Costs and Budgeting
Standard Cost of Attendance
Financial aid starts with the standard cost of attendance (COA) for a student. The items listed below form the basis for what the Financial Aid Office can permit in overall financial aid, including student loans. The following student budget is for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Student Activity Fee
University Facilities Fee
Health & Related Services Fee
Student Health Insurance
(may be waived with proof of comparable coverage for U.S. students)
(one-time charge for new Columbia University students)
TOTAL UNIVERSITY CHARGES
Books & Supplies
[Only books/texts required as part of the academic course(s) will be allowed in the COA.]
TOTAL EDUCATIONAL COSTS
Living costs for the nine-month, 2019–2020 academic year are budgeted as follows:
Living Costs for 9-Month
2019–2020 Academic Year
(Rent/Utilities = $1,582/month)
Academic Year Budget
*This is the Standard Cost of Attendance (COA), which is used to determine eligibility for LRAP.
NOTE: For students borrowing federal student loans, the average educational loan fees for borrowers at Columbia Law School will automatically be added to the cost of attendance at the time of loan certification. Based upon an assessment of Law School borrowing during the 2018-19 academic year, the average educational loan fees amount to $2,386 ($216 for Stafford loans and $2,170 for Graduate PLUS loans).
International Student and Scholars Office (ISSO) Fees:
- International Services Fee: $100 per semester; $200 per academic year.
This fee supports the University's services to international students (those holding a nonresident visa).
- Administrative Processing Fee: $100 fee.
A one-time fee for newly-admitted international students for Columbia University visa supervision.
Dependent Care Allowance: $5,000 allowance for first child; $4,000 each additional child. Please contact our office for details regarding the regulations and documentation required for a dependent care allowance.
Living expenses provide for a moderate standard of living for the New York area during the nine-month academic year. It is very important to plan carefully so that your funds will be sufficient for the entire academic year. Students needing to finance their entire cost of education must keep in mind that they will be living on a fixed income, and must establish their spending priorities accordingly. If you choose to spend more in one area, you will need to reduce your expenses in other areas. Additionally, most grant and loan funds are divided equally and disbursed at the beginning of each semester, and must cover educational expenses for several months. As such, it is very important to budget carefully so that your funds will last until the next disbursement. The expected grant and loan disbursement dates are mid- to late August for the fall 2019 semester and mid-January for the spring 2020 semester. It is recommended that you prepay your major nondiscretionary expenses for the semester, such as tuition, fees and rent, or set aside adequate funds in a separate account to cover these costs for the entire semester.
Only books and texts required as part of the academic course(s) will be allowed in the COA. Discretionary purchases of books, texts and supplies are not accomodated in the COA. Therefore, suggested/recommended books or texts that are discretionary (not required or mandatory for an academic course) WILL NOT be included in the COA.
Students may encounter some expenses that are not covered by the standard COA—for example, the purchase of a personal computer, or unreimbursed costs for medical services which occur within the Law School’s academic year. To cover such expenses, students can request a review of their individual budget for possible adjustments to their COA to allow for additional borrowing through credit-based educational loan programs. To request a budget adjustment, students must complete the 2019-2020 Budget Adjustment Request Application (available from the Financial Aid Office) and submit it to our office, along with receipts and supporting documentation, where applicable (e.g., a letter from an impartial third party provider). Requests for budget adjustments are considered on a case-by-case basis. Statements and explanations provided by the student, family, other relatives/friends, etc. do not constitute supporting documentation for budget adjustments. Depending on the reason for the requested increase, and in order for the Financial Aid Office to determine if an increase is allowable, students may be asked to submit additional supporting documents beyond those originally submitted.
The following expenses will not be considered for budget increases: Payments for prior debts (credit card bills or other); summer expenses or expenses incurred during periods of non-enrollment; suggested or recommended books/texts for courses; other discretionary expenditures (e.g., car, entertainment, other lifestyle expenses). Therefore, students who have high consumer debt or other financial obligations that cannot be deferred while they are in law school must carefully examine their ability to accommodate their needs to the student budget. We strongly recommend that students take all measures to reduce their consumer debt prior to beginning their studies.
Please note that the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) WILL NOT cover any loans borrowed beyond the standard COA. Thus, while the Law School’s Financial Aid Office may approve budget adjustments beyond the standard COA, these amounts will not be eligible for LRAP benefits. For more information about LRAP, review the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) section of this site for a detailed description.
Most grant and loan funds are divided equally and disbursed at the beginning of each semester, and must cover educational expenses for several months. As such, it is very important to budget carefully so that your funds will last until the next disbursement.
The expected grant and loan disbursement dates are mid–to late August for the fall 2019 semester and mid-January for the spring 2020 semester.
Generally, one-half of the total award amount (minus any applicable origination fees for loans) will be credited directly to your student account each semester. Please plan accordingly for your living expenses (rent/utilities/food/etc.).
Finally, please be aware that financial aid documents that are missing from your financial aid file will prevent the disbursement of your aid. We will notify you regarding any necessary documents that are still outstanding. Please make certain to arrange for their prompt submission in order to avoid delays in the disbursement of your aid.
Loan Repayment Calculators
To locate loan repayment calculators, please go to the Links, Forms, and Loan Calculators webpage.