Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) is pleased to announce a 17% increase in its financial aid program. Beginning in the 2008-2009 academic year, this enhancement in aid will be focused on continuing students who have the highest demonstrated economic need and substantial loan debt. Amounting to slightly more than one million dollars in additional scholarship assistance, the increase will affect approximately 50% of GS undergraduate degree students who currently receive institutional financial aid.
The following principles will be used in determining who receives an enhanced package:
- GS scholarship applicants with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from $0 to $10,000. The EFC is a measure of a family's financial strength and indicates how much of the student's (and the family's, for dependent students) financial resources should be available to help pay for the student's education. The EFC is calculated from the information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- Students with the greatest demonstrated financial need who have used loans (federal or private) to assist in financing their educations. Since the primary goal is to reduce the loan burden that some percentage of students carry in order to finance the cost of education, the focus will be on enhancing total aid for students who have borrowed extensively to finance their educations.
- Students with demonstrated academic success as defined by those who have earned cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher and have made satisfactory progress toward the completion of their degrees.
The Columbia University administration is acutely aware of the financial challenges faced by students who choose to embrace the rigors of a Columbia education. This initiative is part of an aggressive effort over time to better assist the nontraditional undergraduates at Columbia University meet the significant costs of financing a Columbia education.
The School of General Studies is the college at Columbia University for nontraditional students who seek a rigorous and traditional Ivy League education. Our 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. This means that the burden of financing an education falls disproportionately on the individual student, unlike a traditional, dependent college student, where the parental contribution is a consideration in the determination of need. Institutional aid for General Studies students is derived from three sources: endowment returns, annual gifts, and general University funds. The School of General Studies' endowment is currently 22 million dollars.
Funding for Columbia's financial aid enhancements is provided entirely by generous alumni and friends of the University, through annual fund gifts and permanent endowments. Through The Columbia Campaign for Undergraduate Education the University seeks to raise more than $440 million in new gifts to undergraduate financial aid endowment. Success in meeting the campaign goals for GS will increase the endowment by $15 million, a 68 percent increase, and make an additional $10 million in current use funds available for undergraduate financial aid over the campaign period. The spending rate for all General Studies financial aid endowments will be increased so that planned upgrades can be implemented immediately.
Over the last decade, we have made great efforts to enhance the financial aid program at GS, nearly tripling the total aid given yearly to GS students. This enhancement and the commitment of alumni and friends to meeting the goals of The Columbia Campaign will continue the progress in financial aid for students enrolled in the School of General Studies. The School of General Studies of Columbia University (GS) is the finest liberal arts college in the country created specifically for students with nontraditional backgrounds who seek a traditional education at an Ivy League university. Most students at GS have, for personal or professional reasons, interrupted their education, never attended college, or can only attend part-time. What makes GS unique among colleges of its type is that GS students are fully integrated into the Columbia undergraduate curriculum, take the same courses with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as other Columbia undergraduates.
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