About Financial Aid
Every year, half of the students who walk through the 116th Street gates can do so only because of the generosity of our alumni, parents and friends. Many of our students never imagined they would be able to afford to attend Columbia but being gifted with a Columbia College education instantly reshaped their life.
Financial aid gifts accomplish even more than that. They also change the College as a whole — and the world, by catalyzing the ripple effects that Columbia students make when they are fully empowered. A financial aid gift makes a triple impact, shaping the student, the College and the world. It’s the one gift that can change everything.
Financial Aid Snapshot
How Financial Aid Changes Students’ Lives
Alumni, parents and friends like you make it possible for a new class of students to walk through the Columbia gates each year. They come from every corner of the U.S. and from all over the world. They come from every kind of background imaginable. Their experiences, perspectives and passions are wildly diverse. In fact, they contribute to one of the most diverse student bodies in the Ivy League.
But they all have something in common with each other — and with you: they want to make the world a better place. And they chose Columbia to help them do so.
Sometimes, scholarships help to pay a student’s entire way but equally important are gifts that close the financial gap just enough so they can say Yes to Columbia. With that Yes, a student’s entire future changes. Financial aid donors hear this first-hand from students who thank them each year in letters:
“Whatever I have achieved during my time at Columbia would have been impossible without the support you have provided.”
“It is only through your support that I have been able to experience one of the best institutions and live in a city like New York.”
“I will be eternally grateful, to you and all who work to make sure that the circumstances of our birth do not define the quality of our lives.”
Who receives Financial Aid?
How Financial Aid Changes the College
Research shows that diverse groups reach higher levels of cognitive activity than homogenous groups. Students work harder to prepare for discussion when they anticipate responding to alternative perspectives or experiences. It is not an exaggeration to say that increasing financial aid increases the intellectual rigor of the entire student body.
By ensuring that a multitude of voices are present in the classroom, you improve the discourse, critical thinking, cultural fluency, and analytic challenges that are so formative for Columbia College students. What would a Core course be without dissenting opinions and alternative interpretations?
Your financial aid gift also makes Columbia more Columbian. Columbia College has always had a unique ability to mirror the world in its student body makeup and is consistently more diverse in more ways than other peer schools. By contributing to financial aid, you help create one of the most talented, diverse, and intelligent gatherings of students in the world. You also ensure that, no matter what a student’s starting line is in life, all Columbia students have the opportunity to reach the same finish line.
How Financial Aid Changes the World
When freed from financial worry, Columbia College students can chase their passions, which often happen to be making the world a better place. Financial aid gifts also support students choosing careers that serve the public good but are not sufficiently remunerative. By helping to bring a student to Columbia, you catalyze the ripple effects they can make in the world.
Among past financial aid recipients, there is a world-renowned investigative journalist, a U.S. Attorney General, and a New York Times bestselling author. Among the scholarship recipients in the Class 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 of the United States.
What kind of change will you create in the world by supporting the next Columbia students? They’ll change the world, if you help them.
We are proud of our tradition of meeting 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need for all four years of study. Your gifts make this ambitious and progressive financial aid policy possible. Only a handful of our peers have made and kept similar policies.
In early April 2021, President Lee Bollinger announced a new, University-wide effort dedicated to raising $1.4 billion in financial assistance for students by June 2025. This is the largest financial aid campaign in the history of the University.
Why now? Because we need to do much more to sustain and strengthen financial assistance for students. From the hardships and uncertainties of the pandemic to renewed awareness of systemic racism, recent events have made us more aware than ever of student vulnerabilities and the imperative of ensuring access for all, regardless of socioeconomic background. This initiative meets the moment while addressing a long-term Columbia priority.
“We have for many years made financial aid a priority and have dedicated our resources accordingly, but there is more to do. This campaign, and the resulting support for our students, will begin a new era for Columbia.”
— Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University