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Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Office of International Services

Money Basics > Before You Begin: Planning Your Finances

Before You Begin: Planning Your Finances

The Office of International Services receives many inquiries about financial aid or scholarship assistance from students who intend to apply to Teachers College or who have been accepted to Teachers College.  The following information is intended to provide you with a realistic sense of the cost of pursuing your educational career at TC.  In this regard, it is important to keep in mind the extraordinary high cost of studying and living in New York City. For instance, the estimated tuition, fees, and living expenses for a full-time student for the 2012-2013 academic year is over US $50,000.  Careful and realistic planning is therefore essential.

The TC Scholarship Process


Unfortunately, Teachers College has only limited scholarship resources, and competition for those resources is very keen.  As a result, many deserving students remain financially unsupported by the College.  Even those students who receive scholarship assistance from TC are usually provided only a limited amount of funding covering only partial tuition expenses.  As a result, international students should plan on meeting all required costs-'"including tuition, fees, and living expenses-'"through personal, family, or outside resources without expectation of substantial aid from TC.

First-time applicants to Teachers College who submit an application for admission by the -'early' or -'priority' deadline are automatically considered for scholarship awards from TC.  Please note that the Office of International Services (OIS) does not participate in making decisions about applicants' eligibility for TC scholarship or financial aid.  Financial aid from TC is determined by the faculty of each academic department, and is dependent upon each department's resources, guidelines, and priorities.  Departmental committees typically meet in March and April for fall admission, and notifications of awards are announced in April and May.

International students are considered by departmental committees for all scholarships for which they are eligible.  The awards are given in tuition points and, unless otherwise stated in writing, are for one year only.  Students will still be responsible for covering the cost for any remaining tuition, fees, books, health insurance, and other living expenses.

Restrictions on Employment


International students on student visas are subject to immigration restrictions that strictly limit on- and off-campus employment.  Students should not make the assumption that they will be able to begin work immediately as a way of meeting required educational and living expenses. Employment does not provide a reliable means of covering educational expenses, although employment may assist with everyday -'pocket' expenses.  Employment is not guaranteed and may vary widely in salary ranges. However, with this in mind, many students do find on-campus employment at such locations at the Library, Computer Center, and various other TC and Columbia departments to help with their everyday expenses.

Assistantships. Individual departments may award students teaching or research assistantships as a part of their TC financial aid package.  Such employment positions are typically limited in duration and may be compensated in the form tuition points only, or involve a salary component.  Students should discuss opportunities for assistantships with their departments.

Outside Sources of Funding


The vast majority of international students at TC finance their education through personal or family savings.  However, many students have been able to secure funding from diverse outside sources, including home-country employers, government agencies and education ministries, and public and private scholarship or funding organizations.  Other alternatives include the Fulbright scholarship program (http://www.iie.org), which requires careful advance planning.

We highly recommend that every student continue to search for outside sources of funding.  This section of our web site has a list of outside organizations that have supported international students, although it is important to read through each organization's list of requirements and qualifications.

Student Loans


Certain U.S. banks, such as Citibank and JP Morgan Chase, offer international student loan programs for qualified applicants.  However, these loan programs typically require that students have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to act as a -'co-signer' to the loan application.  If you have a co-signer, please go to the web site of your preferred bank or lending institution for more information. Information about lenders are also available on the web site of the TC Office of Financial Aid.

Deferring Your Education


Students who do not have adequate financial resources to begin studies immediately have the option of deferring admission to TC for up to one year, to gain additional time to save funds or find outside or home-country sources of funding.  If, after being admitted to TC you decide to defer your education (whether for financial, professional, or personal reasons), please contact the Office of International Student Services at tcintl@tc.columbia.edu and the Office of Admission at tcinfo@tc.edu. Please be sure to include your admission number and program code. Note that deferrals are for a maximum of one year. If you do not enroll within one year, you will need to reapply for admission.

We hope this information is helpful to you. Please contact the Office of International Services if you have any other questions.
Office of International Services
Teachers College, Columbia University
Box 7, 525 W 120th Street
New York, New York 10027-6696
Phone: (212) 678-3939 ♦ ~ Fax: (212) 678-3990 ♦ Email: