Some SIPA students find that they need additional resources beyond the $20,500 annual limit of an Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan and other aid they have received. The loan most SIPA students turn to is the Federal Graduate PLUS Loan. This loan (which is credit-based) can be borrowed up to the full cost of attendance, including living expenses, minus any other loans and aid; please note that like all aid from the US federal government, it is only available to US citizens and permanent residents.
To start an application: Log in to the Net Partner portal at https://studentviewer.finaid.columbia.edu and go to the Messages tab. There you will see a section labeled “Unmet Financial Need” that includes instructions for the Grad PLUS loan. Follow the link to the Graduate PLUS Loan Request and Credit Authorization form. That will bring you to a Google document that will just take a few minutes to complete and submit. You will receive an approval response in a few days directly from the US Department of Education.
After receiving the approval, log in to www.studentloans.gov to complete the PLUS Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling.
Some private lenders offer similar loans. While their interest rates may be lower, they also don’t include as many repayment benefits or flexibility, including not qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. But if you’re only borrowing a small amount, some private loans may fit your needs; click here for some suggestions.