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Columbia latest to end low-income fees

Columbia will join a growing list of wealthy colleges and universities offering new and improved financial aid policies for the next academic year. Students from families earning less than $60,000 a year will no longer need to pay tuition, room and board or other fees. Families earning less than $100,000 will have a reduced expected contribution for tuition and other costs, the New York City university announced Tuesday.

Additionally, Columbia will offer grants instead of loans to students currently eligible for financial aid.

Undergraduates at Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science will be affected by the changes, and will be encouraged "to apply for exemptions from summer and academic-year work expectations when they engage in community service or accept unpaid research or internship commitments," according to yesterday's press release. Approximately 50 percent of students at Columbia's School of General Studies, who are generally older than undergrads in Columbia College, will receive additional aid next year, the release said.

"We are both proud of (our socioeconomic) diversity and determined to maintain it by expanding aid to the extent our resources allow so that our students will continue to benefit from the full range of experiences that are part of a Columbia education and, we hope, part of the lives they choose to lead in the future because of those experiences," Columbia President Lee Bollinger said in the release.

The change mirrors those that other elite colleges and universities announced in the past few months, as competitive and legislative pressure has pushed universities to strengthen financial aid packages. Brown announced its own financial aid boost Feb. 24, increasing aid spending by 20 percent, eliminating contributions for families earning less than $60,000 and ending loans for those earning less than $100,000.

Columbia's increase in financial aid spending is funded by donors and increased endowment spending, and it has currently raised $260 million of the $440 million it wants to raise for undergrad financial aid endowment, the release said.



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