Students who are accepted to Columbia University often question how to best finance a college degree that comes with a hefty price tag. While Columbia University maintains a number of school-specific scholarships, they also encourage students to apply for other types of financial aid. In order to maximize your chances of getting a scholarship to Columbia, it is imperative to understand their approach to doling out financial aid.
Columbia University adheres to a need-based and need-blind admission’s policy. This means that students are accepted to Columbia without regard for their ability to pay. As such, the university agrees to cover 100% of the demonstrated cost of financial need for first time freshmen and transfer students. While this seems great up front, there are some caveats to be aware of before deciding whether Columbia is the right university.
In order to determine need, students are required to fill out the FAFSA application. Students who are dependents of parents who are in the upper class are unlikely to receive much aid. However, students who come from low-income backgrounds will benefit the most from the university’s need-based, need-blind policy. For example, students who come from families who earn less than $60,000 are not expected to contribute to the cost of a Columbia education. However, families who earn more will be required to pay a portion of the education. The second consideration to keep in mind is the the university only covers the gap between what the FAFSA determines that your parents can contribute and the actual cost of education. Even then, this amount is only guaranteed for the first year of study. Students can read more about how Columbia University determines financial aid eligibility at the following website: https://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/how/determine-eligibility.
The university offers a variety of different types of scholarships to eligible students. Some of these scholarships, such as the Tuition Assistance Program grant, are provided to Columbia students through the New York State government. These awards are only open to students who are residents of NY. Both NY students and residents of other states can receive funding from federal grants, such as the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant or the Pell Grant. The university also maintains its own internal grant, called the Columbia Grant, which is given out based on financial need.
In addition, students from Columbia have had success in applying for outside grants. The university maintains a website with information regarding outside scholarships and it can be seen here: http://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/content/outside-scholarships. Students can also register with a free online search engine, such as Fastweb or schoalrships.com, in order to find outside scholarships that best meet their background and interests. Students may also qualify for work-study scholarships through the university. Lastly, students should consider checking with their academic department. Often, academic departments maintain their own budgets and thus are able to offer teaching assistantships or research assistantships to stellar candidates. As a last resort, students can find information on applying for loans at the following website: http://cc-seas.financialaid.columbia.edu/education-loans.