Financial Aid Student Support Initiative

The School of General Studies (GS) was founded in 1947 based on the idea that talented students should have access to a world-class education regardless of when they decide to attend college. Through this unique mission, the undergraduate classroom at Columbia became unlike any other in the Ivy League, and GS itself advanced to the forefront of innovation, responding to societal change and pioneering educational modalities that have continually influenced higher education nationally and around the world.

As it was 75 years ago, the world today is in need of continued excellence and innovation in the face of contemporary challenges. Under President Lee C. Bollinger’s leadership, and for the first time in the history of Columbia, the University has launched a fundraising initiative singularly focused on improving financial aid for all students. As the only undergraduate college for nontraditional students in the Ivy League, GS is in a unique position to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity and renew its commitment to attracting, educating, and supporting the best and brightest nontraditional students. Our goal is to raise $60 million—almost doubling our current endowment—over the next four years.

Top Priorities

These additional funds will enable GS to address many of the challenges that our community faces including the increasing competition from peer institutions to attract nontraditional students and the financial barriers and significant loan debt many of our students incur—while helping the School further expand and create new innovating programming in response to societal change.

The Power of the Match
Larry J. Lawrence Match Fund

Larry Lawrence '69GS, '71BUS has given the Student Support Initiative an incredible start with his deep generosity, agreeing to lead our efforts as alumni chair, continuing a legacy of support for GS that goes back 35 years. With his partnership, and with the unwavering commitment of our alumni and friends, this initiative will open doors and transform lives for GS students. Through the Larry J. Lawrence Match Fund, Larry has made a commitment of $5M to match scholarship gifts to the School. Endowed gifts between $250,000 and $500,000 paid over four years qualify to be matched dollar-for-dollar by Larry’s gift—with the power of the match turning $5M into $10M to reach $60 million.

Graphic: 390 first-generation college students receive institutional aid
Graphic: 145 endowed awards
Graphic: 21 PALS scholars
View of College Walk and Butler Library from Low Steps
Ensuring Columbia GS’s Place as the Preeminent College for Nontraditional Students

$30 million in new funds will allow Columbia GS to create endowed and current-use scholarships that serve to support the full array of exceptional nontraditional students who seek out GS as the launching pad for their future endeavors. This commitment will ensure our ability to continue providing the preeminent nontraditional undergraduate educational experience, and in turn, will extend and enhance our position nationally and around the world. 

To learn more about the specialized support GS provides to our nontraditional students, please reach out to Jill Galas Hickey, Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations, at [email protected].

Expanding Educational Access and Equity

$20 million in new endowment and current-use funds will be used to expand educational access and opportunities that Columbia GS provides to its unique student body—many of whom seek out GS after experiencing difficult circumstances that may have prevented them from excelling academically in the past.

To learn more about how we're working to expand equity and access to higher education, please reach out to Jill Galas Hickey, Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations, at [email protected].

Columbia GS graduates hold up inflatable owls at the 2022 University Commencement ceremony
Photo taken of graduates at Commencement from behind the Alma Mater statue
Innovation and Societal Transformation

With $10 million in initial funding, Columbia GS can continue its tradition of innovation by building new programs and creating new educational pathways designed for nontraditional students. GS has always met this challenge and responded with innovative programs that expand opportunity, create access, and push the boundaries of how society thinks about elite education.

To learn more about our leadership in developing successful, innovative programing that transforms higher education, please reach out to Jill Galas Hickey, Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations, at [email protected].


1,257 Students Receive Institutional Aid
232 Named Scholarship Recipients
$31,480,465 Total Institutional Aid Awarded
28% Five-Year Growth in Aid Awarded

Your Impact

Contributions to the GS endowment can have an immediate impact on the lives and success of GS students. Learn more about our giving opportunities below.

New students receiving institutional aid, continuing students receiving institutional aid