College Tuition Scholarship

For eligible dependent children of full-time regular salaried Officers, a College Tuition Scholarship (CTS) pays 50% of a student’s undergraduate tuition at accredited higher education institutions outside Columbia (up to an annually defined limit), for up to eight semesters (or the equivalent number of trimesters or quarters). Officers hired after July 1, 2011 must meet a 4-year service requirement for eligibility. After the service requirement is met, eligibility begins the start of the next full term after the eligibility date. To receive this benefit, Officers must submit the application paperwork each term. Columbia University reserves the right to change or terminate the CTS Benefit Program at any time. In the event that the information contained in this policy conflicts with any other published information, this policy prevails.

For Full-Time Faculty and Other Officers of the University (includes Officers of Instruction, Administration, the Libraries, and Research) and their Eligible Children:

Officers are Eligible if:

  • You are a full-time salaried Officer of administration, instruction, the libraries, or research; and
  • You or your spouse/same-sex domestic partner has a dependent child—a natural child, adopted child, or stepchild, or a child for whom one of you has legal guardianship—who is a candidate for an undergraduate degree at an accredited college or university other than Columbia or Barnard College; and
  •  the dependent child is age 26 or under at the time they begin matriculation* for their undergraduate degree;

AND:

  • You were hired, appointed or promoted to an Officer on or before July 1, 2011, and have not had a break in service of more than 31 days after July 1, 2011,

OR:

  • You were hired, appointed or promoted to an Officer after July 1, 2011, or have had a break in service of more than 31 days after July 1, 2011, and have completed four years of full-time continuous service.

Officers are Not Eligible if:

  • You are a visiting officer of instruction or research, or you are a postdoctoral research fellow, or postdoctoral clinical fellow.

 

* 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. 

Eligibility depends on the Officer’s hire date and years of service.

For Officers who were hired, rehired, appointed or promoted after July 1, 2011: You are eligible to receive a CTS for the next full term following completion of four years of continuous full-time service and meeting the other eligibility requirements as detailed above.

For Officers who were hired, rehired, appointed, or promoted on or prior to July 1, 2011: You are eligible to receive a CTS for the next full term, without regard to a service requirement, after you meet the eligibility requirements as detailed above.

For eligible Officers hired, rehired, appointed, or promoted after 7/1/2011, or with a break in service of more than 31 days after 7/1/2011:

A College Tuition Scholarship (CTS) pays, at an accredited* undergraduate academic institution outside Columbia or Barnard College, the lesser of 50% of the external institution’s tuition or 50% of the current year’s Columbia College tuition, for eight (8) semesters (or the equivalent number of trimesters or quarters). If the tuition at your child’s college exceeds the tuition rate for Columbia College, the maximum award you will receive is 50% of the current Columbia College rate. If both parents are eligible Officers hired after 7/1/2011, a CTS pays the lesser of 50% of the external institution’s tuition, or 50% of the current year’s Columbia College tuition. There is only one CTS benefit available per child.

For eligible Officers hired, rehired, appointed, or promoted on or before 7/1/2011, and without a break in service of more than 31 days after 7/1/2011:

A College Tuition Scholarship (CTS) pays, at an accredited* undergraduate academic institution outside Columbia or Barnard College, the lesser of 50% of the external institution’s tuition or 50% of the current year’s Columbia College tuition, for eight (8) semesters (or the equivalent number of trimesters or quarters). If the tuition at your child’s college exceeds the tuition rate for Columbia College, the maximum award you will receive is 50% of the current Columbia College rate. If a student has two parents eligible for the benefit, and both parents were hired, appointed, or promoted on or before 7/1/2011, and have not had a break in service after 7/1/2011 of more than 31 days, the CTS will add both parents’ benefits to pay 100% of the lesser of the external institution’s tuition, or the current year’s Columbia College undergraduate tuition rate. Both parents need to apply for the benefit.

CTS covers tuition costs only. Fees such as health service fees, housing fees, student activity fees, laboratory fees, or books are not covered, even if the bill from the college combines them with “tuition.” If your dependent child receives awards and scholarships from other sources, the amount of the CTS will be capped at your tuition liability at the school your child attends. A CTS will never cover more than either the maximum CTS award, or what you need to cover your actual tuition costs after awards and scholarships, whichever is less.

