Columbia University Cost of Attendance, Financial Aid, and Scholarships

As a prestigious Ivy League institution of higher education, Columbia University School of the Arts is one of the more expensive film schools nationwide. film school students have access to high-quality equipment and facilities, as well as award-winning instructors. Additionally, Columbia University is tuition-free to undergraduate students with families that earn under $150,000 per year. The university also awards $13 million in scholarships, teaching assistantships, and grants each year. The average grant awarded is $63,971.

The typical applicant should prepare to use a combination of Columbia University scholarships, third party scholarships, personal savings, and government financial aid to fund their BA or MFA degree.'s Application Database also provides an overview of the total scholarship amounts received by members within each graduate program's Admissions Statistics page. Take a look:
Keep reading for a breakdown of the cost of attendance for undergraduates and graduates, financial aid eligibility, and funding for international students, plus Federal Work-Study and scholarship opportunities.

Cost of undergraduate attendance (Fall 2023-Spring 2024)​

  • Tuition: $65,524
  • New student fee: $615
  • Books and personal: $3,672
Cost of Living
  • Room and board: $16,156
Total cost of attendance (first-year students): $85,967

Room and board fees vary year by year and reflect the cost of living in New York City. In addition, all first-year students must pay to live on campus. the cost breakdown reflects a student living in a residence hall. For more information, visit Student Financial Services.

Undergraduate applicants with families that earn less than $66,000 per year are not expected to contribute toward the cost of tuition. Additionally, freshmen applicants from low-income families receive a $2,000 start-up grant to streamline transitioning into college.

Undergraduate financial aid eligibility requirements​

Undergraduate students are expected to borrow $0 to attend Columbia University. The undergraduate financial aid process requires the steps:
  1. Submit the FAFSA: The application for federal financial aid opens on October 1, 2022. Use school code 002707.
  2. Make your CSS profile: To obtain institutional aid, including the Columbia University Grant, make your CSS profile starting October 1, 2022.
  3. Provide tax documentation: Upload tax documents for you and your parents (or step-parents or guardians) to determine eligibility for the Columbia Grant.
  4. Complete the Outside Scholarship and External Payment Form: Upload this form if you need more than Columbia’s institutional aid.
Columbia University encourages prospective applicants to use the estimated cost calculator. Undergraduate applicants who expect they will need additional funds after they receive their financial aid package can file an appeal.

Note: Transfer students are not eligible for scholarships through Columbia University, but are encouraged to seek third party scholarships and federal financial aid.

Undergraduate and graduate billing schedule

Film students are billed online via the Columbia UNI account with Student Account Statements. Students are sent a link to their statements each term (also available at The monthly payment plan may help you manage the cost of attendance.

Fall billing is spread across four statements; spring billing is spread across six statements; and summer billing is spread across two statements. Bills not paid by the first due date of the semester will incur a $150 late fee. Click here to learn more about the billing schedule.

Cost of graduate attendance (Fall 2023-Spring 2024)​


Years 1-2

  • Tuition: $71,918
  • Career Services fee: $160
  • Student Activity fee: $90
  • University Services and Support fee: $1,144
  • Health Services fee: $1,364
  • Medical Insurance: $4,541

Years 3-5 (Research Arts)
  • Tuition: $5,944
  • Film MFA Thesis Fee: $5,112
  • Career Services Fee: $160
  • Student Activity Fee: $180
  • University Services and Support Fee: $1,144
  • Health Service Fee: $1,364
  • Medical Insurance*: $4,541

Room and Board (Cost of Living)
  • Food and Housing: $25,560
  • Transportation: $1,143
  • Personal Expenses: $6,237
  • Books & Supplies: $2,874

Total cost of attendance for years 1-2: $115,031
Total cost of attendance for years 3-5 (Research Arts): $54,169

Living expenses are rough estimates and vary by semester. The total cost does not reflect additional academic fees, such as course or lab fees of $30-$125 per course and late payment or registration fees of $150 or more. To help offset additional costs, Columbia University School of the Arts offers a limited number of Teaching Assistantships; these two-year positions pay over $24,000.

Domestic graduate students can request a waiver for the Columbia Student Health Insurance plan by submitting an application. The application must be submitted at the beginning of the academic year along with proof of coverage.

International students must be insured by Columbia University’s health plan, unless they provide proof of coverage through a U.S.-based, employer-sponsored, group health plan as a primary, spouse, or dependent. Learn more about Columbia University's health insurance plan.

Graduate financial aid eligibility requirements​

Financial aid is need-blind, meaning that your financial background will not affect the admissions process. Full-time (12-18 credits per semester) graduate students have first priority for Columbia University School of the Arts scholarships. Filmmakers in their thesis year(s) are billed at a much lower Research Arts rate and rarely receive institutional scholarship support; graduate students must also pay thesis fees.

To apply for institutional aid, follow these steps:
  1. Choose the pull-down menu option in your School of the Arts MFA Application for Admission stating that you wish to be considered for institutional aid.
  2. U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents only: Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form at by February 1st, 2023. (Use school code 002707.)
  3. All MFA applicants: Complete the online School of the Arts Financial Aid Application by February 1, 2022 for admission in the fall of 2022.
Institutional and federal aid are not awarded during the summer semester; graduate students must plan accordingly for the D4 film project and living expenses. Prepare in advance by reviewing the School of the Arts financial checklist.

Funding for international students

Each year, Columbia University awards an average of $19 million in financial aid. International students are not eligible for federal student aid, so the University provides funding through institutional resources. The average award for international financial aid recipients is $66,350, usually encompassing a Columbia grant (non-repayable) and work-study.

International students who need supplementary funds may be eligible for loans from U.S. lenders; many of these loans require a credit-worthy U.S. resident or permanent non-U.S. resident as a co-signer. Learn more about qualifying for international student loans. The University recommends these available lenders.

Federal Work-Study and scholarships for film students

Columbia University offers a need-based Federal Work-Study (FWS) program to financially support film students through part-time employment. Positions are available throughout the university and within the off-campus community, including research-based roles and managing live events. Funds are dispersed from July 1 through June of the following year. To apply, you must meet these requirements:
Columbia University awards scholarships based on academic achievement, ethnic identity, and other factors. Additionally, New York State offers grants, scholarships, and loans to New York residents attending part-time or full-time film degree programs.