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Columbia College and Columbia Engineering to offer same admissions and financial aid policies for undocumented applicants as U.S. citizens

Monday, November 21, 2016

Undocumented students applying to Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science will now be eligible for the same need-blind admissions and financial aid policies as U.S. Citizens and permanent residents.

Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science provide full-need financial aid to all first-year and transfer students pursuing their first degree, and have provided need-blind admissions for U.S. Citizens, permanent residents and eligible non-citizens for many years. With this change, effective for new and continuing students enrolling in Fall 2017 and pursuing their first degree, Columbia joins a small group of colleges and universities who also offer need-blind admissions and full-need aid to undocumented applicants.

“We have been working on this important policy change for the past several months. We hope this landmark change will make it clear that the voices, experiences and contributions of undocumented students are welcomed and valued here at Columbia,” said Jessica Marinaccio, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid. “Undocumented students are already making an impact in our community in countless ways, and we are pleased to be lifting the barrier of need-aware admission for future undocumented students.”

Prior to this change, undocumented students had been considered international applicants, meaning they received full-need financial aid, but their applications for admission were evaluated in a need-aware manner. For international applications at Columbia, as at many other colleges and institutions, how much financial aid a student requires is taken into consideration when rendering an admissions decision. Many international students are admitted with funding and Columbia meets 100 percent of these students’ need, regardless of citizenship.

“We are committed to bringing the greatest students to Columbia,” said James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education. “Our goal is to have a community so diverse, in every respect, that our students can learn as much from their classmates as they do from the faculty members who teach them. This policy change will help us achieve this important goal.”  

Removing barriers to college access for undocumented students is a natural extension of Columbia’s longstanding commitment to enrolling a diverse student body and desire to reflect the remarkably global city surrounding the campus. Columbia has one of the most diverse student bodies on any college campus, with students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries. Over half of Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduates are students of color; 14 percent are the first in their families to attend college and 17 percent of students qualify for Pell Grants, federal grants reserved for students with the highest need.

“Columbia University is an institution that is both of and for the great city of New York,” said Mary C. Boyce, dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor. “We will now be able to more fully embody New York’s living legacy as a port of welcome for generations of immigrants seeking the opportunity to better themselves and the world around them.”

Approximately half of Columbia undergraduates receive need-based financial aid, including approximately 30 percent of international students. Columbia financial aid is offered in the form of grants and student work, rather than loans. International students, including undocumented students, are not eligible to receive federal and state financial aid, so Columbia meets their full need entirely from institutional resources.

More than $140 million in grants and scholarships are awarded annually to undergraduates at Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, making Columbia’s financial aid program one of the most generous in the nation.

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Sydney S. Gross
Director of Communications
Columbia College
(212) 851-0291
ssgross@columbia.edu