Financial Aid

What is the cost per year?

For an explanation and breakdown of other fees, go to Cost of Attendance.

Please consult your partner school website or Office of Financial Aid for information about the cost of that portion of your program. NOTE: In your “split year” – when you are in residency at CSSW for one term and in residency at the partner school for the other term – your tuition and fees will be calculated per term based on each school’s set cost of attendance. Social Work and Public Health dual degree students should be mindful that Student Medical Insurance plans are year-long selections. The School through which you are billed in the Fall of your “split year” will determine the cost and type of medical coverage you have for the entire year – Morningside campus vs. the Medical Center – even after you switch program residency in the Spring term. This means that if you are billed via Public Health in the Fall and have the CUMC Student Medical Insurance Plan, you will be billed for that plan and must adhere to that policy’s coverage guidelines even after you switch your billing to Social Work in the Spring, and vice versa.

What types of financial aid are available?

Financial aid awards typically include a mix of institutional/merit scholarships, Federal Work-Study, federal loans, and other types of loans. If you are awarded Federal Work Study from the School of Social Work, you may only earn those funds via your practicum placement. This means that during your “split year” – when you are in residency at SW for one term and in residency at the partner school for the other term – if you are also in practicum placement and earning work study, you may only earn those funds during the term you are enrolled through the School of Social Work. If the partner school awards you FWS while you’re in residency there, you must secure a campus-based FWS job that is separate from your practicum placement in order to earn those funds. 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.

When will I be notified about my financial aid?

We usually begin processing financial aid packages in March, and notifications are sent out thereafter. You will receive a notification via e-mail of your awarded aid. If you are in residence at your partner school in the Fall of your “split year,” the School of Social Work generally isn’t able to access your financial aid record until late November/early December, and will offer you a Spring financial aid package once your record has been transferred to the school.

Are there special scholarships I can apply for?

We offer a handful of competitive scholarship awards for continuing students, which are announced via e-mail in March or April of your first year. In addition, we circulate any scholarship announcements from outside organizations to the student body via e-mail. As you approach your second year in residence at Social Work, we strongly encourage you to research possible scholarship opportunities via the Internet, community and/or religious organizations, professional networks, and so on. NOTE: If you are awarded a scholarship from an outside source, you must notify the Office of Financial Aid (send an e-mail to so that it can be included in your financial aid package. If you are receiving federal loans or work study, it is a federal requirement that you report any outside awards to the School.

What if I’m not satisfied with my financial aid package?

You may appeal for more scholarship money to the Director of Admissions at (If you have received a higher scholarship offer from another graduate school of social work, a copy of that offer should be included in your appeal.) All other appeals, including those for work-study, should be e-mailed to Please be mindful that while we do our best to provide need-based awards to all eligible students, our scholarship and work-study funding is limited.

Scholarship appeals are generally responded to within two weeks. Work-study appeals will initially be reviewed in late summer and will continue to be reviewed throughout the academic year; you will be notified via email if we are able to grant your appeal.

What kind of loans can I apply for?

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. For more information, go to Questions and Answers About Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Students. 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 or 212-851-2293; or make an appointment to speak to one of us.


What if I’m denied a PLUS or private loan?

If you are denied the 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. Another option is to reapply for the PLUS Loan with a credit-worthy co-signer or endorser. If neither of these options works, we suggest that you reach out to our Office of Financial Aid. A financial aid officer will ask you to compile and submit a monthly budget listing all of your basic living expenses (rent, food, utilities, personal expenses, etc.). This additional information will allow the financial aid office to calculate the assistance you still need and how much CSSW can cover.

I’m worried about the high loan debt I will accrue as dual degree student. Does the school offer repayment programs or advice on how to manage my loan payments after I graduate?

We strongly encourage you to research federal loan repayment programs, as well as loan forgiveness programs. As of Dec. 21, 2012, the Pay as you Earn Plan became available for eligible borrowers. The Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan helps keep your monthly student loan payments affordable, and usually has the lowest monthly payment amount of the repayment plans that are based on your income. If you need to make lower monthly payments, this plan may be for you. For instance, the Income-Based Repayment Plan for the Direct Loan and FFEL Programs helps in lowering your monthly loan payments to a manageable level. For more details, go to IBR information sheet (PDF: 2 pages). IBR is particularly beneficial when combined with the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, which allows students to have their loan debt forgiven after completing 10 years of qualifying employment in the public service sector while simultaneously making 120 on-time loan repayments. For more information, go to the PSLF fact sheet (PDF: 2 pages).The Department of Education also has two helpful resources: a brochure, “Your Federal Student Loans: Learn the Basics and Manage Your Debt” (PDF: 56 pages); and a Web site full of useful information about the repayment of student loans.