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Work Exemption Program (WEP)



*** The Work Exemption Program (WEP) is currently accepting applications for summer 2017. The application deadline is April 12, 2017. APPLY HERE. ***

The Work Exemption Program (WEP) is part of Columbia University's enhanced financial aid program announced in spring 2009 for undergraduate students in Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The program is designed to enable financial aid recipients to take advantage of unpaid experiential learning opportunities.  Selection for WEP is competitive. Accepted program participants receive a Columbia Grant to support their pursuit of unpaid internships, research projects, and community outreach, locally, nationally, and internationally.

We are pleased to make opportunities available that enable students of all socioeconomic backgrounds to extend their co-curricular educational experience. We are also grateful to the many alumni and friends whose continued generosity makes this initiative possible and who contribute immeasurably to the enrichment of the undergraduate experience in Columbia College and Columbia Engineering.

Through WEP, Columbia Grant eligible students have the option of applying for an exemption from their summer work expectation (Student Contribution) or their in-school work expectation (Student Employment or Federal Work Study). WEP grants are applied towards the Fall and/or Spring Student Account balance.

Institutional funding through this program is made available with the sole intention of supporting students’ living expenses (such as housing, food and travel expenses).  This support enables students to participate in unpaid opportunities.  Funding is not provided in lieu of compensation for work and supervisors are required to acknowledge in the Employer Verification Form that participating organizations are compliant with the US Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other applicable state and local legislation.

Please note: WEP has become increasingly competitive. Limited funding is available for this program. Many students who submit strong, compelling applications will not be able to receive funding due to the highly competitive nature of the program and the limited funding available. It is in your best interest to consider alternative options and make back-up plans in the event that you do not receive assistance through WEP.

The application process for the Work Exemption Program is jointly managed by the Center for Career Education and the Office of Financial Aid and Educational Financing.

Summer 2017 WEP Application Timeline

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Application deadline. Applicants must submit their WEP application and all supporting documents. Incomplete and late applications will not be considered. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Applicants will be notified of their application status for the program (accepted or declined). 

Important Information for Students Planning Overseas Opportunities

In accordance with the new Undergraduate International Travel Policy all students traveling overseas through a Columbia led, Columbia facilitated and/or recognized program must submit a school sponsorship application 4-weeks prior to departure.**

Once you have received confirmation of your school sponsorship, log in to the Undergraduate Travel Web App to complete:

  • Online Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Sign the Assumption of Risk, Waiver, and Release form

Additionally, all students must:

  • Register your travel (including side trips) through International SOS
  • Confirm that, while abroad, you will be covered by a health insurance policy that also provides coverage outside the United States for routine, urgent and emergency care.

It is critical that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with the Undergraduate International Travel Policy and complete all steps outlined above. For related questions, contact

*Graduate students participating in a Columbia led, Columbia facilitated and/or recognized program such as CUGO and STEP are also required to complete a school sponsorship application. This policy does not replace any additional requirements from a student’s home school. Graduate students, including Columbia Engineering graduate students, are encouraged to check in with their home school prior to finalizing any travel arrangements.

** Students applying to CCE funding programs with overseas opportunities MUST apply for school sponsorship by April 12th (the funding program application deadline). Submitting a school sponsorship application does not guarantee CCE funding. Similarly receiving CCE funding does not guarantee approval of your school sponsorship application. Please note that school sponsorship applications related to CCE funding programs will not be approved unless the student receives a CCE funding award. Students who submit a school sponsorship application and do not receive a CCE funding award must withdraw their school sponsorship application unless they are also part of the CEO, STEP, or CU GO programs. In those cases, sponsorship applications should not be withdrawn.


How to Apply 


There are countless unpaid internship, research and volunteer opportunities in the New York City Area and many different resources for finding an experiential learning opportunity that is the best fit for your individual academic, personal, and professional goals.  Here are a few suggestions for beginning your search.

  • To learn more about finding an internship please visit the Internships section of the Center for Career Education website. 
  • Both the Office of Civic Action and Engagement and the Community Impact office at Columbia are excellent places to begin exploring opportunities to contribute to your community.
  • Did you know that Columbia has 214 research centers and institutes?  Students also frequently find research opportunities through their academic department or through professors they have worked with.

If you have any further questions not addressed here, please email