Options to Fund Your Education

On This Page:

Meeting Diverse Needs  |  Scholarships and Grants  |  Outside Awards  Jobs  |  Loans

Meeting Diverse Needs

Columbia University’s educational financing options consist of federal, state, institutional and private sources of funds that will help meet the diverse needs of the student population. Columbia recognizes the importance of choices in educational financing and hopes that the options provided will be useful in planning and managing educational expenses.


There are four main types of financial aid:

  1. Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships, fellowships and grants are called gift aid because they do not have to be paid back. They may come from governments, colleges and private organizations. They may be awarded for academic or athletic ability, interest in a certain subject, or volunteer work, for example. Some scholarships are given based on membership in an ethnic or religious group. Companies may also give scholarships to children of employees.

Learn more about scholarships, fellowships and grants.

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  1. Outside Awards

Students may be eligible for a specific scholarship or grant from an outside agency. Some sources to explore are employers, unions, professional organizations, special interest groups, and the Internet.

Learn more about outside awards.

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  1. Jobs

The Work-Study program is a form of financial assistance that is partially funded by the U.S. federal government and provides students a means of part-time employment.

Assistantships are a form of academic employment that pays students a stipend and/or provides free or reduced tuition in exchange for tasks students perform for a faculty member, the department, or the college.

Theses forms of aid can vary in amounts and availability by school, and can be awarded based on need and/or merit.

Learn more about Work-Study at Columbia.

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  1. Loans

Borrowing money from a bank, government or lending company is called taking out a loan. A loan must be paid back with an extra charge called interest. The federal government offers low-interest loans to students with financial need. Other lenders charge more interest.

To be eligible for education loans from private sources, applicants must demonstrate that they have managed debt responsibly. Unlike most federally sponsored loans that have either no credit requirements or minimal credit criteria, private lenders carefully review credit history to determine eligibility for their loan programs.

Learn more about loan options.

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