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International J.D. Students

If you are an international student (i.e., someone who is not a U.S. citizen and not holding a U.S. permanent resident visa), you may face special challenges in financing your legal education. Because you are not eligible for federally guaranteed assistance programs, most private educational loans cannot be obtained without a U.S. cosigner, and there are no fully funded fellowships for law students in Columbia’s J.D. degree program, early financial planning is essential.

If you are applying for educational loans, you should provide the Office of Financial Aid with proof of your approved loan(s) in the amount(s) you will need by July 1, 2023, for timely processing.

International students who wish to apply for loans and Columbia Law School grants must complete the CSS Profile application and submit additional required documents, including tax forms (with English translation, if necessary), as indicated in the earlier Applying for Financial Aid section. These forms must provide parental income and asset information translated into U.S. dollar amounts at official rates of exchange as of the day of filing the form. In some cases, additional documentation may be requested.

All need-based grant packages include a significant loan component, composed of federal loans for U.S. students and private (credit-based) educational loans for international students. Because students who are not able to secure the loans necessary to finance their education do not receive any institutional funds to pay for their Law School expenses, they must find other means to pay for their education.

Some lenders offer private educational loans to international students who can provide a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen, or for some programs, a U.S. permanent resident. For more detailed information regarding private educational loan programs, please visit the Office of Financial Aid’s website. Please be aware that students have the right and ability to select the education loan provider of their choice, are not required to use any suggested lenders, and will suffer no penalty for choosing a lender that is not a suggested lender.

For private loan programs, it is the student’s responsibility to secure an eligible cosigner, and it is very important that you do so as soon as possible. Loans are accepted as documentation of financial resources only if they have been approved for credit by the lender of choice and certified by the Office of Financial Aid, so in order to avoid delays with your visa, apply early (preferably in May or early June) so that you have your loans finalized by the end of June.

Check with your private loan lender if a U.S. Social Security number is required of the student or only of the cosigner at the time of application.

International students holding a nonresident visa will be charged an International Services Charge each semester (currently $135, but subject to change) to cover the services provided by Columbia’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). The ISSO provides assistance with student visa questions. In addition, a one-time administrative processing fee (currently $109) will be assessed for newly admitted international students for Columbia University visa supervision. Please feel free to contact ISSO at 212-854-3587 or visit the website at