EXAMPLE: If the tuition at both Columbia College and your child’s college is $10,000 per term, a student who has $5,000 per term in non-CTS awards and scholarships will still receive a $5,000 CTS to attend the other college; a student who has $8,000 in awards and scholarships, however, will only receive a $2,000 CTS.

The CTS program will cover a student for summer terms. This is in addition to the eight (8) semesters (or equivalent number of trimesters or quarters) already allotted, provided that the summer courses are taken after the dependent child has matriculated for the first semester of study and the summer courses are taken during those years in which the student is eligible for the eight semesters of fall or spring term CTS. The dependent child must provide written proof from their college or university on the institution’s letterhead that they are a student in good standing, and that the summer courses are required as part of his or her academic program.

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. To qualify, the child must provide written proof from their accredited* college or university, on their institution’s letterhead, that they are a student in good standing at the external institution, and that the courses are required 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 at Columbia. 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.

Note: To be eligible, dependent children must be age 26 or under at the time they begin matriculation for their undergraduate degree. After a child attains age 26, they must maintain matriculation status for their undergraduate degree that they started on or prior to age 26 to be eligible for CTS.

Layoff

If you are laid off during a term, your child’s CTS for that term will not be revoked. However, he or she will not be eligible for a CTS for any subsequent term.

Involuntary Termination or Involuntary Transfer to Part-Time Employment

If you are involuntarily discharged or released, or involuntarily transferred—other than for cause—from a full-time to a part-time appointment during a term, the CTS benefit for the current term will not be revoked. However, the Officer will not be granted CTS benefits for any subsequent term. If your employment is terminated for cause, you will be required to pay back a portion of the CTS benefit for the current term, according to the tables below. Note that the day of the month is not relevant for this purpose. (Eligibility officially ends at the close of business on the last day of your active, full-time employment with the University.)

Voluntary Resignation or Voluntary Transfer to Part-Time Employment

If you resign, are discharged or released, or switch from a full-time to a part-time appointment during a term, you must refund to Columbia a portion of any CTS benefit received for that term. The accompanying tables tell you what portion of your CTS you are entitled to retain if you leave in a given month. Note that it does not matter which day of the month marks the end of your eligibility; only the month matters. (Eligibility officially ends at the close of business on the last day of your active, full-time employment with the University.)

Schools with Three Terms

Schools With Three Terms

Schools with Four Terms

Schools with Four Terms

You must apply for a CTS term by term. EBPA will track the 8-semester maximum. After the initial term, which requires additional paperwork, the procedure for each term remains the same.

To apply for College Tuition Scholarship Benefit your dependent child’s name must be listed on the form. If you need to add a dependent, go to https://humanresources.columbia.edu/ and click on the CUBES logo. You will be asked to enter your UNI and password and confirm your access using multifactor authentication (DUO). Once logged in, select “Profile,” “My Dependents,” then 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 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 College Tuition Scholarship (CTS) Eligibility & Application.

Qualifying forms of proof include:

  • for your dependent child—birth certificate, adoption papers, or legal guardianship papers
  • for the dependent child of your spouse—birth certificate, adoption papers or legal guardianship papers, and marriage certificate  
  • for the dependent child of your same-sex domestic partner—birth certificate, adoption papers or legal guardianship papers, and evidence of partnership (in other words, either a marriage certificate issued by a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, or two pieces of documentation that show shared financial responsibilities. Acceptable documentation includes a joint lease or mortgage, joint bank account statement, joint ownership of a motor vehicle, designation of the partner as primary beneficiary in the Officer’s will, designation of the partner as beneficiary for the Officer’s life insurance or retirement benefits, assignment of power of attorney to the partner. In addition, the domestic partner must be an adult of the same gender, and not related to the Officer by blood. The Officer and domestic partner must have lived together in a committed personal relationship for at least six consecutive months before enrolling for coverage and must anticipate continuing to live together in a personal relationship in which they have joint and reciprocal financial responsibilities)

Note: The first-term process must be followed for each dependent child, even if you have received a CTS for other children in the past.

EBPA cannot process applications for the fall before July 1 each year.

You should submit the CTS application to EBPA as soon as you receive the itemized tuition bill from your child’s college or university for the upcoming term.

Print, complete and sign the Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form from CUBES.

