Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 67.06
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date April 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Columbia University
PA-8: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.86 / 4.00 Kendra Lider-Johnson
Director of Marketing & Communications
Columbia College/SEAS Admissions & Financial Aid
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Does the institution have policies and programs in place to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:

A brief description of any policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students:

Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science offer incredibly generous full need financial aid packages to undergraduates admitted as first year and transfer students, and we guarantee to meet the full need for all four years of study. We meet the full demonstrated financial need of families with a combination of grant and work study aid. Parents with total incomes under $60,000 and with typical assets are not expected to contribute anything to the cost of education of their student. Parents with incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 and with typical assets have a reduced Parent Contribution towards the cost of education. Loans are not part of our financial aid packages. For continuing students at General Studies we launched a need enhancement program in 2008 designed to assist the students in our undergraduate program with the highest demonstrated need. This program is designed to make the academic program more affordable and reduce the need for outside loans and limit overall borrowing costs.
In addition, we have the Program for Academic Leadership and Services at GS (PALS) that is targeted at socio-economically disadvantaged students. It’s a full tuition scholarship program and offers significant aid to a segment of our population with the most financial need.

A brief description of any programs to equip the institution’s faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:

The Office of Multicultural Affairs conducts a variety of diversity training programs to prepare for the diverse student population they will encounter at Columbia. Trainings include, but are not limited to, Under One Roof diversity training; Safe Zone training around sexual orientation, and other diversity-related training sessions available for the Columbia community.

A brief description of any programs to prepare students from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

Columbia’s Center for Student Advising (CSA) runs a First-in-Family initiative, designed to support students who are the first generation in their families and/or low-income students to attend college. Recognizing that this population is more likely to struggle academically and less likely to graduate in 4 years, CSA holds workshops on time management and career exploration, specific sessions for first-generation students and families at the New Student Orientation Program and Homecoming and matches first-year students with upperclassmen mentors, all with the goal of ensuring that students achieve academically and graduate on time.
Columbia’s ARISE (Academic Resources in Support of Excellence) program provides tutoring resources in math, statistics and chemistry, recognizing that these are often subjects where students coming from under-resourced backgrounds and under-served schools sometimes struggle. This fall Columbia launched a co-curricular initiative called Mastery Through Academic Coaching (MTAC) where students have the option of attending small-group tutoring sessions for Introductory Biology, a required first-year class for STEM majors. As part of our program students receive rigorous preparation for the transition to Columbia, including financial counseling and support.

We also run a program called university studies, and while this program is offered to a broad group of GS students, this program does offer specific transition support for student from all backgrounds, including low income students.

A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

All financial aid is need-based. We do not offer any sort of merit scholarship. See above for information about our need-based financial aid program, which is one of the most generous in the nation for low-income students.

A brief description of any programs to guide parents of low-income students through the higher education experience:

We provide information to families on the financial aid process in a variety of ways including our web site, through email and phone contact with our office, in person visits and presentations we give both on and off campus.

A brief description of any targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

See above section on our financial aid policies.

A brief description of other admissions policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

We use a holistic review process when evaluating applicants for admission. That means admission to Columbia is not based on a simple formula of grades and test scores. Instead, we consider a variety of factors: the student’s academic record, extracurricular interests, intellectual achievements and personal background. We pay particular attention to the context from which a student is coming and what resources may have been available to them. We strive to admit a class diverse in every way, including socioeconomic background and circumstance.
In addition, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions targets high schools across the country who have a high proportion of college-bound low income students and sends admissions officers to visit these schools, speaking both about Columbia and higher education in general. We also partner closely with community-based organizations and non-profits that promote college access and visit dozens of CBOs each year and host countless groups for on-campus visits. We have particularly close relationships with organizations in the greater New York City area. Columbia also partners with QuestBridge, a non-profit organization which identifies high-achieving, low-income students, assists them with the college search and application process and works to connect them to educational opportunities at 32 partner colleges. We currently have almost 100 QuestBridge Scholars on campus.

A brief description of other financial aid policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

See above section on our financial aid policies.

A brief description of other policies and programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students not covered above:

For decades Columbia University has supported high-achieving, low-income students through the New York State Arthur O. Eve Higher Educational Opportunity Program (HEOP) and our own National Opportunity Program (NOP). These need-based programs provide enhanced academic and financial assistance for a select group of Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students, including a Summer Bridge program before the first year and specialized advising, mentoring and tutoring resources. Additionally, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions conducts targeted outreach to low-income high school students to inform them about Columbia’s academic opportunities and admissions and financial aid process. This outreach includes mailings, e-mail messages, phone calls and invitations to special online chats and webinars.

Does the institution have policies and programs in place to support non-traditional students?:

A brief description of any scholarships provided specifically for part-time students:

Columbia University has a college dedicated to serving the needs of nontraditional students. The School of General Studies of Columbia University is the finest liberal arts college in the United States created specifically for returning and nontraditional students seeking a rigorous, traditional, Ivy League undergraduate degree full or part time.
In addition to aid from federal and state governments or private sources, GS students may apply for institutional aid. Institutional aid for GS students is derived from three sources: endowment returns, annual gifts, and general University funds.
All prospective and current students are eligible to apply for a GS scholarship regardless of enrollment status (part or full time) or academic history.

A brief description of any onsite child care facilities, partnerships with local facilities, and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students:

Affiliated Child Care Centers: Columbia University has agreements with nine independently run child care centers. Some are on University property and some are not. Columbia provides financial support to these centers to help support operational costs and financial aid funding in exchange for prioritizing the enrollment of Columbia families.
Child Care Subsidy: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences provides fully funded PhD or DMA student parents with a $1,000 child care subsidy for each child under the age of 5
Work/Life Website: Provides lists of early education and child care centers near campus and other useful information.
Backup Care: 100 hours of subsidized backup child care and adult/elder care is available to doctoral students

A brief description of other policies and programs to support non-traditional students:

Columbia participates in the Army, Air Force, and Naval ROTC programs. Both the New York City Army and Air Force ROTC programs include students from schools throughout the New York City area.
The Naval ROTC program is based at Columbia, having been officially recognized by the University

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (accessibility and affordability indicators)?:

Indicators that the institution is accessible and affordable to low-income students::
Percentage (0-100)
The percentage of entering students that are low-income 17
The graduation/success rate for low-income students 96
The percentage of student financial need met, on average 100
The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt 73

The percentage of students that participate in or directly benefit from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students:

The website URL where information about the institution's affordability and access programs is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.