Named Scholarship

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The Named Scholarships are some of Columbia's most obscure and dubious distinctions, arising from the need to pacify the donors to that portion of the endowment made available for undergraduate financial aid. They provide a way for the school to match donated money with the financial aid grants of individual students. The Named Scholarships are separate from the Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program; however, the Kluge Scholars are also considered recipients of a named scholarship.

List of Scholarships

The complete list of scholarships is available here.


Every September, students receiving financial aid from Columbia are asked to fill out a generic application for a named scholarship. In previous years, there have been multiple emails from both UDAR and the Financial Aid Office sent to virtually every recipient of grant-based aid. Believe it or not, there is also an acronym for this, like everything else at Columbia: Columbia University Grants (CUGs). These requests for application have been marked by urgent email headers, multiple deadline extensions, and general skepticism about the value of the award. Students who have received the awards in one year are not always asked to reapply the following year, and the designation of a particular Named Scholarship does not necessarily carry over from year to year.

The administrators then match students to donated funds that have been earmarked for specific purposes. Though most awards are restricted to more common situations such as being the first in one's family to attend college or growing up in a specific geographic region, some are quite obscure. Other scholarships appear to be unrestricted; they are simply the result of a financial aid endowment. In 2000, this required a donation of $50,000.[1]


Unlike a traditional scholarship, the Named Scholarships do not provide financial assistance to their recipients. Rather, they are ex post facto names assigned to money that has already been provided as part of a financial aid package. The recipients of Named Scholarships are invited to a nice reception held in Roone Arledge Auditorium, which is sometimes attended by scholarship donors. Recipients of these scholarships have awkward conversations with their benefactors, while everyone else sits around wondering what Named Scholarships are. In the future, they will read this article first.

A recent email inviting students to apply stated:

Named Scholarships are prestigious awards, which attach the name of a sponsor to your Columbia Grant. A named scholarship does not add money to your financial aid package. It is an honorary award that confers upon its recipients recognition of his or her accomplishments and can be listed on applications for fellowships, graduate programs, employment, etc.
Students who are awarded Named Scholarships will be listed in the College Directory of Scholarships and invited to the Dean's Scholarship Reception (November 1st). You will be notified in mid-October if you are selected for Named Scholar recognition.[2]

Note that Named Scholarships, with some exceptions, are rarely actually noted on applications for fellowships, graduate programs, employment, etc.


  1. College Scholarship Recipients Meet Donors at Dean’s Reception, Columbia University Record, October 30, 2000
  2. Mass email from Leslie Cummings, UDAR, September 2006