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College Launches History-making Initiative for Financial Aid

Read more about the College's new initiative to increase support for financial aid – the largest in school history.

This message was sent from Dean Valentini to alumni, current families and past donors on May 13.

I am pleased to announce that today Columbia College is launching the largest financial aid initiative in school history, joining the University-wide effort recently made public by President Lee C. Bollinger. We are committed to raising $500 million in financial assistance by 2025, a landmark effort that will significantly expand the scholarships that ensure any student can attend and thrive at Columbia College, regardless of family income.

I am proud of our long tradition of meeting 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated financial need, but more must be done to lower the barriers to a Columbia education. Our commitment to financial aid is inspired by its triple impact: it can change the student, the College and the world. Most of us understand that financial aid transforms a student’s future. But it also ensures that a multitude of voices are present in the classroom, increasing the rigor of discourse, critical thinking and cultural fluency that define Columbia College students and alumni. Lastly, it catalyzes the ripple effects that Columbia students make in the world when they are free to pursue their greatest ambitions.

Among the scholarship recipients in the Classes of 2021 and 2022 are students who aspire to be a civil rights lawyer, a pediatric neurologist and the chief justice of the Supreme Court. We must always be able to bring this kind of talent and these kinds of aspirations to Columbia College. I believe the investment we make in these students will reward us many times over.

We are already making progress toward our goal thanks to Board of Trustees Co-Chair Jonathan Lavine ’88 and his wife, Jeannie, and their extraordinary gift to endow scholarships, which will have a long lasting effect on many College students’ lives. With their leadership, and with the strength of our alumni and parents, we have an opportunity to ensure Columbia’s famed gates welcome all students so that, as scholarship recipient Ike Ogbonna ’22 so eloquently phrased it, “the circumstances of our birth do not define the quality of our lives.”

I hope you will consider participating in this historic effort as you learn more in the coming weeks. Just think of the impact we can have together by giving future Columbia College students our full support. They need you, and the world needs them.

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