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Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions from across the offices supporting Columbia College and Columbia Engineering collected here in one place for your convenience. You can browse by topic/department or search by keyword.

Currently Enrolled Students

Are there other charges or expenses that I should be aware of?

Additional billed costs you might accrue include laboratory and language fees (for certain classes) and laundry service (optional). Some courses, particularly in the sciences and the languages have fees ranging from $5 to $150. Laundry service costs begin at $20. These charges will not appear on the first Student Account Statement, but will appear on subsequent Student Account Statements.

You should plan for additional unbilled costs for books and miscellaneous expenses. Miscellaneous expenses may include such things as academic supplies, personal items, and recreation. Our office uses a figure of $2,100 for these books and miscellaneous items when figuring the student’s cost of attendance.

In addition, you should budget for the cost of travel between home and New York. Students who will be flying to school are encouraged to take advantage of the lowest student fares available by booking as early as possible. If you do not have a travel agent, you may want to contact STA Travel at 800-777-0112 or the STA Travel Web site. We also encourage students to check online for bargains by doing a search for “student travel”.

Do I have to maintain a minimum GPA?

There is no minimum GPA requirement to qualify for financial aid. However, the student must be maintaining satisfactory academic progress towards a Columbia degree.

Do I have to pay the Health Service fee if I am covered by my parents’ medical insurance?

Yes. The Health Service fee is unrelated to medical insurance. It is a mandatory fee that gives students access to primary care, counseling, health education programs and other medical services offered by Columbia. Please consult the Guide to Health and Related Services for detailed information regarding what is covered by this fee.

How and when should I submit the renewal application for financial aid?

The deadline to submit the renewal application for financial aid is early May. We will contact you in early March with instructions on how to complete the renewal application process.

How do I apply for the New York State TAP?

The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you are a New York State resident, the federal processor will automatically send your FAFSA information to New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC). HESC will then send you a personalized TAP application for your signature. You must sign this form and return it to HESC in order to receive your TAP award.

How do I get a work study job?

Federal Work Study jobs are listed on the Federal Work Study Office website.

After you find a job that interests you, you must bring an Employment Authorization Form (available from the Federal Work Study Payroll Office in 207 Philosophy Hall) directly to the employer. If you are hired for a work study position, your employer will complete the Employment Authorization Form, which then must be returned to the Federal Work Study Payroll Office.

Non-Federal Work Study jobs are listed on the

Center for Career Education


How do I obtain an IDOC cover sheet?

All continuing students are expected to submit their renewal application materials through the College Board’s IDOC service. We will mail instructions regarding the IDOC process to your home address by mid-March. If you do not receive your IDOC instructions by this time, you can print the form from the IDOC Web site. You will need your (student) social security number and date of birth in order to access the IDOC cover sheet.

How do I waive the medical insurance if I am already covered?

Aetna Student Health manages the medical insurance waiver process for Columbia, which is separate from Health Services. An overview of the Health Insurance information may be found online at There is an online waiver form, which you must complete and return every year during the summer prior to the beginning of the academic year (and no later than September 30 each year). When they receive the waiver form and are able to determine that you receive adequate medical coverage, Aetna will take appropriate action, and you will not be billed for medical insurance. We encourage you to complete this process no later than July 15 so that an anticipated charge for medical insurance will not appear on your Student Account Statement for the fall term. Please note that the online waiver will not activate for the upcoming academic year until summer:

How do outside scholarships affect my Columbia financial aid award?

The scholarships you receive from outside sources will be used to reduce the work study portion of your financial aid package. For example, if you are awarded a $2,000 National Merit Scholarship, your work study expectation will be reduced by the full $2,000. Only after your work study has been completely eliminated will your scholarships begin to reduce any Columbia Grant you may have received.

How will I receive my earnings? Do my wages get deposited directly to my student account?

Student employees generally receive biweekly paychecks for the hours they worked. These earnings do not appear as credits on any bill received from Columbia. Instead, a paycheck will be given to the student and the money earned may be used to purchase books and other personal items.

Wages for work study jobs range from approximately $7 to $12, depending on the job and your qualifications. Most first-year students earn approximately $7-8 per hour and therefore work about ten to twelve hours a week to fulfill their work study allocation.

How will my aid change if I become a Resident Advisor (RA)?

As an RA, you will not be charged for your housing and as a result your Student Account Statement will not contain room charges. Your financial aid is adjusted to reflect your lower charges, as you will have a “Resident Advisor Stipend” as part of your financial aid package. The stipend will reduce the self-help portion of your financial aid package. If the amount of your stipend and any outside scholarships you receive exceed the self-help portion of your package then any remaining funds will be used to reduce your Columbia grant.

I will be studying abroad next year/semester. How does this affect my financial aid?

If you are participating in a study abroad program you will be charged regular tuition as if you were enrolled at Columbia. Your financial aid budget will be adjusted to reflect your costs while abroad. If your financial aid credits exceed the tuition charged then you will be issued a refund to help cover any costs incurred while abroad (e.g., room, board, books, personal expenses, travel).

May I appeal my financial aid package?
  1. YES, if your family’s financial circumstances changed after you submitted your financial aid application.
  2. YES, if you have complicated circumstances, and you would like us to take a second look at how we interpreted your family’s financial situation.

All appeals should be submitted in writing and you may do so at any time during the year. If you would like to discuss your award, please call the Office of Financial Aid and Educational Financing to speak with one of our financial aid advisors: 212-854-3711.

What happens if I change dorms or meal plans?

Your financial aid budget includes the cost of a standard residence hall room and the standard meal plan, both of which all first-year students are required to purchase. After your first year, you will no longer be required to sign up for a meal plan, however, your financial aid budget will include a food allowance based on the availability of kitchen facilities in your dorm. For dorms with no kitchen, your food allowance will be equal to the cost of the standard meal plan. For dorms with kitchens, your food allowance will be lower than the cost of the standard meal plan, since you will be able to cook some of your meals for yourself. If being on a meal plan is important to you, you should select a dormitory without kitchen facilities, so that you do not spend more on room and board than your budget allows.

What is your policy towards renewing my financial aid?

For each year of attendance at Columbia, you will need to submit a new financial aid application which will be evaluated using the same methods and criteria that were used when you were admitted. Since the cost of attendance increases each year, for the typical family the financial aid package will increase in order to keep up with the cost increase. However, if your family circumstances have changed (e.g., changes in income, number of people in the household, the number of children who are full-time undergraduate students), then your financial aid award will be adjusted to take these changes into account.

When and where are bills sent?

At Columbia we call each bill a Student Account Statement. You will be sent the first Student Account Statement for the fall term in late July or early August, and the first statement for the spring term in early December. The payment due date will be approximately 30 days after the first Student Account Statement for the term has been sent.

In addition, you will receive monthly Student Account Statements when there is a current activity on your account (a new charge or credit), or if a debit or credit balance remains on your account.

Student Account Statements will not be mailed home. Instead you will be able to view your Student Account Statement via Student Services Online (SSOL). Also, on SSOL you may authorize your parent(s) to view the E-Bill.

When will I receive my financial aid award letter?

Financial aid award letters for continuing students are mailed the end of June.

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