Archive for FAFSA

It’s FAFSA Time!

Admitting the best applicants and getting them here is always on our mind.

Students admitted to SIPA are considered for scholarships (presuming you had submitted your application by the fellowship deadline), but if you need additional assistance from student loans or Work Study, you will need to complete the 2014/15 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA.  To do so, go to www.fafsa.gov.   The information collected on the FAFSA will be used by the SIPA Financial Aid Office to determine your eligibility for student loans available from the federal government and possible work study jobs.

If you completed the FAFSA as an undergraduate, you’ll be familiar with the process, although as a graduate student, no parental information is necessary.   If you have a PIN number that you used as an undergraduate, use the same one.  If you have never completed a FAFSA before, you will need a PIN in order to complete the FAFSA; you must go to www.pin.ed.gov, which is linked from www.fafsa.gov.

When you complete the FAFSA, designate Columbia University as the recipient with our school code number, 002707, in Step 6 of the FAFSA.

Do not wait until you have received an admission decision to complete your FAFSA.  While there is no absolute deadline approaching, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible; we recommend that you do so by about March 1 for a timely review.  Also be aware that this is an annual form, and you will need to complete the 2015/16 FAFSA for your second year should you wish to borrow or be considered for a work study position.  If you are only interested in SIPA scholarships and do not wish to borrow loans, you need not complete the FAFSA.  You can, however, submit a FAFSA later if you decide that you do want to explore student loan or Work Study options.

The FAFSA is a lengthy form that collects a lot of information.  If you are completing the FAFSA for the first time, it can be confusing.  If you have any questions or need any assistance, contact us at 212-854-6216 or email us at sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.

 

Note: Do not complete a FAFSA if you are an international student.  It is used to determine eligibility for aid available only to US citizens and permanent residents.

 

Applying for Financial Aid – It’s FAFSA Time!

Applying for financial aid doesn’t involve too many steps.

Some of you may want to consider financing part of your costs through student loans or work study.  If so, you will need to complete the 2013/14 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA.  To do so, go to www.fafsa.gov.   The information collected on the FAFSA will be used by the SIPA Financial Aid Office to determine your eligibility for student loans available from the federal government and possible work study jobs.

If you completed the FAFSA as an undergraduate, you’ll be familiar with the process, although as a graduate student, no parental information is necessary.   If you have a PIN number that you used as an undergraduate, use the same one.  If have never completed a FAFSA before, you will need a PIN in order to complete the FAFSA; you must go to www.pin.ed.gov, which is linked from www.fafsa.gov.

When you complete the FAFSA, designate Columbia University as the recipient with our school code number, 002707, in Step 6 of the FAFSA.

Do not wait until you have received an admission decision to complete your FAFSA.  While there is no absolute deadline approaching, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible; we recommend that you do so by March 1 for a timely review.  Also be aware that this is an annual form, and you will need to complete the 2014/15 FAFSA for your second year should you wish to borrow or be considered for a work study position.  If you are only interested in SIPA scholarships or assistantships and do not wish to borrow loans, you do not need to complete the FAFSA.

The FAFSA is a lengthy form that collects a lot of information.  If you are completing the FAFSA for the first time, it can be confusing.  If you have any questions or need any assistance, contact us at 212-854-6216 or email us at sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.

 

Note: Do not complete a FAFSA if you are an international student; it is only used to determine eligibility for student loans and Work Study available to US citizens, permanent residents and political refugees.

 

Financing your education at SIPA – Part 5

Student Loan Repayment

While SIPA does make funding available through various scholarships and assistantships, approximately 40 percent of our students also use student loans as part of their financing strategy.  If you borrowed student loans as an undergraduate, you may already be familiar with the obligation of repaying your loans.  Just like a mortgage, a car loan or any other type of debt, repaying your student loans can be stressful.  But be aware that there are a number of options available that can help you manage student loans, and even save you money.

Before you make any decisions about borrowing while attending SIPA, we’d like to familiarize you with some of the resources and information that can help you be an informed borrower.

First, plan carefully and borrow only what you need.  There are loan programs from government and private sources that can cover all of your costs…tuition, fees, books and supplies, room and board, travel expenses…but over a two year period that can add up to lots of debt.  Make sure that you apply for not only all of the funding that SIPA offers, but external sources as well, and also review financial resources you have on hand.  Using some savings now might save you interest-bearing debt later.

The types of loans most SIPA students qualify for include the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan (Congress eliminated the interest subsidy on Direct Loans for graduate students when they passed the Budget Control Act of 2011), the Federal Graduate PLUS loan, the Federal Perkins Loan and various loans from private lenders.  A good source of information for the federal loans is http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/loans, while a sampling of some private loans can be found here.

