Officers - Tuition Exemption

Tuition exemption

The Tuition Exemption (TE) Benefits Program pays tuition cost for your undergraduate and graduate courses at Columbia University, Barnard College and Teachers College. This is not a reimbursement or remission program; your tuition is simply exempt. You are eligible for this benefit after completing two years of regular full-time salaried continuous service. Your children may also be eligible for a 100% Tuition Exemption benefit for undergraduate degrees at Columbia and Barnard College. 

Eligibility For You

Most regular, full-time, salaried Officers are eligible, with varying benefits depending on their respective positions at the University.

Those officers who are not eligible include:

  • Visiting Officers of Instruction or Research
  • Part-Time Officers
  • Officers not on Columbia’s United States payroll
  • Officers who have not met applicable waiting periods

Waiting Periods

Eligibility depends on the Officer’s hire date and years of service, as well as their role at the University. The academic year begins with the fall term.

In general, Officers must meet a service requirement of two (2) years of full-time, continuous service* before they become eligible for Tuition Exemption for themselves.

After the service requirement is met, eligibility begins at the start of the next full term that begins after the eligibility date.


*An Officer will have a break in full-time continuous service if he or she voluntarily transfers to part-time status or terminates service for more than 31 days due to appointment ending, resignation, retirement, layoff, or involuntary termination. Effective after July 1, 2011, if an Officer involuntarily transfers to part-time status he or she will not be considered to have a break in full-time continuous service until he or she has been part-time for twelve (12) full months. Paid and unpaid leaves of absence are not considered a termination of service. Full-time continuous service as Support Staff immediately prior to a promotion to an Officer, shall count toward the two (2) year full-time continuous service requirement. A full-time post-doctoral fellow not on Columbia’s payroll will not have time prior to joining Columbia’s payroll counted toward the two (2) year full-time continuous service requirement.

The Tuition Exemption Benefit Program pays undergraduate or graduate tuition costs for Officers each term, depending on the hire date, degree matriculation* and waiting period conditions. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs at Columbia University (not Barnard College or Teachers College) are considered graduate degree programs for Tuition Exemption Benefit purposes.

The Program does not cover non-credit courses; course, lab or other school-specific fees; textbooks; housing fees; or tuition charged for auditing courses. For more information on coverage, see Courses Not Covered section below.

The following table assumes the applicable two-year waiting period has been met. Students may not be enrolled in degree and non-degree programs simultaneously.

View Table: Tuition Exemption Benefit Program Coverage

 


*Matriculation refers to being officially accepted, and enrolled in, a degree program. This requires a commitment to the program at the time of admission and enrolling in the correct number of courses based on the rules of the program to remain in good academic standing.

Important Note About Summer Term

Summer Term comprises several overlapping sessions. Individual summer sessions do not count as “terms.” Tuition Exemption covers the available amount spread over the entire Summer Term, not the available amount for each session. For example, an Officer who is in a category eligible for one course per term would be able to receive the Tuition Exemption Benefit for one course during all the summer sessions. An Officer eligible for fifteen (15) points per term would be able to receive the Tuition Exemption Benefit for up to fifteen (15) points during the summer sessions

Courses Not Covered

The following courses are not covered for any Officer by the Tuition Exemption Benefit:

  • Non-credit courses
  • For-credit courses at Teachers College or Barnard College taken as a special student
  • Certificate programs at Teachers College or Barnard College
  • Courses with no point/credit value
  • Applied music courses (i.e., musical instrument instruction)
  • Courses whose course number begins with the letter “Q” or “N,” unless such a course is taken to fulfill a degree requirement
  • Any courses you audit
  • Any doctoral courses

Please Note: These following are estimates only; please refer to the tuition information and calendar of your school's Registrar. Please contact central Student Financial Services at tuitionexemptionstudents@columbia.edu to arrange payment of a refund.

Withdrawing From Courses

Once an Officer applies for the Tuition Exemption Benefit, he or she may drop a course before the close of the Change of Program Period without using the Tuition Exemption Benefit.

After the close of the Change of Program Period, the Officer must contact the school in which he or she is enrolled about dropping a course. Additionally, if the Officer drops a course after the end of the Change of Program Period, the Officer will be deemed to have used the Tuition Exemption Benefit for one course, even though the amount of the Tuition Exemption Benefit may be pro-rated based on the withdrawal date. This course will count toward any course limitation in the Tuition Exemption Benefit Policy.

