How to Pay for Columbia University

With a picturesque campus on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and top rankings for most of its programs, it might be easy to forget about the cost of attending while studying at Columbia University.

With more than 20 different schools (and a few different campuses), from the College of Physicians and Surgeons to Columbia Business School to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, students have a wide range of options while studying at Columbia. Regardless of your program, read on for more details on how to pay for your Columbia education.

How much does it cost to attend Columbia?

The cost of attending Columbia will depend on which degree program you are enrolled. Undergraduate tuition for the 2015-2016 academic year was $53,000, with the total cost of attendance (housing, food, books, etc.) estimated to be near $70,000.

Columbia Business School students paid an estimated $65,988 in tuition and $99,824 per year inclusive of all expenses. Tuition for Columbia Law School students in the 2015-2016 school year was $60,624 and totaled $88,530 including all expenses. Medical student tuition was $57,634, with total expenses estimated between $87,000 and $95,000, depending on the year of medical school.

What kind of financial aid does Columbia offer?

For undergraduate students, Columbia’s aid scheme relies on a number of principles, including “no loans” meaning students are not expected to take out loans to pay for their education, as well as $0 parent contribution for families with an annual income of less than $60,000. This aid is provided through the Columbia Grant, which is awarded based on financial need, as well as federal and state grants, including the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grant for residents of New York state.

Students accepted to Columbia Business School will be considered for a number of different scholarships and fellowships. Scholarships are most often need-based, and the amount awarded can range from $7,500-$30,000 depending on available funds. The business school also offers a number of different programs to assist military and veteran students.

Columbia Business School fellowships, on the other hand, are awarded to talented students based on “academic excellence, geographic and personal background, and professional experience.” 

The funds for these fellowships come from a mix of individual, corporate, and foundation donors. For example, the Project Charity Trust Fellowship covers partial tuition and is awarded to students from the European Union. For the remainder of tuition and other expenses not covered by fellowship or scholarship, federal and private loans are the route taken by more than 50% of Columbia’s MBA students.

Columbia Law School helps students pay for their education in similar ways to the medical school. This assistance includes need-based grants, fellowships awarded at the time of admission, and awards specific to veteran students. Medical students are encouraged to apply for outside scholarships, and they can also apply for scholarships awarded by the school, such as The Alan and Ruth Borenstein Medical Scholarship Fund.

What kinds of extras should I expect to pay for at Columbia?

Chances are you won’t want to deal with a car in Manhattan, which will help reduce your transportation costs. Then again, you will be living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. In addition to a budget for warm clothes for the winter months, keep in mind the wide range of dining and entertainment options that will constantly tempt you in the Big Apple.

If you plan to live off-campus while at Columbia, consider that what you pay for rent in another city likely won’t compare to apartment prices in Manhattan. Columbia does have an Off-Campus Housing Assistance office, which helps students find apartments, sublets, and roommates, but securing an apartment may prove difficult for students with no income, so make sure to plan far in advance if you’re set on living off-campus.

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