Be aware of when your repayment begins…it’s not the same for all loans.  Click here for information on when loans from the federal government (those are the majority of loans borrowed by SIPA students) go into repayment.  And once you have borrowed federal loans (or if you already have), log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at www.nslds.ed.gov to find out who will be servicing your loan (which is where your payments will be sent).  To log in to NSLDS, you will need your Social Security number and your FAFSA PIN.

In our next student loan repayment entry, we’ll discuss how to find out what your monthly payment will be, along with the different repayment plan options.

 

Funding your education at SIPA – part 4

Student Loans

About 40% of SIPA students use student loans as part of their financing strategy, and there are a number of options available to them.  Most borrow fixed rate loans from the federal government, which offer flexible repayment options.  Most federal loans are not credit-based, but have annual limits to the amount that can be borrowed; the Graduate PLUS loan is the exception to both of these rules.  But other credit-based loans are available from private lenders, some of which may be available to international students so long as they have a US citizen who can co-sign the loan for them.

For students who are US citizens, permanent resident aliens, or political refugees, the federal government makes a number of loan programs available that students can use, if necessary, to fund the full cost of their education, including living expenses.  In order to be considered for any loan from the federal government, a student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.  There are three different federal loan programs available to graduate students.  They are:

  •  The Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan (a/k/a Stafford Loan); currently at 6.8% interest, which accumulates during enrollment (hence “unsubsidized”, Congress eliminated the interest subsidy to graduate students starting 7/1/12).  While you are enrolled, you will have the option of paying your interest (less expensive long-term option) or capitalizing the interest (adding it to the principal).  Unsubsidized Direct Loans are available for up to $20,500 per academic year.  Visit www.studentloans.gov for more information.

 

  •  The Federal Graduate PLUS Loan; currently at 7.9% interest, and like the Unsubsidized Direct Loans, interest will be accumulating during your enrollment.  The Graduate PLUS Loan can cover the full difference between your total cost of attendance (which includes tuition, fees, books) minus other aid or loans received, but unlike other student loans available from the federal government, the Graduate PLUS loan is credit based.  For more information, visit studentloans.gov or click here.

 

  •  The Federal Perkins Loan; offered at 5% interest, which is fully deferred while you are enrolled.  Perkins Loans are only available to a limited number of students, based on financial need.  Annual loan amounts typically range between $2,000 and $6,000; for more information, click here.

There are also loans available from private lenders.  Private loans do not require completion of the FAFSA, and some are available to international students who have a US citizen who can co-sign the loan form them (click here for some loans available to international students).  Most private loans do not have strict annual limits and can be borrowed for the full cost of attendance minus other aid.  At this time, interest rates tend to be lower than those of federal loans, but federal loan interest rates are fixed, and private loans (which are much less regulated) are variable.  Private loans also tend to offer borrowers less flexibility and fewer features during repayment than federal loans.  All students are free to select their own loan products and lenders, but due to repayment flexibility and the certainty of fixed interest rates, most SIPA students have opted to use federal loans.

In a future blog post, we will discuss student loan repayment; there are many repayment options available for federal loans that can make your student loans manageable, even one that could forgive some of your indebtedness.

 

Funding your education at SIPA – part 3

Applying for Financial Aid – Spring 2013 Applicants

Applying for financial aid doesn’t involve too many steps.  If you are applying for Spring 2013 admission, you will need to complete the 2012/13 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA.  To do so, go to www.fafsa.gov.  This universal aid application is used at just about every college in the United States and even some in other countries where American students can receive aid.  The information collected on the FAFSA will be used by the SIPA Financial Aid Office to determine your eligibility for student loans available from the federal government and possible work study jobs.

When you complete the FAFSA, you designate the recipient school by using a 6-digit code number specific to the school.  Columbia’s school code is 002707.

If you completed the FAFSA as an undergraduate, you’ll be familiar with the process, although as a graduate student, no parental information is necessary.  All graduate students are automatically considered to be financially independent.  If you have a PIN number that you used as an undergraduate, use the same one.  If have never completed a FAFSA before, you will need a PIN in order to complete the FAFSA; you must go to www.pin.ed.gov, which is linked from www.fafsa.gov.

Do not wait until you have received an admission decision to complete your FAFSA.  While there is no absolute deadline approaching, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible; we recommend that you do so by November 1 for a timely review.  Also be aware that this is an annual form, and you will need to complete the 2013/14 FAFSA for the following fall and spring semesters; you should do that after completing your 2012 federal income tax return next April.

And please…especially if you are completing the FAFSA for the first time, it can be confusing.  If you have any questions or need any assistance, contact us at 212-854-6216 or email us at sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.

 

Note: Don’t complete a FAFSA if you are an international student; it is only used to determine eligibility for student loans and Work Study available to US citizens, permanent residents and political refugees.

If you are applying for Fall 2013 admission, complete the FAFSA for the 2013/14 academic year after January 1; we recommend that you do so by March 1.  We will post a reminder for Fall 2013 applicants as the time to complete your FAFSA approaches.

"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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