If you need to drop a course after the end of the Change of Program period as described above, and you do not want the dropped course to count toward any Tuition Exemption Benefit course limitation, you must contact Student Financial Services and ask that the Tuition Exemption Benefit be removed from your student account. You then will be responsible for any remaining tuition liability. However, the dropped course will no longer count toward any course limits in the Tuition Exemption Benefit Policy.

Eligibility for Spouse/Same-Sex Domestic Partner

Provided you are an eligible Officer, your spouse’s or same-sex domestic partner’s* eligibility for undergraduate or graduate tuition depends on your hire date, as detailed below.

  • Officers Hired, Rehired, Appointed, or Promoted After July 1, 2011: There are no undergraduate or graduate tuition benefits for the spouses or same-sex domestic partners of Officers hired, rehired, appointed or promoted after July 1, 2011.
     
  • Officers Hired On or Before July 1, 2011 

Undergraduate Tuition

The Tuition Exemption Benefit pays 100% of tuition costs for an eligible Officer’s spouse or same-sex domestic partner each term for an undergraduate degree program that began by the Fall Term 2011, at Columbia only, until that degree program is completed. Spouses and same-sex domestic partners who have received a bachelor’s degree from any accredited academic institution are not eligible for this Tuition Exemption Benefit.

Graduate Tuition:Course Numbers 4000 and Above

(unless taken to fulfill an undergraduate degree requirement)

Note: Post-baccalaureate certificate programs at Columbia University (not Barnard College or Teachers College) are considered graduate degree programs for this Tuition Exemption Benefit.

A spouse’s or same-sex domestic partner’s Tuition Exemption Benefit for graduate-level courses depends on the Officer’s date of appointment as a full-time, regular Officer of the University

View Tables:

What's Covered: Undergraduate Tuition at Columbia Only

What's Covered: Graduate Tuition at Columbia Only
 

Courses Not Covered

The following courses are not covered by Tuition Exemption for spouses or same-sex domestic partners:

  • Courses or certificate programs offered at Teachers College, Barnard College or Columbia Law School
  • Courses with no point/credit value
  • Applied music courses (i.e., musical instrument instruction)
  • Continuing education courses (i.e., those beginning with the letter “Q” or “N,” unless such a course is taken to fulfill a degree requirement)
  • Any audited courses
  • Courses taken toward a second bachelor’s degree
  • Any doctoral courses

Please Note: These are estimates only; please refer to the tuition policy and calendar of your school's Registrar. Please contact central Student Financial Services at tuitionexemptionstudents@columbia.edu to arrange payment of a refund.

Once a spouse or same-sex domestic partner applies for the Tuition Exemption Benefit, he or she may drop a course before the end of the Change of Program Period without using the Tuition Exemption Benefit.

After the close of the Change of Program Period, the student must contact the school in which he or she is enrolled about dropping a course. Additionally, if the spouse or same-sex domestic partner drops a course after the end of the Change of Program Period, the spouse or same-sex domestic partner will be deemed to have used the Tuition Exemption Benefit for one course, even though the amount of the Tuition Exemption Benefit may be pro-rated based on the withdrawal date. This course will count toward any course limitation in the Tuition Exemption Benefit Policy.

If you need to drop a course after the end of the Change of Program period as described above, and you do not want the dropped course to count toward any Tuition Exemption Benefit course limitation, you must contact Student Financial Services and ask that the Tuition Exemption Benefit be removed from the student account. You (the student) then will be responsible for any remaining tuition liability. However, the dropped course will no longer count toward any course limits in the Tuition Exemption Benefit Policy.

Eligibility for Your Children

Provided you are an eligible Officer, your children may be eligible for varying levels of Tuition Exemption at Columbia and Barnard College based on your hire date. The child also must meet the criteria in the following sections.

Waiting Periods:

  • An Officer hired, rehired, appointed or promoted to an Officer after July 1, 2011, must complete four years of regular salaried full-time continuous employment, without a break in service longer than 31 days, before children are eligible. Full-time continuous employment as Support Staff immediately prior to promotion, counts toward this four-year waiting period.
     
  • An Officer hired, rehired, appointed, or promoted to an Officer on or before July 1, 2011, does not have a waiting period before children are eligible.

Undergraduate Tuition

Eligible children are age 25 or under, at the time they begin matriculation for their undergraduate degree and are the biological children, adopted children or stepchildren, or are under the legal guardianship, of:

  • A full-time, salaried Officer of administration, instruction, the libraries, or research; or
  • The spouse or same-sex domestic partner of a full-time, salaried Officer (for example, stepchildren of Officers are eligible). After a child attains age 26, they must maintain matriculation status in the degree program they started prior to attaining age 26 in order to be eligible for the Tuition Exemption Benefit.