  • Submit the completed CTS application form together with (a) a copy of the itemized annual tuition bill from the college or university; (b) information about any other awards or scholarships your child may be receiving; and (c) a copy of your child’s birth certificate (for your first CTS application only).  
  • EBPA cannot process your CTS application for the upcoming fall semester before July 1.

Complete the above steps and then submit documentation to EBPA as part of your application for the CTS Benefit.

  • Submit your application to EBPA via one of the following options:
  • Secure Document Portal: https://secure.ebpabenefits.com
  • Fax: 603-773-4425  
  • By Mail: EBPA,

         P.O. Box 1140,

         Exeter, NH 03833-1140

EBPA will send the scholarship check directly to the college or university within three weeks of receiving your completed application. For application status and payment processing questions, please email EBPA at tuition@ebpabenefits.com or call EBPA Customer Service at 1-888-456-4576.

If Your Application is Missing Required Documentation – Your CTS application will not be processed until all required information is received. EBPA will send an email identifying the missing information. If you do not respond, the application will not be processed for payment.

CTS Payment Notification – EBPA will notify you by mail to confirm the CTS Benefit amount and payment to your child’s college or university. .

Questions: If you have any questions about these required forms or documentation, please call the Columbia Benefits Service Center at 212-851-7000 or email hrbenefits@columbia.edu, Subject: “CTS Question(s).”

Under current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, a CTS only counts as taxable income when it benefits the dependent child of a same-sex domestic partner. Note: If a student receives tuition exemption for a Columbia Summer Session, or for a term as a visiting student in the Special Students Program, this will also be taxable income if the student is the dependent child of a same-sex domestic partner.

Tuition Exemption Benefit Supplement: Reduced Employee Rate for Officers

For Full-Time Officers of the University (includes Officers of Instruction, Administration, the Libraries and Research)

As a supplement to the Tuition Exemption Benefit, a reduced Employee Rate for tuition costs may be available, depending on your eligibility, for undergraduate and graduate courses you take, at Columbia University only. This employee tuition rate is available before waiting periods for Tuition Exemption are met, as well as after waiting periods for Officers taking a number of courses that exceeds the Tuition Exemption course limits.

Note that this is not a reimbursement or remission program; a portion of your tuition (35%) is simply exempted. However, you are responsible for the remaining tuition (65%) and all fees—for example course fees, textbooks and housing fees—where applicable.

To find out about the benefit available to you, read this Appendix thoroughly before you apply for the benefit. This material will help you be fully prepared. To receive the Tuition Exemption Benefit or this Employee Rate, Officers must first be accepted and enrolled in the school they wish to attend. For more information, see the Admissions page of the main Columbia website. Columbia University reserves the right to change or terminate the Reduced Employee Tuition Rates at any time. Please note that the Reduced Employee Tuition Rate Program does not cover courses taken outside Columbia University.

In the event that the information contained in this policy conflicts with any other published information, this policy prevails.

Most regular, full-time, salaried Officers are eligible for this Employee Rate of 65% of tuition costs. The reduced rate is available in two instances:

  • Before the two (2) year Tuition Exemption Benefit waiting period is met, the 65% Employee Rate can help cover the cost of courses outside Tuition Exemption
  • After the waiting period is met, the 65% Employee Rate can help cover the cost of courses over the Tuition Exemption Benefit limit

Those officers who are ineligible include:

  • Visiting Officers of Instruction or Research
  • Part-Time Officers
  • Officers not on Columbia’s United States payroll

The Reduced Employee Tuition Rates Program pays 35% of the undergraduate or graduate tuition costs, at Columbia only, for Officers each term. This means the Officer is responsible for 65% of the tuition costs. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs at Columbia University 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.

Summer Term comprises several overlapping sessions. Individual summer sessions do not count as “terms.” The reduced Employee Tuition rate 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 the reduced Employee Tuition rate for one course would be able to receive the reduced Employee Tuition rate for one course during all the summer sessions.

The following courses are not covered for any Officer by the Tuition Exemption Benefit OR by the 65% Employee Rate Program:

  • Non-credit courses
  • All courses 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
  • All doctoral courses

 

Changes in Employment Status That May Affect Eligibility

Changes in Employment Status That May Affect Eligibility

You must complete the application process for the reduced Employee Tuition rates 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 reduced Employee Tuition rate.

After you have been accepted as a student and registered for classes, apply for the reduced Employee Tuition Rate 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.

