Costs & Financial Aid

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.

Questions? Need help? Contact us by email at and/or make an appointment.

Costs of Attendance

New York City Campus
Costs of attending the New York City Campus consist of tuition and fees plus living and personal expenses.

  • The tuition for the 2016–2017 academic year totals $43,432 ($21,716 per semester, for which a student is eligible to enroll for 10.5 to 19.5 credits).
  • The fees for 2016–2017 are approximately $5,950.
  • Costs for books, transportation, and personal and living will be estimated and included in your budget and financial aid package; however, the actual costs for these items will vary by student.

For more details, including the breakdown of fees, along with an estimated cost of attendance for 2016–2017, click here.

Online Campus
Costs of attending the Online Campus consists of tuition (calculated per credit) and fees plus living and personal expenses.

  • The per-credit charge for 2016–2017 is $1,446. Students typically enroll for 13.5–16.5 credits per term, which brings the total tuition to $19,521–$23,859 per term.
  • Additionally, Online Campus students are charged a $200/term Learning Resource Fee. (Other possible fees include the Health Service Fee and Student Medical Insurance Fee.)
  • Costs for books, transportation, and personal and living will be estimated and included in your budget and financial aid package; however, the actual costs for these items will vary by student.

For more details, including the breakdown of fees, along with an estimated cost of attendance for 2016–2017, click here.

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 scholarships, federal 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. The current rate is 5.31% (for loans disbursed July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017). Loans first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2015–Oct. 1, 2016 have an origination fee of 1.068%, which is deducted prior to the loan being disbursed.


Institutional Scholarships
Institutional scholarships are awarded to a limited number of full-time students who demonstrate financial need according to pre-established guidelines. The amount of this award differs among students based on eligibility and the availability of funds. Scholarships generally range from $2,500 to $14,000 annually. To qualify, students must be enrolled full-time, including fieldwork, and have valid U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.


  • 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.

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.