Columbia Student Support Initiative Is Announced

April 08, 2021

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I am writing today to announce the Columbia Student Support Initiative, a new effort dedicated to raising $1.4 billion in financial assistance for students by June 2025 and involving all 16 of our schools. This special campaign will add to our existing resources for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, and other forms of assistance that are critical to student success and wellbeing. Because the needs of students at each of our schools differ to some degree, each school will, accordingly, set its own goals and chart its own path. But the spirit animating the campaign will be shared across the institution. 
I know I do not need to make an elaborate case for this significant institutional effort. Columbia’s commitment to the support of its students is already deeply instilled in our collective being. It begins with our longstanding policies of need-blind undergraduate admissions and full-need financial aid. This commitment to ensure access to a Columbia education unconstrained by family wealth carries on through every school and program at the University. And in many of our professional schools, we do our very best to support student career choices that serve the public good but are not sufficiently remunerative.
I am very pleased to say that we launch this initiative with tangible momentum. In addition to the thousands of alumni and parents who give generously each year, we are inspired by extraordinary alumni leaders. Among them are Roy and Diana Vagelos, who ensured that generations of Columbia medical students can graduate debt-free; Board of Trustees Co-Chair Jonathan and Jeannie Lavine, whose inspirational gift endows scholarships for Columbia College students; Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis, who furthered their sustained generosity with a recent transformative financial aid gift for Business School students; Trustee Emeritus Armen Avanessians, who endowed fellowships for engineering PhD students focusing on data science; and Larry Lawrence, who recently endowed scholarships for the remarkably diverse students at the Columbia School of General Studies. Through a new Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) Scholars program established with a leadership gift from Keith Goggin, CAA leaders will fund support for students from every school each year.
A Columbia education is transformative for our students and financial need should not be a barrier to accessing it. We have for many years made financial aid a priority and have dedicated our resources accordingly, but there is more to do. This campaign, and the resulting support for our students, will begin a new era for Columbia.   
Lee C. Bollinger