How to Apply for Financial Aid

Your guide to making the most of financial aid opportunities at Columbia.

Applying for Financial Aid 

Our students aren’t on their own when it comes to affording tuition. That’s why we’ve made a simple how-to guide to make the application process easy.

You can also contact the Financial Aid Office by email at [email protected], by phone at 212-851-2293, or click here to make an appointment.

We recommend all prospective and current students complete this step. Students who file a FAFSA ensure that they are considered for the most aid possible. In 2024-2025, 90% of eligible FAFSA filers received institutional aid from Columbia.

  • File your FAFSA.
  • Prospective Students should file their FAFSA when they submit their application.
  • Current students should file their FAFSA by April 15th.
  • Make sure you fill out the FAFSA for the correct year.
  • Remember to use “prior prior year” tax information (e.g. 2022 tax information for the 2024-2025 FAFSA.)  We recommend using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if available.
  • Make sure you file with our School Code: 002707

Submit Additional Documents

If you have been selected for federal verification or additional documents have been requested, submit them as soon as possible. If requested, documents will be listed on Netpartner and can be found here.

Reward Award Letters

If all of your financial aid documentation has been received and you have been admitted, the Office of Financial Aid will issue you an award letter explaining any awards available to you, their eligibility requirements, and the cost of your anticipated enrollment.

  • Students entering in Summer or Fall begin receiving award letters in mid-late February.
  • Continuing students begin receiving award letters in May-June for the upcoming year.

Common Financial Aid Questions

Cost of attendance for our residential and online programs can be found here.

Financial aid awards typically include a mix of institutional/merit scholarships, federal work-study, federal loans, and other types of loans.

NOTE: Those who have served in the military should find out if they are eligible for veterans educational benefits by completing the checklist linked from Columbia University’s Veteran Affairs site. Likewise, those who have completed a term of service with AmeriCorps should contact AmeriCorps directly to see if they are eligible for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

Each year the school offers several competitive scholarship awards that target students pursuing particular interest areas: go to detailed information.

Additionally, we encourage students to use such resources as FastWeb or CollegeNET to search various databases of scholarships for MSW students. Here are some of the main organizations that offer scholarships to master’s-level students:

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund
U.S. Air Force

Your first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the academic year in which you are enrolling. Once we receive your FAFSA data, we can begin the evaluation process for determining your financial aid award package.

We usually begin processing financial aid packages between January and mid-February, and notification is sent out thereafter. You will receive a notification via email at the address, you supplied for your admission application.

All students who complete a FAFSA are eligible to receive the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Once you accept the loan, you must complete an entrance interview, sign a master promissory note, and fill out a loan request form. The funds will then be disbursed automatically to your student account at the beginning of each term. NOTE: The Department of Education charges a 1.068% origination fee on this loan, which will be deducted prior to the funds being disbursed.

In addition to the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you may choose to borrow either a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan or a private educational loan. The maximum amount you may borrow for either loan is listed under the Alternative Eligibility fund in your award letter.

The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a fixed interest loan program that enables graduate students to borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education to help pay for their educational expenses. This loan, which is based on credit-worthiness, requires a separate entrance interview, master promissory note, and loan request form. If you are approved for a PLUS loan, the funds will be disbursed automatically to your student account at the beginning of the term.

NOTE: The Department of Education charges a 4.272% origination fee on this loan, which will be deducted prior to the funds being disbursed.

If you have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Office of Financial Aid at [email protected] or 212-851-2293 to speak to one of us.

If you are denied the Grad PLUS Loan, we strongly encourage you to request a copy of your credit report and clear up any delinquencies of 90 days or more, or challenge any discrepancies you find on that report. You should then appeal to the Department of Education, providing documentation that those discrepancies or issues have been resolved. In our experience, most students who do this succeed in having their initial denial overturned. A second option is to reapply for the Grad PLUS Loan with a credit-worthy co-signer or endorser. If all else fails, submit an University Loan Appeal Form and supporting documentation to the [email protected].  This additional information will allow the financial aid office to calculate the assistance you still need and how much CSSW can cover.

For help with additional financial aid questions, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at:

By appointment: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. (After 5:00 p.m., appointments available by request.)

Walk-in: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (After 5:00 p.m., appointments available by request.)