Archive for FAFSA

Four things you should know about the FAFSA

As graduate school deadlines continue to pass and come up, don’t forget to continue planning on how to finance your degree. For applicants applying to the upcoming fall term, who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, don’t forget to complete the 2020-21 FAFSA.

  1. Submitting the FAFSA is free. You do not have to pay to complete the FAFSA, and any website or service offering to do it for you is a scam. You can also complete the FAFSA using the MyStudentAid App.
  2. If you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and applying for a SIPA Scholarship, submit the FAFSA by the stated deadline on your admissions application. 
  3. To ensure we receive your information, designate Columbia University: School of International and Public Affairs as the recipient by using our school code number: 002707.
  4. You should not put your parents’ information when completing this FAFSA. In graduate school students are considered independent when filing the FAFSA application. The information you submit should be your own.

For Columbia SIPA, the FAFSA is required to determine eligibility for fellowships and federal aid. For graduate students, federal aid options come in the form of an Unsubsidized Loan, Federal Work Study, and Graduate PLUS Loan. You are not required to accept any federal loans offered.

We encourage students to create a financing plan that covers the duration of the program, and to reach out to our Financial Aid team if you want guidance.

Completing your FAFSA and Budgeting

Thanks to Cecilia Granda, Associate Director of Financial Aid, for this guest post. 

The idea of budgeting makes everyone cringe. Picture days of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches followed by nights of staying at home staring at a spreadsheet wondering where all your money has gone. But take it from a lifelong New Yorker who has lived in the Upper West Side, Gramercy, Inwood, and the Bronx — by creating budgeting plans, I have been able to continue to call New York my home, raise a family, create an emergency fund, and enjoy the occasional Sunday brunch.

The FAFSA and federal student aid

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident applying to SIPA and would like to be considered for a scholarship, you must submit your FAFSA with your SIPA application. The FAFSA for 2020-21 is available as of October 1st, so you can complete it before you submit the SIPA application. The SIPA school code is 002707. Be sure to input your 2018 income information; do not include your parent’s information.

Once this is done, you will have at least put yourself in the running for any potential SIPA scholarship funding.  But don’t stop there.  Start researching external funding sources to determine if you are eligible.  Keep track of application deadlines and requirements so that you don’t miss opportunities.

Photo: FAFSA Facebook page

Budgeting

For me, budgeting is all about planning ahead, self-awareness, and adjusting habits in order to save small amounts of money that can add up fast to help me reach my goal. When budgeting, I like to prioritize needs versus wants. Everyone’s priorities are going to be different. For graduate students the top three needs are clear: food, shelter, and education.

The first step is an inventory check. How much money do you have? How much do you spend in one week or one month? Keep all your receipts and calculate how much you spent. Categorize your expenses between essential and discretionary; then priorities your expenses. If you are considering a graduate program, you can start early in transitioning your lifestyle from “working” to “grad student.”

Next, set your goals. Once you’ve determined how much you have and how much you are currently spending, decide how much you need to save. Become familiar with the tuition and fees associated with each program you’re considering. Consider how you will manage these costs and how much you need to save now in order to achieve your educational goals. You can start small by calculating how much you need to save on a weekly basis. It might be $50 a week, which becomes $200 a month, and turns into $2,400 a year. Once you find the right number, see if you can find ways to increase your weekly savings. One easy way to save, and a habit that you can bring to the big city, is shopping generic brands. Non-perishables like tissues, toilet paper, medicine, paper towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, cleaning products, detergents, shampoo, and soap are all great options. This small change in purchasing can save you hundreds of dollars.

Now you want to be sure your able to track and not touch your savings. Be honest with yourself. This is where self-awareness comes in handy. Can you set aside $50 each week? Do you need a budgeting app like Mint or Digit that will help you manage your money, track your spending, and force you to save? You might decide to give yourself an allowance for the week, only spend the amount in your wallet, and not use a credit card. Find a method that you can stick to and hold yourself accountable.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. You most likely have friends who have similar financial goals. Make a pact! Agree to only go out to dinner once a week. This will help you transition to graduate school life. Many Seeples are very responsible about their finances. Some share a Costco membership so they can buy food in bulk and split the quantities (there’s a Costco in East Harlem). Others put together meal prep plans, share recipes, and organize pot lucks. One great thing about Seeples is they come from all over the world and have wonderful cuisine to share!

I hope this information is helpful and don’t fret if you aren’t able to do it all. Even the smallest change in habit or savings will help you prepare for your next step.

*Disclaimer: The applications identified in this article are based on personal recommendations, and SIPA is not receiving any form of compensation for mentioning them in this blog post.

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.

 

"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

Boiler Image