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WEP Application Process


Eligibility |How to Apply |Personal Statement Instructions |Contact Information

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

Eligibility - Please read carefully.

To be eligible for consideration for the Work Exemption Program students must meet the following criteria and must be available to fulfill the additional program requirements listed below.

  1. Enrolled full-time undergraduate student of Columbia College or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (students who are on leave of absence or who have withdrawn from Columbia University are not eligible).
  2. Currently registered student in good academic and disciplinary standing. Please note that the Work Exemption Program no longer requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 in order to apply. However, students should be aware that academic achievement remains one of the criteria upon which applications are evaluated. Additionally, reviewers evaluate the connection between a student's opportunity and goals, the quality of a student's materials, their involvement on campus, the duration of a student's opportunity, the nature of the experience and the level of supervision.  
  3. Columbia grant recipient with a summer work expectation (Student Contribution) or in-school work expectation (Student Employment or Federal Work Study), detailed below:
    • Summer 2017 WEP requirements: Must have a 2016-2017 Columbia Grant
    • Fall 2017 WEP requirements: Must have a 2017-2018 Columbia Grant AND Fall Student Employment or Federal Work Study 
    • Spring 2018 WEP requirement: Must have a 2017-2018 Columbia Grant AND Spring Student Employment or Federal Work Study    
      • Not all financial aid recipients are eligible to apply for WEP funding. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid & Educational Financing at or (212) 854-3711 before applying for WEP to determine your eligibility.
        • Resident Advisers (RA) serving for the 2017-2018 Fall and Spring semesters are ineligible for the WEP program since their student contribution and in-school work expectations will already be replaced by a Resident Adviser Grant.
        • University scholars may be ineligible or have reduced eligibility depending on whether they have a student contribution or in-school work expectation for the 2017-2018 academic year.
        • Students receiving an outside scholarship, tuition benefit or Veterans Benefit may be ineligible or have reduced eligibility depending on whether they have a student contribution and/or in-school work expectation for the 2017-2018 academic year.
  4. Applicants must have secured an unpaid internship, research opportunity or volunteer opportunity prior to the application deadline. Students must be working a minimum of 8 hours/week during the academic year and 15 hours/week during the summer. Please note, the following opportunities are not eligible for WEP:
    • Any opportunity that is a component of an academic program of study or for which course credit is being offered (including research conducted for the sole purpose of a senior thesis project)
    • Any opportunity that is not compliant with the US Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers must sign and acknowledge compliance when completing the employer verification form. 
    • On-campus extra-curricular activities (exceptions include CU EMS and the Double Discovery Center)
    • Any academic or experiential endeavor that requires a student to pay to participate in the program
    • Opportunities that support partisan political activity or that involve proselytizing, preaching or missionary work on behalf of a religious organization
    • An opportunity where you will be supervised by a classmate, peer, family member or friend

A note if you are receiving a stipend, fellowship, additional funding outside of WEP or plan to apply for supplemental funding:

  • If you are receiving any funding to cover your living expenses (food, housing, transportation), you can still apply to WEP and your application will be reviewed. Depending on the amount of your additional funding, your award (if selected for WEP) may be adjusted. Examples include a free metrocard from your employer, a lunch subsidy, or summer housing provided by your internship. 
  • If you are receiving a stipend from your employer for work you are performing or you are receiving wages, you are not eligible for WEP. You must be pursuing an unpaid opportunity to be eligible for a WEP grant. An example would be your employer offers you a stipend of $4,000 for the summer. 

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.

Late or incomplete applications and applicants who do not meet these criteria will not be considered.

Please note, by submitting an application, you authorize the Center for Career Education to conduct academic, disciplinary and financial aid checks to confirm program eligibility and inform funding decisions. Certain University policy violations may disqualify you from consideration for WEP.


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

    Please click on the application link at the top of this page. You will be required to upload the following documents at the time of submission. Please prepare everything before you begin completing the form!

    • One letter of recommendation - Please direct your recommender to upload your letter of recommendation at this link. Your letter of recommendation should be written by someone who can comment on your academic and/or professional pursuits, character and maturity such as a professor, advising dean or supervisor. We advise against asking a teacher/coach from high school to write your recommendation. We will not accept letters of recommendation written by family members, friends, resident hall advisors, student leaders, members of student organizations or classmates. Your letter of recommendation must be on official letterhead, dated and signed. If you are reapplying to receive the WEP grant for an opportunity for a consecutive semester (such as summer continuing into fall; fall continuing into spring; spring continuing into summer) you do not need to submit a new recommendation for the same opportunity. The WEP committee will review the feedback your supervisor provided during the mid-semester check-in.

    Please note: The Work Exemption Program 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.

    Personal Statement Instructions

    Your statement should be limited to three pages, double-spaced. Include the prompts outlined below in your essay to ensure you answer all questions thoroughly.

    Follow these instructions if this is your first time applying for Work Exemption or if you are a returning applicant applying with a new research, volunteer, or internship opportunity.  


    • describe the organization, your role, and responsibilities;
    • describe your duties, projects to be completed and deadlines; and
    • explain why you want to intern at this organization.


    • what do you intend to learn from this experience?
    • what are your goals and how do they align with your academic interests and/or career plans?


    • describe the supervision you will receive.
    • what kind of instruction, assistance and training will you receive and from whom? 
    • explain how and when you will be evaluated.


    • explain why you should be considered for this program; 
    • explain how  your plans will be affected if you do not receive WEP funding; and
    • address your committement to completing a reflection project at the end of the semester.

    Follow these instructions if you are reapplying for Work Exemption for an opportunity that is continuing into the next semester.


    • summarize your internship/research/volunteer opportunity and your current role and responsibilities
    • explain if your duties or projects will change and if you will assume any new responsibility next semester
    • address why you are interested in continuing your work at this particular organization or with this particular faculty advisor


    • what were your original learning objectives and how have they been met?
    • how have these learning objectives changed or developed?
    • what new goals have you set for yourself for your continued work with this organization?
    • how has this experience impacted your overall academic interests and/or career goals?


    • Describe the supervision, instruction and training you have received and from whom you have received it
    • note when and how you have been evaluated and if this supervisory experience will change or remain the same in the upcoming semester.


    • explain why you should be considered for continued support from the Work Exemption Program and describe how your plans will be affected if you do not continue to receive a work exemption to participate in this experience
    • address your commitment to completing a reflection project at the end of the semester.

      For further details about how the personal statement is utilized in the application review process please see the Work Exemption Program Frequently Asked Questions page.

      Contact Information

      Please visit the Work Exemption Program Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about the WEP committee, application process, and selection of program participants.  If you have any further questions not addressed here regarding the WEP application or selection process please email the Work Exemption Program committee at