Health Insurance and Other Expenses


Columbia University offers the Student Medical Insurance Plan, which provides both Basic and Comprehensive levels of coverage. Full-time students are automatically enrolled in the Basic level of the Plan and billed for the insurance premium in addition to the Health Service fee. Visit the Columbia Health website for detailed information about medical insurance coverage options and directions for making confirmation, enrollment, or waiver requests.


Students should expect to incur miscellaneous personal expenses for such items as food, clothing, linen, laundry, dry cleaning, and so forth.

The University advises students to open a local bank account upon arrival in New York City. Since it often takes as long as three weeks for the first deposit to clear, students should plan to cover immediate expenses using either a credit card, traveler’s checks, or cash draft drawn on a local bank. Students are urged not to arrive in New York without sufficient start-up funds.


Students may need to add another $100 to $300 for drafting materials or laboratory fees in certain courses. Each student taking laboratory courses must furnish, at their own expense, the necessary notebooks, blank forms, and similar supplies. In some laboratory courses, a fee is charged to cover expendable materials and equipment maintenance; the amount of the fee is shown with the descriptions in the course listings. Students engaged in special tests, investigations, theses, or research work are required to meet the costs of expendable materials as may be necessary for this work and in accordance with such arrangements as may be made between the student and the department immediately concerned.


All students will be charged for damage to instruments or apparatus caused by their carelessness. The amount of the charge will be the actual cost of repair, and, if the damage results in total loss of the apparatus, adjustment will be made in the charge for age or condition. To ensure that there may be no question as to the liability for damage, students should note whether the apparatus is in good condition before use and, in case of difficulty, request instruction in its proper operation. Where there is danger of costly damage, an instructor should be requested to inspect the apparatus. Liability for breakage will be decided by the instructor in charge of the course.

When the laboratory work is done by a group, charges for breakage will be divided among the members of the group. The students responsible for any damage will be notified that a charge is being made against them. The amount of the charge will be stated at that time or as soon as it can be determined.