Sources of Financial Aid

At the Columbia University School of Social Work, an assortment of federal, institutional, and private resources are available to students for the purpose of financing their education. A general list of programs and awards offered through CSSW is listed below. PLEASE NOTE: The allocation of these resources is contingent upon student eligibility and the availability of funds.

Table of Contents (click on the anchored link to go directly to the section that interests you):

  • Institutional Scholarships and Endowments (header)

    Institutional scholarships are awarded to a limited number of full-time students (in field work) who demonstrate financial need according to institutional guidelines. The amount of this award differs amongst students based on eligibility and the availability of funds. Students receive half of their award at the beginning of each term. Scholarships generally range from $2,500 to $12,000 annually.

    NOTE: During the Fall Term, this award may be replaced by a named/endowed award, based on the donor's criteria.  This award will be posted to your student account each term, generally during the add/drop period. If you are the recipient of a named/endowed award, you will be asked to participate in the School’s “Thank-a-Thon” campaign to express gratitude to the generous donors who have made these awards possible.

  • Eligibility

    In order to qualify, students must be enrolled full time, including fieldwork, and have valid U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.

  • Appeals

    Newly admitted students seeking additional scholarship funding must contact the School’s Director of Admissions. It is School policy to roll over the initially awarded scholarship amount to the second year of study, provided there is no significant decrease in the demonstrated need of the student.

  • Competitive Fellowships and Prizes

    Most years, the School is able to offer several competitive fellowships and/or prizes. These awards are made available thanks to the vision and generosity of alumni and friends of the School who care deeply about the next generation of social work leaders. They demonstrate their commitment to changing the world through the investment in future clinicians, policy makers, researchers, social entrepreneurs, and academics.

    Listed below are the four competitive awards that are currently available. Only students entering their final (concentration) year of study are eligible for these awards. Eligible students will be sent instructions and an invitation to apply when the application process opens before the end of the Spring Term each year.

    Students selected for these awards will be expected to partner with the School to help the donor (or family members of the donor) to understand the impact of their gift. This may include one or more of the following stewardship activities: phone calls, personalized thank-you notes, brief meetings, or attendance at CSSW’s annual scholarship event.

  • 1) Paige E. Cook Jr. Fellowship

    The Paige E. Cook Jr. Fellowship is awarded on the basis of excellence. Preference will be given to a student with a career interest in substance abuse, world of work, men’s issues, and cross-cultural practice in clinical practice. Applicants should reflect interest in these areas via concrete examples, such as work experience, volunteer positions, etc.

  • 2) Benjamin and Agnes Louard Fellowship

    The Louard Fellowship is awarded as financial aid to a full-time CUSSW student who has academic and leadership potential. Preference will be given to students who demonstrate a commitment to employment in the public or voluntary non-profit sector or in local grassroots groups serving primarily, but not restricted to, an African-American population. Your essay should reflect this commitment.

  • 3) Overbrook Fellowship for Advanced Study in Clinical Social Work

    The Overbrook Fellowship is a partial tuition award to students who demonstrate leadership potential in the field of clinical social work. Please ensure that your personal statement reflects your interest and leadership opportunities in clinical social work. This can be demonstrated by work done in your classes, field placement, or volunteer experiences.

  • 4) Mae L. Wien Prize in Family Planning, Counseling, and Population Control

    The Mae L. Wien Memorial Prize is awarded to students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of family planning, counseling, and population control. 

  • Interschool Fellowships

    Each year students are notified when the application process opens of possible fellowship opportunities that are need-based and are not restricted to students in any one Columbia school. The annual amounts of each of these awards generally range from $1,000 to $5,000. The award is released in two even disbursements, at the start of the Fall Term and Spring Term.

  • 1) Clifford and Siegfried Upton Scholarship

    This scholarship is intended to benefit the children, adopted children, and step-children of the employees of Boston-based Houghton-Mifflin Company, its subsidiaries, or successor companies. The minimum amount of this scholarship is $1,000 for a school year, and increased according to the needs of the candidate. This fellowship is available to graduate or undergraduate students.

    Required documentation:

    • Letter from employer verifying eligibility
  • 2) Leta Stetter Hollingworth Fellowship

    This fellowship is available to graduate students at Columbia, preferably, but not necessarily, who are graduates of  the University of Nebraska.

    Required documentation:

    • A copy of your University of Nebraska transcript
    • A letter of reference from a faculty member of the University of Nebraska
  • 3) Paul Nichoplas Scholarship Fund

    This scholarship is to benefit a male student from Greece or of Greek descent. Required Documentation:

    • A copy of your birth certificate or a notarized affidavit certifying your birth in Greece or Greek heritage.
  • 4) Vladimir and Olga Poder Fund

    This fellowship is to benefit Estonian-speaking students attending Columbia. The fellowship is usually a $2,000 annual award.

