Vagelos Scholarship Program

In 2017, the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons announced the launch of a sweeping scholarship program that made it the first medical school in the nation to meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need with scholarships for all students who qualify as part of their need-based financial aid package.

The scholarship fund is supported by an endowment that was established by Dr. P. Roy and Diana Vagelos. The couple has committed more than $300 million to Columbia, $150 million of which was directed toward the scholarship fund endowment. With this funding from Dr. and Mrs. Vagelos, as well as additional support from other generous alumni, faculty, and friends, the medical school launched the scholarship program for new and continuing eligible MD students, beginning in the 2018-19 year.

“Having a scholarship fund of this magnitude puts our medical school within reach of the most talented students, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Lee Goldman, MD, the Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and Chief Executive of Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “In addition, this scholarship program will allow our students to choose a medical specialty based on their true passion and highest calling, rather than on income potential. The extraordinary generosity of Roy and Diana Vagelos in establishing this endowment will change the future for generations of students in our medical school.”

Medical students who submit complete financial aid applications will automatically be considered for a Vagelos Scholarship Program award.

Financial Aid and the Vagelos Scholarship Program

Following are frequently asked questions about how the Office of Student Financial Aid and Planning determines need-based scholarships. For more information, contact

How are financial aid need-based scholarships determined?

The basic formula is: Cost of Attendance Budget - Resources = Need.

Cost of Attendance Budget = total costs for one year including tuition, fees, approved study materials, room/board, and other expenses.

Resources = funds available from the student, spouse, and a calculated parent contribution.

Need = difference between the total budget and total available resources. Once a student’s calculated need is determined, scholarship funds will be offered to meet this need. Under the Vagelos Scholarship Program, the package of support made available to meet need will not include any loans.

How are “resources” determined?

Family resources are assessed based on the financial information provided by the family on the required FAFSA and CSS Profile applications (from the College Board). A family’s total income (taxable and untaxed), as well as all assets (cash, investments, real estate, business value, etc.), are considered in the calculation.

Retirement funds—those funds held in specific retirement accounts, such as 401K plans—and the value of the family’s primary residence are NOT included in assets.

The contribution from these sources is calculated using a formula developed by CSS Profile that takes into account income, assets, number of family members, number of children in college or graduate school programs, state and city of residence, and other factors.

Is there a threshold below which no parent contribution is assessed?

Beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year, all families (of both new and continuing students) whose total annual income falls below $125,000 a year will be assessed a zero contribution from income; there may still be a parental contribution assessed on the family’s assets.