Ineligible children are those who are over age 25 at the time they begin matriculation for their undergraduate degree, or are the children of:

  • A visiting Officer of instruction or research
  • A part-time Officer
  • A postdoctoral research fellow or postdoctoral clinical fellow
  • The spouse or same-sex domestic partner of a visiting Officer or postdoctoral research scientist/scholar, postdoctoral research fellow or postdoctoral clinical fellow

Additional Eligibility Requirements:

Regardless of the Officer’s hire date and the child’s age, the child must also meet the following requirements:

  • The child is registered in an undergraduate degree program at Columbia College, Barnard College, the School of General Studies, or the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences;

OR

  • The child has completed high school, is registered as a non-degree student in an undergraduate course (below 4000), at Columbia only, and can satisfy the following conditions:
  1. Demonstrate in writing on the letterhead of an external institution, that the child is a candidate in good standing at another accredited undergraduate institution, and that the courses taken at Columbia will fulfill part of the child’s academic program. The child may enroll through the School of Continuing Education as a visiting special student for up to two terms; or
     
  2. The child is enrolled in courses at Columbia that are required for admission into an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree program at an external institution, as specified in writing by an admissions officer of the external program.

An accredited institution is one that is accredited by an organization recognized by the American Council on Education.

Please Note: For Columbia University Officers’ children who attend Barnard College, the Tuition Exemption Benefit is limited to eight Fall and Spring Terms. Courses taken at Barnard College during the summer are not counted against the eight-term limit.

Graduate Tuition

Eligibility for graduate tuition is limited to the children of certain Officers hired prior to 1993.

View Tables:

What's Covered: Undergraduate Tuition

What's Covered: Graduate Tuition

 

What if Both Parents are Columbia Officers?

Officers whose hire, rehire, appointment, or promotion to an Officer is after July 1, 2011: A child eligible through two Officers—–biological or adopted parents, step-parents or legal guardians—can only receive Tuition Exemption through one parent’s eligibility.

Officers whose hire, rehire, appointment, or promotion to an Officer is on or before July 1, 2011 and who have not had a break in service of more than 31 days after July 1, 2011: A child eligible through two Officers, both meeting the above requirements—biological or adopted parents, step-parents or legal guardians—can receive Tuition Exemption through both. The two benefits will be added together, up to no more than 100% of tuition costs. A separate Tuition Exemption Form must be submitted for each Officer.

Other Colleges: College Tuition Scholarship Program

If an Officer’s child is registered as an undergraduate at an accredited institution other than Columbia or Barnard College, he or she may be eligible for a College Tuition Scholarship (CTS). For full details, please see the College Tuition Scholarship Program.

Study Abroad

If an Officer’s child is registered as an undergraduate at Columbia or Barnard College and takes a term to study abroad, the courses will be eligible for coverage under the Tuition Exemption Benefit if the courses count toward the undergraduate degree, and Columbia or Barnard bills the tuition costs.If another accredited academic institution bills the tuition costs, the child may be eligible for a College Tuition Scholarship (CTS).

Summer Terms at Columbia

In addition to College Tuition Scholarships, dependent children of Officers and their spouses or same-sex domestic partners may be eligible for Tuition Exemption as non-matriculated students in Columbia’s Summer Session. The child must provide written proof from their college or university on their institution’s letterhead that they are a student in good standing at another college or university, and that the courses must be taken as part of his or her academic program. The child may also receive Tuition Exemption if accepted as a Visiting Student in the Special Students Program during the Fall and Spring Terms. The student’s college need not grant point credit for the courses taken, and these terms do not count toward the eight-semester limit of eligibility for the College Tuition Scholarship Program.

Primary Schools in New York City: Primary Tuition Scholarship Program

Younger children residing in the five boroughs of New York City, and attending primary school grades K-8 in an accredited private school that is also within the five boroughs, may be eligible for a Primary Tuition Scholarship (PTS). For full details, please consult the Primary Tuition Scholarship Program policy.

Courses Not Covered

The following courses are not covered by Tuition Exemption for dependent children:

  • Courses offered at Teachers College
  • Certificate programs at Barnard College or Teachers College
  • Courses with no point/credit value
  • Applied music courses (i.e., musical instrument instruction)
  • Continuing education (i.e., those beginning with the letter “Q” or “N” unless such a course is taken to fulfill a degree requirement)
  • Any audited courses

Please Note: These are estimates only; please refer to the tuition policy and calendar of your school's Registrar. Please contact central Student Financial Services at tuitionexemptionstudents@columbia.edu to arrange payment of a refund.

