Institutional Scholarships

Information about institutional financial aid available to new and continuing GS students.

Undergraduate Students

In addition to aid from federal and state governments or private sources, GS undergraduate students may apply for institutional aid, which does not have to be repaid. Institutional aid is derived from three sources: endowment returns, annual gifts, and general University funds.

All prospective and current undergraduate students are eligible to apply for a scholarship regardless of enrollment status (part or full time) or academic history.

Scholarships may range from $500 to $25,000, however, students in their first period of enrollment will typically receive a scholarship between $9,000 and $12,000. Scholarships are awarded to students with demonstrated academic achievement and are influenced by financial need.

While need is taken into consideration, the GS institutional aid system is based primarily on merit, and is specifically designed for students who are usually financially independent and are often adults with families. Consequently, the burden of financing an education falls disproportionately on the individual student, unlike the traditional- or dependent-student model, in which parental contributions are considered in the determination of need.

Amounts typically increase from year to year based on academic success and financial need. Students awarded merit-only scholarships will have the award amount renewed each year, but likely will not receive an annual increase.

Funding is limited and current students must apply by the deadline each year in order to be given priority consideration.

Named Institutional Scholarships

The School of General Studies Institutional Scholarship Fund is supported by a number of generous donors. A student who completes a GS scholarship application is automatically considered for an award from any of the School's funds for which the student qualifies, and if selected, will be notified by email.

Prospective and New Students

U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

Prospective student applicants for institutional aid who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents must submit all of the following by the appropriate deadlines:

International Students

International students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents do not need to complete the FAFSA to receive institutional aid, but must submit all of the following by the appropriate deadlines:

International students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents must complete the FAFSA, in addition to the GS New Student Scholarship Application, in order to receive institutional aid.

Continuing Students

U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

Continuing students interested in institutional aid who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents must submit all of the following by the appropriate deadlines:

International Students

International students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents must submit all of the following by the appropriate deadlines:

All scholarship recipients must reapply every year. Eligibility for GS scholarships requires at least half-time enrollment (6 points). Scholarships are typically only available for the fall and spring semesters and are not available for summer enrollment. Funding options for summer enrollment will be publicized in the annual notice for scholarship renewal each March.

Continuing students in Columbia University-sponsored study abroad programs—i.e., a program administered by Columbia University—may have their scholarships credited to their University student accounts. Students studying abroad on a Columbia-approved program—i.e, a program not administered by Columbia University—are not eligible for institutional scholarships during their time abroad. Students are advised to contact the GS Office of Educational Financing before beginning their studies abroad.

Scholarships are not generally available to tuition-exempt students or to those who take more than 124 points to complete their degree. This may include students who belatedly change their major and must exceed 124 points for completion.

The Scholarship Committee meets annually to review applications and award scholarships for the following academic year. Application results are mailed to all applicants.

Osher Reentry Scholarships

Thanks to the generous support of the Bernard Osher Foundation, each year GS will award ten $5,000 scholarships to academically promising students, with demonstrated financial need, who have had a cumulative gap of five or more years in their undergraduate education. All qualified applicants for GS financial aid will be considered for this award.

Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship

Scholarships are available each academic year to PTK members. While reviewing applications, the GS Scholarship Committee will select students eligible for the scholarship based on academic and financial need criteria. There is no separate application process for the scholarship, but applicants for the scholarship should note their affiliation with PTK when applying.

Program for Academic Leadership and Service (PALS)

The Program for Academic Leadership and Service (PALS) is a scholarship designed to provide access to a Columbia undergraduate education for students who might not otherwise be able to attend an Ivy League university.

Students do not apply specifically for PALS. To be named a PALS Scholar, a student must meet most or all of the following criteria:

  • Be a first generation college student
  • Be a member of a historically underrepresented group at Columbia
  • High financial need
  • Demonstrated ability to succeed in a highly competitive academic environment
  • Willingness to complete a leadership/service component of 30 hours per year

PALS scholarship recipients are nominated by the Office of Admissions. The PALS Committee will review the pertinent academic and financial information of the nominees and then make a final determination.

In most cases, tuition and fees for PALS Scholars will be met through a combination of federal and state grants, work-study opportunities, and institutional scholarships. Living expenses, which are part of a PALS Scholar's overall cost of education, may be met with work-study opportunities, as well Federal Direct loans.


Continuing PALS Scholars must strictly observe all financial aid deadlines. Failure to do so may result in the loss of the scholarship. Continuing PALS Scholars are also expected to review the Document Tracking section of SSOL to ensure that all financial aid documents have been received.

Program Requirements

To maintain status in PALS, a student must:

  • Uphold a grade point average of at least 3.0
  • Complete a semester at full-time if the student began the semester (and was funded at) full-time enrollment
  • Complete all necessary financial aid documents by the appropriate deadlines (GS Scholarship Application, FAFSA, and Planned Enrollment Form)
  • Meet regularly with a PALS advisor
  • Document 15 hours of service to Columbia or the student's local community each semester

Scholarships for Students from Community Colleges

Community-college students are eligible for any GS scholarship; however, the scholarships below are designed specifically for students transferring to GS from community college. Applicants do not need to apply specifically for any of the scholarships below; by completing the GS scholarship application you will be considered for the following scholarships.

Bergen County Community College Scholarship

This scholarship is designed to award excellence in academic achievement and potential for students who intend to transfer to GS.

Westchester Community College Scholarship

This scholarship is designed to recognize students who intend to transfer to GS and who have a demonstrated record of academic success in a rigorous curriculum.

CUNY Community College Scholarship

This scholarship offers ten new student scholarships in the amount of $12,500 per semester specifically for students who have attended a CUNY community college. This scholarship takes into account a candidate’s merit and financial need and requires completing all the steps for financial aid at GS. The CUNY Scholarship is awarded on a rolling basis by the GS Scholarship Committee.

    Postbac Premed Program Students

    GS has a limited scholarship program for Postbac Premed students who are registered for at least six points and who are beginning their orgo-bio year. Awards range from $1,000 - $4,000 and are based upon both merit and need.

    When the scholarship period opens, information about applying will be posted in the Postbac Premed Announcements section of the website, and included in the bi-weekly News and Announcements email.