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Four factors to consider before enrolling in the summer semester are classes, housing, dining, and financial aid. Unfortunately, the official information about the summer semester can seem confusing. Take a look at Spectrum’s explanation of everything you need to know!


Full-time students in Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science get a total of 40 credits included in their 2020-21 tuition fee, with every additional credit costing $1,896 each. Columbia College students can take up to eight credits per summer session while SEAS students can take up to six credits per summer session.

While this might sound limiting, many of the classes offered during the summer will be “immersive courses”—75-minute sessions four-to-five days a week or 150-minute sessions on  Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. One good way of estimating the time commitment of these summer session courses is to assume that the workload will be more intense than that of a regular fall or spring semester class because you will be covering the same amount of material in a condensed period of time. Check out this fall article for more information on immersive courses.

Barnard students get a total of 45 credits included in their tuition for this academic year, with every additional credit costing $1,860 each, and no limit on how many credits can be used in each summer block.

Students in the School of General Studies can get four free credits for the summer. However, to qualify, students must have previously completed a total of 30 Columbia credits over the course of the fall and spring semesters. Alternatively, students can pay for credits at $1,896 each. Similar to Columbia College and SEAS, there is a limit on how many credits can be used in the extra semester: 15 credits maximum over the entire summer, with a nine-credit cap for each summer session.

For more details and tips on summer academics, check out this article.


On-campus housing is offered for students in all four undergraduate colleges. Generally speaking, eligibility is determined by full-time enrollment during the respective summer blocks.

For more details on and alternatives for housing, check out this article.


Columbia dining service will be available during summer A and B, but not during the interim periods. Another limitation of the dining service is that you cannot get a dining plan for only summer B; the two options are summer A or both summer A and B. Three plans are available which are similar to first-year plans. For summer A only, students on any dining plan will get $100 in Flex. Nineteen meals per week cost $1,580, 14 meals per week cost $1,448, and 10 meals per week cost $1,241. For summer A and B, students will get $200 in Flex on any plan. Nineteen meals per week cost $3,160, 14 meals per week cost $2,896, and 10 meals per week cost $2,482.

Barnard dining plans have not yet been announced.

Financial Aid

Unlike in previous years, financial aid is available for the summer semester. Full-time students in Columbia College and SEAS who have completed less than 40 credits during the fall and spring semesters, who were recipients of a Columbia University grant during both semesters, and who are enrolling in summer A or B classes will be eligible for a summer grant. Specific details have not yet been finalized, but students living on-campus will have their housing, dining plan, mandatory fees, and personal allowance covered. For those living off-campus, the grant will cover mandatory fees and personal allowance, but living expenses will require another application.

Students from Columbia College, SEAS, Barnard, or GS can get their summer contribution assessed based on their modified summer work expectations.

Specific details—like particular courses and registration—are still being determined, so make sure to check back for more explainers!

Staff writer Nirutti Charupaisankit can be reached at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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