Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

  • Do you offer financial aid?
  • Will participating in this program help me get into Columbia College?
  • How much do books and course materials cost?
  • How much homework do teachers assign?
  • The Application Process

    Do you offer financial aid?

    We at the Programs for High School Students at Columbia University are committed to ensuring that the cost of your education doesn’t stand in the way of your goals.

    For 2017, we have been allocated financial aid funding for all Programs for High School Students, primarily in the form of need-based scholarships. Individuals who qualify based on required eligibility and financial documentation will be directed to apply for a scholarship following their admission. These individuals will be reviewed on a first-admitted, first-considered basis. In addition, a small number of merit-based funding opportunities will be available.

    Scholarship awards may be subject to income tax. If awarded aid, please consult with the IRS or your tax advisor to determine the taxability of your scholarship and how such amounts may affect the amount for your education tax credit or deduction. Award recipients will receive a form 1098-T which will include a tuition statement, including any scholarships received from the University. For additional information on these issues, please reference IRS Notice 97-60: Consumer Guidance on Education Tax incentives and IRS Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Higher Education. These documents, as well as copies of IRS Forms 8863 and 8917, can be obtained at the IRS web site,, or by calling the IRS 1-800-829-1040. Forms 8863 and 8917 are also available at

    Will participating in this program help me get into Columbia College?

    Like any extracurricular activity, participation in this program can help you to present yourself as an interesting candidate. Additionally, the instructor-written evaluations that you receive upon completion of the program can potentially be used as college recommendations.

    How much do books and course materials cost?

    The cost of books and materials varies from class to class. Students should budget approximately $50 for course materials.

    Note: Supplies for Introduction to Architectural Design and Theory cost between $250 and $300. For Biomedical Engineering: Physical Effects on Cells, Corporate Valuation, Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Changing the World Via Venture Creation, Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing, Sustainable Urbanization and The Stock Market, students are required to bring laptops. For Photography: The Camera Craft, students are expected to have their own 35mm SLR film cameras.

    Students enrolled in Building Web Applications with Python, Introduction to Programming in C and Introduction to Computer Programming: Fundamentals of C are required to bring laptops. Laptops can either be a PC or a Mac, but should have 8GB – 10GB of free space. 

    How much homework do teachers assign?

    The amount of homework varies from one class to another. In most cases, students should expect no more than two hours of homework per night.

    What are you looking for in an applicant?

    The admissions committee looks for talented, highly-motivated students who are interested in attending the program because they have a passion for learning and wish to enrich their knowledge of the particular field for which they are applying.

    Though there are no set minimum requirements (such as a particular GPA), the application materials should establish that the student has the necessary academic background and level of ability, motivation, and maturity necessary for the curricular option for which he or she is applying. Students must present evidence of the completion of any particular prerequisites identified in the individual program descriptions.

    May I still be in the program if I am already a senior in high school?

    Yes, you do still qualify for our Junior-Senior Division.

    For recommendation letter #1, may I submit a letter from a teacher who knows me well instead of from my principal, headmaster, or guidance counselor?

    No. No substitutions are accepted for letter #1. Most principals, headmasters, and guidance counselors check with the student’s teachers before writing recommendations. The perspective of an administrator is valuable in making admissions decisions.

    What if my PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores are low?

    We do not ask for these scores as part of the application. If they are available, we will consider them, particularly in the case of students applying to study science or math.

    I took the program last year. Must I reapply?

    You should submit a new application form, the Behavioral Standards Consent Form, a letter from an instructor, and an up-to-date high school transcript. You need not submit a personal essay, the application fee, or a recommendation from a guidance counselor or principal. Creative writing applicants should follow the directions for submitting required writing samples. When applying online you should follow the application instructions for past participants.

    When will I be notified of an admissions decision?

    It normally takes three to five weeks to receive a decision after all application materials have been received.

    Should I expect additional mailings after receiving my admissions letter?

    You will receive instructional emails after submitting your enrollment form and committing to attend the program, but no mailings will be sent via postal mail.