Columbia University, an Ivy League research institution in New York City, is one of the oldest and most respected universities in the country.
If you’re considering applying to Columbia, here’s what you need to know about the admissions process, the Columbia acceptance rate, tuition, financial aid, and more.
Total Cost of Attendance
In 2021-2022, Columbia University tuition and other expenses were as follows:
• Columbia tuition: $63,530, a 3% increase over the previous year
• Books and supplies: $1,342, a 1.8% increase over the previous year
• On-campus room and board: $15,450, a 24.7% increase over the previous year
• Other costs (on campus): $2,262, a 1.9% increase over the previous year
• Off-campus room and board: $20,565, a 12% increase over the previous year
• Other costs (off campus): $5,445, a 1.7% increase over the previous year
Total costs, then, are as follows:
• On-campus total: $82,584, a 6.4% increase over the previous year
• Off-campus total: $90,882, a 4.8% increase over the previous year
Columbia University is need blind, which means applications are considered without factoring in the financial needs of the student. In addition, the university meets 100% of demonstrated need for all qualifying first-year students and transfers. This can help applicants from lower and middle-class families who may not have the financial resources to pay for college expenses.
In 2020-2021, 58% of first-time, full-time undergraduates received some sort of financial aid. Here, specifically, is what they received:
• Grant or scholarship aid: 53% of students received this type of aid with an average award of $57,726
• Federal grants: 33% of students received this type of aid with an average award of $6,236
• Pell grants: 21% of students received this type of aid with an average award of $6,076
• Other federal grants: 28% of students received this type of aid with an average award of $2,657
• State/local: 6% of students received this type of aid with an average award of $4,760
• Institutional: 52% of students received this type of aid with an average award of $53,589
• Student loan aid: 7% of students received this type of aid with an average amount of $13,338
• Federal student loans: 7% of students received this type of aid with an average amount of $5,511
• Other student loans: 2% of students received this type of aid with an average amount of $34,119
Generally, financial aid is monetary assistance awarded to students based on personal need and merit. Students that qualify for financial aid can use it to pay for college costs like tuition, books, and living expenses.
The federal government is the largest provider of student financial aid. However, aid can also be given by state governments, colleges and universities, private companies, and nonprofits. The different types include:
• Scholarships: These can be awarded by schools and other organizations based on students’ academic excellence, athletic achievement, community involvement, job experience, field of study, and financial need.
• Grants: Generally based on financial need, these can come from federal, state, private, and non-profit organizations.
• Work-study: This federal program provides qualifying students with part-time employment to earn money for expenses while in school.
• Federal student loans: This is money borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education. It comes with fixed interest rates that are typically lower than private loans.
Colleges, universities, and state agencies use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine financial aid eligibility. The FAFSA can be completed online, but note that state and federal and school deadlines may differ.
You can find other financial aid opportunities on databases such as:
In 2020-2021, 2% of Columbia students received private student loans with an average amount of $34,119.
Private loans are funded by private organizations such as banks, online lenders, credit unions, some schools, and state-based or state-affiliated organizations. While Federal student loans have interest rates that are regulated by Congress, private lenders follow a different set of regulations so their qualifications and interest rates can vary widely.
What’s more, private loans have variable or fixed interest rates that may be higher than federal loan interest rates, which are always fixed. Private lenders may (but don’t always) require you to make payments on your loans while you are still in school, compared to federal student loans which you don’t have to start paying back until after you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time.
Private loans don’t have a specific application window and can be applied for on an as-needed basis. However, if you think you may need to take out a private loan, it’s a good idea to submit your FAFSA first to see what federal aid you may qualify for as it generally may have better rates and terms.
If you’ve missed the FAFSA deadline or you’re struggling to pay for school throughout the year, private loans can potentially help you make your payments. Just keep in mind that you will need enough lead time for your loan to process and for your lender to send money to your school.
In 2021-2022, Columbia University tuition was $63,530. Four years at this price would equal $254,120. But keep in mind that there may be tuition increases. For instance, Columbia’s 2021-2022 tuition increased by 3% over the previous year ($61,671).
In 2021-2022, Columbia tuition and total expenses were:
• Columbia tuition: $63,530
• On-campus total total expenses: $82,584
• Off-campus total expenses: $90,882
In 2020-2021, the average total expenses for a private university in the U.S. was $54,500, which makes the cost of in-state attendance at Columbia 51.5% higher. The out-of-state attendance is 66.8% higher.