Officers: How to Apply

Every term:

  1. Log in with your UNI and password to print your Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form from the CU Benefits Enrollment System.
  2. If you are a graduate student taking courses related to your work, complete a Job-Related Graduate Course Certification form here (degree) or here (non-degree) (also see Tax Treatment). 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.
  3. Submit the completed and signed Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form and, if it applies, your signed original Job-Related Graduate Course Certification form, to the Student Service Center in 205 Kent Hall (Morningside), or Registration & Financial Services @ CUMC in 1-141 Black Building (Medical Center), during the Change of Program Period each term (see the Academic Calendar for details).

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.

Note: Dropping all of your courses means withdrawing from the University. The University charges a $75 fee for all withdrawals from the University, and this fee is not covered under this Tuition Exemption Benefit Program.

Tax Disclaimer

If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) challenges the University’s interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code with regard to tuition benefits, you may be liable for income tax on the cash value of the benefits, plus any penalty and interest assessed. Please consult your tax advisor for specific IRS tax regulations.

Taxation of Undergraduate Courses (Below 4000)

Officers

As per IRS regulations, the Tuition rate Reduction amount (35% of Tuition costs) for an undergraduate course is not treated as taxable income, unless the student covered by an Officer’s Tuition Exemption Benefit is taking the course as part of a graduate degree program.

Taxation of Graduate Courses (4000 & Above)

Officers

The first $5,250 in a calendar year is exempt from taxation according to IRS regulations. Any additional Tuition rate reduction amount in a calendar year that pays for graduate-level courses is treated as taxable income, with the following exceptions:

  • The benefit is not taxable if the Officer is taking graduate-level courses as part of an undergraduate degree program.
  • The benefit is not taxable if the Officer takes graduate-level courses that are considered “job related,” fulfilling the following two conditions established by the IRS:
  1. The course either maintains or improves skills required in your current position and/or is required by the University, or by law or regulations, to keep your current job or salary; and
  2. The course does not enable you to meet the minimum education requirements for your current job, and does not qualify you for a new trade or business.

Note: Graduate courses taken as part of a doctoral program cannot be job-related. According to IRS regulations, they always qualify the student for a new trade or business.

In the event an Officer takes a graduate course that meets the above conditions for tax exemption, the Officer must fill out and submit a Job-Related Graduate Course Certification (degree) or Job-Related Graduate Certification (non-degree) (PDF) in order to avoid tax withholding. The completed form, signed in ink by the Officer’s supervisor and submitted to the Student Service Center in 205 Kent Hall (Morningside) or Registration & Financial Services @ CUMC in 1-141 Black Building (Medical Center), ensures that no taxes related to the tuition benefit will be withheld from the Officer’s paycheck. This form should be attached to and submitted with the Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form.

 

Income Tax Withholding for Officers

The cash equivalent of any taxable Tuition Employee reduction amount (as explained above) will be included in the Officer’s income statement, on the pay stub under “Taxable Tuition.” This will affect the amount of federal, state, local and FICA taxes deducted from the Officer’s pay.

The taxation of the Tuition Employee reduction amount is determined on an annualized basis. The amount of taxable tuition is added to the Officer’s base salary. The resulting total is taxed according to the annualized table, which is based on the Officer’s income level. The University will withhold taxes based on the federal; state and New York City (if you reside in NYC) flat tax rates. The full value of the Tuition Exemption Benefit will also be subject to FICA and Medicare payroll taxes. For information about tax rates, please visit the Columbia Payroll website at: http://finance.columbia.edu/controller/payroll/index.htm

The University will spread the tax liability for tuition benefits over as many pay periods as possible:

  • Fall Term: Taxes Withheld October through December
  • Spring Term: Taxes withheld January through May
  • Summer Term: Taxes withheld June through September

If the Tuition Benefit Eligibility Form and Job-Related Graduate Course Certification are not submitted by the end of the Change of Program period each term, the University will withhold taxes. Officers who can prove the courses are job-related may be eligible to deduct the income from their reported taxable income on their Form 1040 filing. Taxable Tuition is reflected on Form 1098T issued by Columbia University.

Questions about the amount of taxable tuition reported to the Payroll Office should be directed to the Tuition Exemption area of central Student Financial Services at (212) 854-6548 or tuitionexemptionstudents@columbia.edu.