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Financial Aid
Among just a handful of universities in the United States, Columbia has fiercely maintained over the years a commitment to need-blind admissions for undergraduates.

Need-blind admissions is a policy of making admissions decisions without consideration of prospective students’ financial situations, with the general understanding that the University will help close any financial gaps that would prevent admitted students from attending. Fewer than thirty U.S. universities can or do offer what Columbia does: All admitted undergraduates, including transfer students, have a guarantee of full financial aid for all four years.

Columbia has always sought to be a place where talented students can achieve their fullest potential, even if they do not have the ability to pay the full cost of attending.

Proud of the diversity of its student body, the University is committed to continuing to expand opportunity at Columbia. Recent expansions to the financial aid program include:

Grants Replace Loans for Students from Families Earning Less Than $50,000 in Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
Beginning with the 2007-2008 academic year, students with family incomes under $50,000 will no longer be required to take out student loans; the former loan packages are being replaced with grants. Columbia committed more than $55 million for this grant aid. Note: In March 2008, the University announced further expansions of financial aid; replacing all need-based loans with grants and eliminating tuition, room, board and fees for families with incomes below $60,000.

Kluge Gift of $400 Million
Alumnus John Kluge (CC’37) recently pledged $400 million to Columbia exclusively for financial aid. Half of the gift will support and expand existing financial aid programs for Columbia College. The gift is the largest in Columbia’s history, the largest in higher education devoted exclusively to financial aid, and the fourth largest single donation to a college or university in the United States.

Capital Campaign
The University’s $4 billion fundraising campaign has a primary goal of raising $445 million for undergraduate financial aid.

Kluge Scholar Ronald Towns
Quick Facts
  • Columbia students include a higher percentage of students from low- and moderate- income families than peer institutions.

  • 13% of undergraduates at Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science receive Pell Grants, the highest rate in the Ivy League. Pell Grants are awarded to students whose families can only contribute $4,110 or less per year to the cost of their studies.

  • About half of Columbia undergraduates receive some sort of financial aid.

  • 80% of first-year students applying for financial aid receive a need-based aid award.

  • The most recent average financial aid award for entering first-years was approximately $30,000 (a combination of grant, loan, and part-time job).

Find out more at the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid and Educational Financing.

Profile: Denise De Las Nueces
“I was the first person in my family to contemplate leaving home before I got married, much less to go to college,” says Denise De Las Nueces, a former John Kluge Scholar, now at Harvard Medical School. “All I knew was Washington Heights, and it was a huge step even to live in a Columbia dorm.” What encouraged De Las Nueces to make that leap was “a scholarship that met my financial need,” she recalls, and a Columbia community that saw her potential, even when she didn’t.

“I never lacked confidence,” says De Las Nueces, “but without mentors pushing me to expect more of myself and my life, I would not be the person I am.” Staff members encouraged her to apply to Columbia, where she worked in a science lab that will publish a paper with her name on it. When she thought about applying to medical school, deans, faculty, and staff all encouraged her. As De Las Nueces considers a career in international health focusing on children, she thinks about how far she has come. “I was able to take small steps at Columbia because everyone believed in me. And those steps will enable me to take giant ones in the future.”
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