Office of Financial Aid

The Office of Financial Aid assists you in preparing to meet the costs of a social work education by putting together your financial aid package and providing information on scholarships, work-study funds, loans, payment schedules, refunds and much more.

When a student is admitted to the Columbia School of Social Work, they receive a budget, in which all costs associated with getting the MSW degree are estimated and included, and a financial aid package to help cover these costs.

The School is committed to working with every student who qualifies for admission to make it possible to attend.

Contact us by email [email protected] with questions.

Federal Financial Aid

Federal Student Aid

To apply for federal financial aid, the first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once our Financial Aid office receives your FAFSA data—which generally is not available to the School until after February 15th—we can begin the evaluation process for determining your financial aid package. The School generally begins emailing financial aid packages to students in early-to-mid March. Financial aid awards typically include a mix of institutional scholarshipsfederal loans, and eligibility for other types of loans.

  • Have you served in the military? Find out if you are eligible for veterans educational benefits by completing the checklist on the Columbia University’s Veteran Affairs site.
  • Have you completed a term of service with AmeriCorps? Contact AmeriCorps directly to see if you are eligible for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

Federal Work Study

The Federal Work-Study program is a form of financial assistance provided to students through part-time employment. 

NOTE: FWS funding is very limited and the School is not able to offer this award to all eligible students.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is an award not based on financial need. You are eligible for this loan if you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen; are enrolled at least half-time; have completed the FAFSA; and do not have a federal student loan in default. This loan has a fixed interest rate for the lifetime of the loan. 


Institutional Scholarships

Institutional Scholarships are awarded to a limited number of full-time students who demonstrate financial need according to pre-established guideline. The amount of this award differs among student based on eligibility and the availability of funds. Scholarship generally range from $5,000 to $20,000 annually. To qualify, students must be enrolled full-time, and have valid U.S citizenship or permanent resident status, and in good academic standing.


  • Students receive half of their award at the beginning of each term.
  • It is School policy to roll over the initially-awarded scholarship amount to the second year of study, provided there is no significant increase in the demonstrated need (EFC) of the student.
  • Are you a newly admitted student seeking additional scholarship funding? Please contact the Director of Admissions.

Competitive Scholarships

There are four social work-specific scholarships for which you may be eligible to apply at the end of your first year of study at CSSW. The application process opens at the end of spring term. Eligible students will receive instructions and an invitation to apply. Notifications of awards go out in time for the fall semester of their second year.

1) Paige E. Cook Jr. Fellowship
Awarded on the basis of excellence; preference given to a student with a career interest and work experience in substance abuse, world of work, men’s issues, and cross-cultural practice in clinical practice.

2) Benjamin and Agnes Louard Fellowship
Awarded as financial aid to a full-time CSSW student who has academic and leadership potential; preference given to students who demonstrate a commitment to employment in the public or voluntary non-profit sector or in local grassroots groups serving primarily, but not restricted to, an African-American population.

3) Overbrook Fellowship for Advanced Study in Clinical Social Work
A partial tuition award to students who demonstrate leadership potential in the field of clinical social work.

4) Mae L. Wien Prize in Family Planning, Counseling, and Population Control
Awarded to students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of family planning, counseling, and population control.

Interschool Scholarships
In addition, Columbia University offers some need-based awards that are not restricted to students in one Columbia school or college but that have highly specific criteria. Go to more information. If eligible, please submit application materials to CSSW’s financial aid office by June 1st.

Financial Support

Students experiencing acute financial hardships may request emergency funding from the Office of Financial Aid. Funding is limited and requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, as funding is available. Also, current students who need assistance with an outstanding student account balance may apply for funding through the Current Student Appeal Form. For more information, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.

Other Funding Sources

Loan Options

Based on your financial aid offer, you may be eligible to be considered for financial assistance from supplemental loans or outside sources in order to take care of your remaining need—listed on your award letter as “Alternative Eligibility.” If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen and have submitted a FAFSA, you may choose:


  1. Both are credit-based loans and may require the addition of a creditworthy cosigner. You are responsible for the interest charges during periods of enrollment or deferment but can choose to defer the payment of interest until full loan repayment begins.

The terms and conditions of federal student loans may be more beneficial than the terms and conditions of private educational loans.

Institutional Loans

The School and University have a limited amount of institutional loans available. The interest rate on these loans is 5% and amounts range between $2,000 – $10,000 Priority for these loans is given to students with high need (e.g., those who have been denied private or PLUS Loans). Award amounts are determined after a careful review of the student’s current financial aid and a submitted Alternative Funding Appeal Form and supplementary documentation. The School will attempt to provide funding to meet any funding gaps to cover a student’s tuition and fees, along with basic living expenses.

Resources and Forms

From applying for loans to establishing a payment plan, current students will find everything they need to manage their finances at our Financial Aid Resources and Forms page.


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.)

Still Have Questions?  

Visit our FAQ Pages.