    Required documentation:

    • A letter from the NY Estonian House located at 243 East 34th Street, New York NY 10016, certifying that you speak Estonian.
  • 5) George W. Ellis Fellowship

    The George W. Ellis Fellowship is available to graduate students who are residents of Vermont or who have graduated from an accredited Vermont college or university.

    Required documentation:

    • Residents of Vermont should provide a copy of their state taxes, driver’s license or voter registration card.
    • Graduates from a Vermont College should provide a copy of their school transcript.
  • Federal Work Study (header)

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    Funded in part by the federal government, this program compensates students for work done in public and nonprofit agencies. At the Columbia School of Social Work, this program works uniquely in that students are compensated for service at their field placement. Participants in this program receive approximate awards of $4,000 annually and payment is issued to students in bi-weekly installments, based on submitted time sheets. FWS funding is very limited and the School is not able to offer this award to all eligible students. Eligible students who do not have this award listed on their award letter may appeal via email to swfinaid@columbia.eduto be added to a wait list which will be reviewed throughout the year to determine if additional awards can be made.

    In order to qualify, students must be enrolled full time, including fieldwork, and demonstrate financial need and eligibility according to federal guidelines. The student's field placement agency also must be a nonprofit organization offering no financial compensation outside of the Federal Work Study Program, and must have signed a Work Study Agreement with the School. If an eligible field placement agency has not submitted a signed Work Study Agreement, an eligible student cannot be awarded funding. 

    You can find additional information on the Student Financial Services website under the Work-Study section at the bottom of the page.

  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans (header)

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    A Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is not awarded on the basis of financial need. Interest is charged from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. You have the option of paying this interest while in school and during grace periods or deferment periods, or allowing the interest to accrue and be capitalized (added to the principal amount of your loan) once you enter repayment.

    To receive a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Additional forms are also required.

  • Eligibility Requirements

    Eligibility requirements include:

    • Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
    • Must be enrolled at least half-time
    • Cannot be in default or owe a repayment on any Title IV program
    • Must maintain satisfactory academic progress
    • Must complete the required entrance and exit counseling, Master Promissory Note (MPN) and loan request form

    Go to Full Federal Eligibility Requirements.

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  • Credit Criteria

    A credit check is not required for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

  • Annual Loan Limits

    There are limits on the maximum amount students are eligible to receive each academic year (annual loan limit). Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans annually.

  • Aggregate Loan Limits

    Graduate students have an aggregate borrowing limit of $138,500 for both Federal Direct Subsidized (no longer available to graduate students) and Unsubsidized Loans combined. No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. This maximum total graduate debt limit includes Federal Stafford loans received for undergraduate study or previous graduate Federal Stafford loans received.

    For students enrolled in health profession programs (the College of Dental Medicine, the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Mailman School of Public Health), there is an increased aggregate loan limit of $224,000 (maximum $65,500 subsidized).

    You may view your aggregate amount of federal loans borrowed to date on the National Student Loan Data System

  • Interest Rates

    Interest rates are determined annually and are fixed for the life of the loan.  For loans disbursed July 1, 2015-July 30, 2016, the interest rate is 5.84%.

  • Fees

    The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan has an origination fee of 1.068% for loans disbursed October 1, 2015-October 1, 2016. This fee will be deducted proportionately each time that a loan disbursement is made.

  • Disbursement

    Loan funds are disbursed directly to your student account, generally in at least two installments. The loan funds are first used to pay for tuition and fees, room and board (if charged to your student account), and other school educational expenses charged to your student account. If any money remains, you can receive a refund. For more information on refunds, go to the University’s Refund page.

  • Repayment

    The first payment is due following a 6-month grace period after you graduate or your enrollment drops to less than half time. Additional deferment periods (i.e., a time when you do not have to make payments) may be available under certain circumstances, such as financial hardship.

    Monthly payments are calculated based on the amount owed at the start of repayment. Payments may be adjusted based on your income level. Generally, the repayment period is 10 years, but can be extended to 30 years under a Direct Loan Consolidation Plan. For more information, go to the Federal Student Aid site.

  • Additional Resources

  • Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans and Private Loans (header)

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    Based on your financial aid offered, you may be eligible to be considered for financial assistance from supplemental loans or outside sources in order to take care of your remaining need – listed on your award letter as “Alternative Eligibility.” If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen and have submitted a FAFSA, you may choose between a fixed interest rate Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan and a variable or fixed interest rate private educational loan. Both are credit-based loans and may require the addition of a creditworthy cosigner. You are responsible for the interest charges during periods of enrollment or deferment but can choose to defer the payment of interest until full loan repayment begins. NOTE: The terms and conditions of federal student loans may be more beneficial than the terms and conditions of private educational loans.

