Institutional Scholarships

Institutional Scholarships

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.

How the GS Institutional Aid System Works

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.

While General Studies scholarships can range from $500 to $25,000, 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.

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.

Scholarships are available to full- and part-time students and do not have to be repaid. Scholarships are available to both new and curent students.

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

How to Apply

Prospective and New Students

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

Prospective student applicants for institutional aid who are international students must submit both the New Student Scholarship Application and International Supplement Form by the appropriate deadline.

Continuing Students

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

Continuing student applicants for institutional aid who are international students must submit the Continuing Student Scholarship Application, Planned Enrollment Form, and International Supplement Form by the appropriate deadlines


Students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for institutional scholarships as well as federal and state financial aid. The Columbia University FAFSA Code is 002707.

After the FAFSA has been submitted, students may confirm the status of their applications on the FAFSA website. FAFSA processing normally takes 2-3 weeks. Students with additional questions about the FAFSA application process may wish to call the Federal Aid Student Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Policies Governing General Studies Scholarships

All scholarship recipients must reapply every year. Eligibility for General Studies scholarships requires at least half-time enrollment (6 points). General Studies scholarships are normally 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 General Studies 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 Director 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 can 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.

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 he or she qualifies.