Columbia GS Student Support Initiative

Earlier today, Dean Rosen-Metsch sent the following message to GS students regarding the Columbia GS Student Support Initiative.

April 09, 2021
School of General Studies logo

Dear fellow members of the Columbia GS community,

I write to share the monumental announcement made yesterday by President Bollinger that, for the first time in the University's history, Columbia will launch a fundraising effort singularly focused on improving financial aid for students. This initiative represents an unprecedented opportunity for GS to raise funds for critical financial aid to support the best and brightest students who follow a nontraditional path to higher education.

I am especially proud of and grateful to our alumnus, Larry Lawrence ‘69GS ‘71BUS, for getting this campaign off to an incredible start with his deep generosity. Under his leadership, and with a small group of dedicated alumni, parents, and administrators, we have been working and planning for the last six months to ensure the success of this effort. While the full details will be shared in the coming months, today, I am pleased to announce that Larry has agreed to lead our efforts as the alumni chair of this initiative, continuing a legacy of support for GS that goes back 35 years. With his partnership, and with the unwavering commitment of our alumni and friends, I know that this initiative will open doors and transform lives for our GS students.

There is no other college in the world like Columbia GS and no other University so fully dedicated to supporting students who follow a nontraditional path. In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to sharing exciting news and the details about how this historic effort will support new, groundbreaking endeavors that will continue to reshape and greatly enhance how we serve our students, maintaining our role as the premier destination for nontraditional students seeking an elite education.


Lisa Rosen-Metsch
Columbia University School of General Studies

Subject: Announcing the Columbia Student Support Initiative

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am writing today to announce the Columbia Student Support Initiative, a new effort dedicated to raising $1.4 billion in financial assistance for students by June 2025 and involving all 16 of our schools. This special campaign will add to our existing resources for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, and other forms of assistance that are critical to student success and wellbeing. Because the needs of students at each of our schools differ to some degree, each school will, accordingly, set its own goals and chart its own path. But the spirit animating the campaign will be shared across the institution.

I know I do not need to make an elaborate case for this significant institutional effort. Columbia’s commitment to the support of its students is already deeply instilled in our collective being. It begins with our longstanding policies of need-blind undergraduate admissions and full-need financial aid. This commitment to ensure access to a Columbia education unconstrained by family wealth carries on through every school and program at the University. And in many of our professional schools, we do our very best to support student career choices that serve the public good but are not sufficiently remunerative.

I am very pleased to say that we launch this initiative with tangible momentum. In addition to the thousands of alumni and parents who give generously each year, we are inspired by extraordinary alumni leaders. Among them are Roy and Diana Vagelos, who ensured that generations of Columbia medical students can graduate debt free; Board of Trustees Co-Chair Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine, whose inspirational gift endows scholarships for Columbia College students; Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis, who furthered their sustained generosity with a recent transformative financial aid gift for Business School students; Trustee Emeritus Armen Avanessians, who endowed fellowships for engineering PhD students focusing on data science; and Larry Lawrence, who recently endowed scholarships for the remarkably diverse students at the Columbia School of General Studies. Through a new Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) Scholars program established with a leadership gift from Keith Goggin, CAA leaders will fund support for students from every school each year.

A Columbia education is transformative for our students and financial need should not be a barrier to accessing it. We have for many years made financial aid a priority and have dedicated our resources accordingly, but there is more to do. This campaign, and the resulting support for our students, will begin a new era for Columbia.  


Lee C. Bollinger