    To help you decide which loan product to choose, go to the University's Student Financial Services Web sites:

  • Graduate PLUS Loan Application Process

    1. Complete Entrance Couseling and a Master Promissory Note:

    1. Go to Direct Loan website: www.studentloans.gov
    2. Sign into 'Manage My Direct Loan' using your Social Security Number, the last two letters of your last name, your date of birth and your FAFSA PIN. NOTE: If you do not have a FAFSA PIN or cannot recall it, go to www.pin.ed.gov to request one. It may take up to 10 business days to receive a PIN.
    3. Click on "Complete Entrance Counseling" (middle of the page), and select "Entrance Counseling for the Graduate PLUS Loan".
    4. After completing Entrance Counseling, click on "Complete Master Promissory Note” and select the Graduate PLUS MPN. NOTE: Do NOT click on "Request a PLUS Loan," nor should you complete any online forms in the section: "PLUS loan process."  These forms will not be accepted and will give you an error message.

    2. Complete the School of Social Work's Graduate PLUS Loan Request Form. On this form you must indicate the amount you wish to borrow, as well as the terms across which the loan will be divided. 

  • Graduate PLUS Loan: Credit Criteria

    The Federal Graduate PLUS Loan is a credit-based loan and the Department of Education requires that you must not have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be performed during the application process).

    For additional information about the credit check and what is considered adverse credit, please see the Department of Education’s FAQs.

  • Graduate PLUS Loan: Annual Loan Limits

    The annual maximum amount you may borrow in a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is your total cost of attendance minus any scholarships or other funding to be applied to your student account.

  • Graduate PLUS Loan: Aggregate Loan Limits

    There are currently no aggregate loan limits for the Federal Graduate Direct PLUS Loan.

  • Graduate PLUS Loan: Interest Rates

    Interest rates are determined annually and are fixed for the life of the loan. For loans disbursed July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016, the interest rate is 6.84%.

  • Graduate PLUS Loan: Fees

    The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan has an origination of 4.272% for loans disbursed Oct. 1, 2015-October 1, 2016. This fee will be deducted proportionately each time that a loan disbursement is made.

  • Graduate PLUS Loan: Disbursement

    Loan funds are disbursed directly to your student account, generally in at least two installments. The loan funds are first used to pay for tuition and fees, room and board (if charged to your student account), and other school educational expenses charged to your student account. If any money remains, you can receive a refund. For more information on refunds, go to the University’s Refund page.

  • Graduate PLUS Loan: Repayment

    The first payment is due within 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed.  There is no grace period for Direct PLUS Loans, however you can postpone payments on your Direct PLUS Loan while you are in enrolled in school at least half-time. Additional deferment periods (i.e., a time when you do not have to make payments) may be available under certain circumstances, such as financial hardship.

    Monthly payments are calculated based on the amount owed at the start of repayment. Payments may be adjusted based on your income level, such as under the Income-Based Repayment and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plans. Generally, the repayment period is 10 years, but can be extended to 30 years under a Direct Loan Consolidation Plan. For more information on loan repayment plans, go to the Federal Student Aid site.

  • Graduate PLUS Loan: Additional Resources

     

  • Private Loan Application Process

    To apply for a private loan, here are the steps:

    1. Review eligibility requirements. (General requirements can be found on the University’s Student Financial Services website but specific requirements will be posted on your selected lender’s website.)
    2. Apply directly on the Web site of your chosen lender. You may choose any lender funding private educational loans and complete an online application. A list of the University’s suggested lenders is available online.
    3. Make sure to e-sign the application.
    4. Review your private loan disclosures, which must be provided to you by your lender in accordance with the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).
    5. Notify the SW Office of Financial Aid (swfinaid@columbia.edu) of the lender’s name and the amount requested after the loan has been approved so that the School can certify the loan. We will certify no more than the maximum amount listed on your Net Partner account under “Alternative Eligibility.”

    INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS may choose to borrow a variable or fixed interest rate private educational loan with a creditworthy U.S. cosigner, or investigate home country resources.

  • More Resources

    Go to the ACS website to obtain forms to:

    • Request Hardship and Forbearance
    • Request Student Loan Deferment
    • Request Loan Cancellation, and Pre-Cancellation
    • Loan Forbearance
  • Columbia University Loan Program (header)

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    The School and University have a limited amount of institutional loans available. The interest rate on these loans is 5% and amounts range between $2,000 - $10,000 annually. Priority for these loans is given to students with high need (e.g., those who have been denied private or PLUS Loans). Award amounts are determined after a careful review of the student’s current financial aid and a submitted Alternative Funding Appeal Form and supplementary documentation. The School will attempt to provide funding to meet any funding gaps to cover a student’s tuition and fees, along with basic living expenses.

  • Application Process

    Students must submit an Alternative Funding Appeal Form and supplementary documentation, as noted on the form.

  • Loan Disclosures

    In accordance with the Truth in Lending Act, students borrowing institutional loans must receive three required disclosures at the following stages:  at awarding, at acceptance and prior to disbursement. Please click here to review the first required disclosure that corresponds to your institutional loan, and the necessary next steps to receiving your loan funds.

  • Questions? Need Help? - header

    Questions? Need Help?

    Contact us by email at swfinaid@columbia.edu and/or make an appointment.