Advisory: Cash Payments Will Not Be Accepted as of November 1, 2016
- As of November 1, 2016, the University will no longer accept cash payments for student accounts. You can pay your tuition and other charges by check, wire, e-payment, Western Union, and money order. Most Columbia students already use one of these options.
Get prepared for November 1. Learn more about your payment options. You can also read the FAQ below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the University no longer accepting cash for tuition payment?
Beginning November 1, 2016, the University will cease to accept cash for student payments. For a number of years, Columbia students have increasingly relied on various non-cash forms of payment. During the same period, the use of cash payments has significantly decreased. This trend is similar at other universities, a number of which no longer accept cash payments.
What other payment options do I have?
Columbia students mainly use non-cash payment options that include check, wire, E-payment, Western Union and money orders. If you have cash, you can deposit your cash into your bank account and use any of these methods to pay the University. Use the links below to find step-by-step instructions for each method.:
How will this change be communicated? Who will be notified?
Prior to the effective date of November 1, 2016, there will be a focused communication effort to notify and remind both domestic and international students as well as campus administrators that cash will no longer be accepted. Students will be notified of the change in advance through a variety of targeted channels so that those using cash can plan to use alternative payment methods. This will be done via:
- Various student orientations – students will be informed of the change in policy but also advised of need to set up a bank account
- Email announcements to enrolled students who have paid with cash in recent terms
- The websites of Student Financial Services and the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO)
- Posters and flyers at the cashier offices at the Morningside and Medical Center campuses
- University forums including Senior Business Officer calls, the Columbia University Financial Aid Community (CUFAC), the Student Account Billing User Group (SABUG), and the ISSO
Have other universities stopped accepting cash as a payment option for student tuition?
Yes, a number of other universities no longer accept cash for student tuition.
I have cash and I want to make a payment after November 1, 2016. What should I do?
There will continue to be many alternative payment methods available to students:
If you arrive at the cashier office with cash on November 1, 2016 or later, you will be directed to your own bank or bank of choice where you can deposit your cash into an account and use any of the methods above to pay the University. The Student Financial Services website provides step-by-step instructions for each of these methods.
I am a domestic student but I don't have a bank account. What should I do?
If you do not have a bank account, you can open one with any bank of your choice to pay tuition. You can visit local banks in and around the University’s campuses.
If you do not want to open a bank account, you can purchase a money order (up to variable limits) at the U.S. Post Office, Duane Reade stores and check cashing locations near campus.
I am an international student and I typically use cash to make my tuition payment. What should I do?
You can open a U.S. bank account. To learn how, go to the Your First Week (Students) page at the International Students & Scholars Office site. Scroll down to the section, “Open a U.S. Bank Account,” and read the instructions.
I am an undocumented student. What should I do?
If you are an undocumented student, you can also open a bank account. However, the requirements vary from bank to bank. Several banks allow customers to open an account with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and proof of identity. Others will require a foreign passport and a college ID with photo. Santander Bank has confirmed that they will allow any undocumented students to open up a student bank account as long as they have a passport from their home country. For undocumented students who do not have a passport, they can get a money order using other forms of identification.
What does it cost to open a bank account or to get a money order?
The cost of opening a bank account may vary. Students should consult their bank of choice for specific cost information. Columbia has negotiated student banking services with Santander Bank and for most students, there is no cost for opening a bank account.
Money orders can cost anything from $1-$2 each depending on the value and the location from which the money is being sent.
I have a check or money order. Can I use one of these to pay my student tuition?
Yes, checks and money orders will still be accepted for student tuition. Checks and money orders in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank account should be made payable to Columbia University and can be mailed to the University processing center indicated below.
Student Account Payments
P.O. Box 1385
New York, New York 10008-1385
I have a credit card. Can I use it to pay my student tuition?
No. The University does not accept credit card payments for student accounts.
After the effective date of November 1, 2016, would you turn away students holding cash and risk them leaving campus with cash on hand? What about their safety?
Students will be notified of the change in advance of the effective date of November 1, 2016, so that they can thoroughly consider alternative payment methods. If a student should arrive at the cashier office with cash, they will be directed to their own bank or bank of choice. In the case of international students, they can open a bank account immediately upon arrival in the United States.
What about emergency cash needs for students?
At this time, there will be no change to the emergency cash process.
What will change for University departments that make cash deposits?
At this time, there will be no change to the cash deposit process for departments. Departments will still be able to make deposits at the cashier offices on the Morningside and Medical Center campuses.
Who can I talk to about making cash payments after November 1?
After November 1, the University will no longer accept cash payments for student accounts. Students will continue to have a range of non-cash options for making payments that include check, wire, E-payment, Western Union and money order. Assistance is available to students for all the non-cash methods of payment. Learn about the methods available to you and how to contact the right department if you need help.
For cash payments made before November 1, 2016 and greater than $10,000, you will need to complete IRS Form 8300 at the Cashier's window. Beginning November 1, 2016, cash payments in any amount will no longer be accepted.