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Financial Aid FAQs: Common questions about paying for SIPA

We often tell students that as much as you plan for graduate school, you should also be planning for the tuition and payments side of it. But we understand it’s a process, and we’re here to walk you through the process.

Our financial aid officers have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help with concerns about student loans, work study, billing, and payment.

Student Loans

I was only awarded the Direct Unsubsidized Loan for $20,500 but I need more funding. What are my options?

When you submit the FAFSA, we can package you with the Direct Unsubsidized Loan because it does not require a credit check or additional application. For graduate students, the annual cap for the Unsubsidized Loan is $20,500; however, you can also apply for a Graduate PLUS loan. If you have already received your award notification, please see the Documents & Messages page of NetPartner. Beneath the section labeled “Unmet Financial Need,” you will find the application and you will see your remaining amount of need which is the maximum you can borrow in a Graduate PLUS or similar private loan.

When do I need to apply for loans/complete entrance counseling/sign the promissory notes?

We recommend you have your aid in place no later than early August. Please log in to NetPartner and be sure to accept your awards on the Accept Awards tab and review the Documents & Messages page for any outstanding materials.

When and how will the loan be disbursed?

Loans are divided evenly between the terms you are enrolled and disbursed to your Columbia student account at the beginning of each semester.

If I borrowed loans to cover living expenses, how and when will that money be refunded to me?

We strongly encourage you to set up direct deposit (click here for instructions). Any amount you borrowed in excess of the tuition and fees for the semester will be issued as a refund to you by the second week of classes after the loan has disbursed to your student bill and after you have registered for classes (assuming you have also completed all the necessary steps on NetPartner).

Can international students borrow student loans?

There are private lenders who make loans available to international students, but most require a US citizen to co-sign. Find a list of suggested lenders here.

Work Study

Do I have to accept Federal Work Study? How does it work? Will it be paid towards the bill? How do I find a job? Should I wait until I know my class schedule to look for a job?

If you were eligible for work study, it was included in your financial aid notification. You are not required to accept it. You will need to find an eligible position and then the money will be paid out to you like a regular salary subject to taxes (it is not applied to your bill). We recommend you start searching for positions and then you can work out the specific schedule after you are hired. More info, including how to search for positions, is here.

Billing & Payment

The SIPA Financial Aid Office does not charge tuition or collect payment. The office responsible for these procedures is the Student Financial Services Office. Find more information here; SFS can be reached at 212-854-4400.

When will I receive my first bill?

The fall statement will be issued August 13th and due September 14th. The full schedule is available here.

What happens with the admission deposit I paid?

It will be applied towards the charges for the first semester you are enrolled and you will see the credit on Student Services Online (SSOL) when you review your student account.

Is there a payment plan?

Yes. Information on the monthly payment plan is available here.

Can I wire money from a foreign bank to pay my bill?

Yes. Please click here for more information.

Can I waive the health insurance and health services fee?

Domestic full-time students can waive coverage if they have alternate coverage that meets the criteria; see here. The waiver for the fall term is due September 30th. Students cannot waive the Health Services Fee.

If I’m living in Columbia housing, will my rent be on the bill?

Most students in University housing will see their room charges on their bills.

My employer/sponsor is going to pay my bill and needs to receive an invoice from Columbia. What do I do?  

You will need to set up third-party billing. Please also email our office with a copy of your sponsorship letter.

I’m receiving an external scholarship. Do I notify you? Where can they send the payment?

Please email our office the details. They can mail the check to:
Attn: Payments & Deposits Office
Student Financial Services
205 Kent Hall
1140 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Other Helpful Resources at Columbia University:

International Students & Scholars Office

Office of Military and Veterans Affairs

Admitted Student Summer Email Series

This week the Office of Student Affairs at SIPA started to send a series of emails to admitted students who have paid an enrollment deposit for fall 2009.  The emails contain important information pertaining to enrollment and preparation for classes in the fall.

I just wanted to make an annoucement because the emails will be coming from a different address than the Admissions Office at SIPA.  If you have yet to receive an email please check your spam or junk mail folders and ensure that your settings allow for messages from sipa_osa@columbia.edu.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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