Graduate Tuition and Fees
In 2021-2022, graduate tuition at Columbia cost $50,496 with fees of $2,428 for a total of $52,924. In comparison, the average tuition and fees for a graduate program at a private university in 2019-2020 were $28,430. This makes Columbia tuition 86.2% higher. Graduate loans can help with this cost.
Cost per Credit Hour
Cost per credit hours costs are available on the Columbia University website based on the area of study. For example, in the education department, the cost per credit hour in 2021-2022 was estimated at $1,839, with a college fee of $488 per term. In 2022-2023, the cost is estimated at $1,913 per credit hour, with a $498 college fee per term. This is a 4% increase in cost per credit hour and a 2% increase in fees.
Campus Housing Expenses
In 2021-2022, Columbia room and board costs are:
• On-campus room and board: $15,450
• Off-campus room and board: $20,565
Off-campus housing in New York City can be pricey, with a 702-square-foot apartment going for an average of $4,265 monthly in mid-2022. Leases are usually year-round rather than just for the academic year.
Columbia University Acceptance Rate
In fall 2021, 61,110 people applied to the school and the Columbia University acceptance rate was just 4%.
Application information is available with early decision applications due by November 1 of the year prior to attendance, and regular decision applications due by January 1 of the academic year.
Students must provide an official high school transcript, a counselor’s recommendation, a teacher recommendation from the academic area that a student wishes to pursue, and a mid-year report. Columbus University is test optional through at least fall 2024.
SAT and ACT Scores
In fall 2021, 43% of applicants submitted SAT scores and 28% submitted ACT scores. The 25th and 75th percentile numbers were as follows:
SAT Evidence-Based Reading/Writing
Popular Majors at Columbia University
In 2021, more than 2,100 undergraduates earned a degree from Columbia. Here are some of the most popular majors.
1. Computer Science
The curriculum for this program emphasizes computer science theory, mathematics, applied computer technology, and more. Students learn about artificial intelligence, robotics, algorithms, machine learning, among other things. In 2021, 14.6% of graduating undergraduates earned this degree.
2. Econometrics and Quantitative Economics
The university offers a general economics degree along with five interdisciplinary majors. Students learn about domestic and international finances, trade, labor market analysis, and more. In 2021, 10.7% of graduating undergraduates earned an economics degree.
3. Political Science
The curriculum focuses on governance and power, including formal and informal political institutions. Subfields are American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. In 2021, 9.5% of graduating undergraduates completed this degree.
4. Research and Experimental Psychology
The psychology department nurtures the development of research skills throughout the program, along with critical thinking, ethical values that serve as the foundation of the discipline, and more. In 2021, 5.8% of graduating undergraduates earned this degree.
Students receive a broad education about most periods of history and areas of the world. Graduates pursue diverse careers in media, academia, law, medicine, and more. In 2021, 4.4% of graduating undergraduates earned a history degree.
The neuroscience major is an interdepartmental one between the psychology department and the biological sciences department. In 2021, 3,8% of graduating undergraduates earned this degree.
7. English Language and Literature
Undergraduates learn how to read critically and imaginatively as they decipher how literature is created. They review significant works in English literature, and place them in historical and cultural context. In 2021, 3.8% of graduating undergraduates earned this degree.
8. Social Sciences
In this major, students examine the interactions among people, communities, and organizations, focusing on the relationships and products of human interaction. In 2021, 3.6% of graduating undergraduates earned this degree.
9. Operations Research
This degree focuses on quantitative decision making, especially when allocating and controlling limited resources. Mathematical and statistical models help students formulate solutions to commonly held problems. In 2021, 2.7% of graduating undergraduates earned this degree.
10. Applied Mathematics
Students in this program take an analytical approach to mathematical issues: large-scale scientific computation, fluid dynamics, data algorithms, and more. In 2021, 2.4% of graduating undergraduates earned an applied mathematics degree.
Columbia Graduation Rate
Graduation rates at Columbia are:
• 4 years: 88%
• 6 years: 97%
Post-Graduation Median Earnings
Median earnings for Columbia graduates is $89,871 a year. In comparison, the average annual earnings of college grads in the U.S. is $47,891.
Columbia University is a respected educational institution. Although the tuition at this Ivy League school is higher than the average, the university has a need blind application process and seems to be generous with institutional aid. However, the Columbia acceptance rate is low—which means getting in may be your biggest challenge.
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