Financing Your EducationFAQs

Once students have completed the GS Scholarship Application, they are considered for all scholarships offered by the School of General Studies. The Scholarship Committee will review applications for consideration for a named scholarship. Applicants are then notified by mail of the results.

All students interested in federal aid should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants who are offered admission and continuing students must also complete the Planned Enrollment Form.


No, the FAFSA may be completed with estimated tax information. Once your tax return has been completed, the FAFSA should be updated with the correct information.

The U.S. Department of Education defines an independent student as someone who meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • At least 24 years old;
  • Married;
  • A veteran or member of the U.S. armed forces;
  • An orphan;
  • A ward of the court;
  • Someone with legal dependents other than a spouse.

There are additional criteria established by the Department of Education that may allow a student to be designated independent. Consult the worksheet on the FAFSA website to determine your status or for more information.

No, although most financial aid requires at least half-time enrollment, 6 points or more.

Yes, it is possible to receive a GS scholarship for only one semester of a given academic year. However, please note that institutional aid is determined for the entire academic year based on applications received by the deadlines. For example, if you are taking the fall semester off, you should still apply by the published deadlines.

Yes. If you have previously matriculated at the School of General Studies and are not currently enrolled but plan to return in the upcoming academic year, you should apply by the published financial-aid deadlines for continuing students. The only exception is for students who have been away from GS for longer than three years or who have had to reapply for admission; those students may apply by the deadlines for new students.

Yes. It is better to apply and let the Scholarship Committee make a decision than to decide for yourself that you are not eligible.

This question can best be answered on a case-by-case basis. Please make an appointment to speak with a financial-aid counselor in the Office of Educational Financing: 408 Lewisohn, (212) 854-5410.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

If the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) policy is terminated or substantially curtailed and students with DACA status lose the right to work, the School of General Studies has pledged to expand financial aid for impacted students to assist in making up for income lost during the academic year. Please contact Skip Bailey, Director of Educational Financing, for any questions or concerns.

The Hope Scholarship is actually a federal tax credit program. There is no application. In certain enrollment, income, and tax situations, students or their families may receive tax benefits for tuition paid. For more information, visit see IRS publication 970, "Tax Benefits for Education."

General Studies students have limited options for funding summer-term enrollment. Each spring, the Director of Educational Financing hosts a series of workshops on obtaining funding for summer-term enrollment. Matriculated students interested in summer funding should meet with a financial aid counselor in the Office of Educational Financing in 408 Lewisohn Hall prior to the Summer Term to review the available options. Students enrolled in the Summer Ecosystem Experience for Undergraduates (SEE-U) program may apply for the CERC SEE-U Fellowship.

Students attending a Columbia University-sponsored study abroad programs may have their GS scholarship and federal financial aid applied to their balance for the program.  However, students attending a Columbia University-approved study abroad programs are limited to certain federal financial aid via a Consortium Agreement.  

GS instutitional aid and federal campus-based is not awarded for those student attending a Columbia University-approved study abroad program.

Students are advised make an appointment to meet with a financial aid advisor in the Office of Educational Financing before beginning their studies abroad.

For more information on study abroad programs, including the distinction between Columbia-sponsored and Columbia-approved programs, see the Study Abroad section of the GS website.