How to Apply

You must complete the application process for Tuition Exemption at the beginning of each term. This means your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form and other materials must be submitted to the appropriate office at your school during the Change of Program Period (see the Academic Calendar for details).

If your application is not approved, you will be responsible for any tuition for courses you keep. Columbia University does not accept responsibility for denied coverage if you are found to be ineligible for the benefit.

    After you have been accepted as a student and registered for classes, apply for Tuition Exemption each term by completing the following steps:

    Note: You will need to print, complete and sign your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form from the CU Benefits Enrollment System ("CUBES"). Eligibile dependents will need the Officer to print this form for them.

    Every term:

    • Log in to CUBES. You will be asked to enter your UNI and password and confirm your access using multifactor authentication (DUO).
       
    • To print this form:
      • Once logged in, select "Tuition."
      • On the Tuition Programs page, under Within Columbia University – Tuition Scholarship, select “Tuition Exemption – For Yourself” or “Tuition Exemption – For Your Dependents.”

    Note: If you are a graduate student taking courses related to your work, complete a Job-Related Graduate Course Certification (PDF) form. This form must be completed by you and your supervisor, signed in ink and dated by you and your supervisor. Attach the form to your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form.

    Submit completed and signed Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form:

    (if it applies, also submit your signed original Job-Related Graduate Course Certification form)

    Columbia Programs:

    Scan forms for email submission – tuitionexemption-students@columbia.edu or in person at:

    • Morningside Campus: 205 Kent Hall

    • Medical Center Campus (CUMC): 1-141 Black Building


    Barnard College Programs: Email bursar@barnard.edu or submit in person to Milbank Hall, Room 15

    Teachers College Programs: Email bursar@tc.columbia.edu or submit in person to Thompson Hall, Room 133

      After your eligible family member has been accepted as a student and registered for classes, apply for Tuition Exemption each term by completing the following steps:

      Note: Whether you are an Officer or an eligible family member, you will need to print, complete and sign your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form from the CU Benefits Enrollment System ("CUBES"). Eligibile dependents will need the Officer to print this form for them.

      Every term:

      1. The Officer must log in with his or her UNI and password to print your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form from CUBES. The online enrollment system contains your eligibility verification. 

      Note: If you are the eligible child of two eligible Officers hired on or before July 1, 2011, each Officer must print, complete and sign the form.

      2. If your eligibility does not appear in the system, you will need to add a dependent. Log in to CUBES, using your UNI and password, and confirm your access using multifactor authentication (DUO). Once logged in, select “Profile,” then “My Dependents,” and finally, choose "Add Dependent." Be prepared to scan and upload proof of relationship using the "Upload Documentation" link on the My Dependents screen.

      If you are unable to upload documentation, you may fax your documentation to 844-301-7225. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center at 212-851-7000. Once the documentation is verified and your record is updated, you will be able to print the Tuition Exemption Benefits forms.

      Qualifying forms of proof include:

      • For a spouse: marriage certificate;
      • For a same-sex domestic partner: See Benefits Highlights for Officers for guidelines.
      • For a dependent child: birth certificate; adoption papers or guardianship papers
      • For a dependent stepchild: birth certificate, adoption papers or guardianship papers and marriage certificate;
      • For a child of a same-sex domestic partner: birth certificate, adoption papers or guardianship papers, and domestic partnership documentation as described in Benefits Highlights

      3. If you are an eligible child not enrolled in a degree program but taking courses at Columbia, you must provide additional documentation from another accredited college or university. This documentation must be on the other school’s letterhead; it must show that you are either a candidate in good standing at the other school (and that the courses you are taking are part of your academic program), or that you are enrolled in courses specified in writing by an admissions officer as required for admission into an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree program. The other school must be accredited by an organization recognized by the American Council on Education.

      4. Submit the completed and signed Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form to Student Financial Services in 205 Kent Hall (Morningside), or Registration & Financial Services at CUMC in 1-141 Black Building (Medical Center), during the Change of Program Period each term (see the Academic Calendar for details).

        Dropping Courses

        If you do not want to continue a course, you should arrange with the appropriate School and the Registrar to drop it by the end of the first week of classes to avoid any possibility of financial responsibility, and to avoid having the course count toward the course limits.

        Note: Dropping all of your courses means withdrawing from the University. The University may charge a $75 fee for withdrawals depending on when you withdraw from the University, and this fee is not covered under this Tuition Exemption Benefit Program.

        Exceptions

        Retired Officers should print the applicable form and obtain eligibility confirmation from Columbia Benefits Service Center: