduate sibling's expenses in our need-based evaluation.

Do I have to use my Social Security Number on my Application?

Yes. Columbia will need the student’s full legal name (as listed on the Social Security Card) and Social Security Number (SSN) in order to download the FAFSA. If the student’s legal name and SSN were not provided in their admissions’ application, we will need a copy of the student’s Social Security Card to update our records. If you need to update the student’s SSN or legal name, please fax a copy of the student’s Social Security Card using our cover sheet.

Please be sure to list your name and Columbia ID# on the cover sheet in case the faxed document is not clear. For security reasons, do not submit this document by email.

As an undocumented student, am I eligible for financial aid?

Yes, 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. For admissions purposes, undocumented students are reviewed in a need-blind manner, without regard to financial need.

How will I pay for the flight to my Study Abroad program?

Students are expected to make their own travel arrangements to their abroad program including the purchase of a plane ticket to their destination. The Financial Aid office does not provide any assistance or additional funds to pay for a student's travel and advises that families purchase flights early to take advantage of lower prices. Eligible students will be notified via email when their refunds will be disbursed if their program begins prior to the Columbia semester start date. Otherwise, students' aid will disburse based at the beginning of the respective semester and can be monitored through their SSOL accounts under "View Student Account Detail By Term."

I hold DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status. What types of financial aid can I receive?

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, including those with DACA status, are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid, so Columbia meets their need entirely from institutional resources.

How do I cover my enrollment deposit for my Study Abroad program?

Families are expected to pay the enrollment deposit for their student's study abroad program and adhere to the deadlines set by that institution. However, a student's enrollment deposit can be deferred if they receive enough financial aid that the anticipated refund will cover the program's fees. Eligible students can visit the Office of Financial Aid to determine if their expected aid will generate a refund and complete the necessary documentation to have the payment deferred. Students should consult their specific program to understand what documentation is required in order to have their deposit deferred. Please be aware that not every student will receive a refund to defer the enrollment deposit and should expect to cover said fee in order to avoid complications with matriculation.

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