Archive for finance

Program Assistant Introduction: Steven Reid MIA ’20

Steven Reid was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He is a second-year Master of International Affairs student concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy and specializing in Data Analytics and Quantitative Analysis. After graduating from Villanova University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies, he worked in government and higher education budgeting and finance in Boston, Massachusetts.

What has been the most challenging part of your SIPA experience?
The constant flow of activity and the time management. There is always something going around campus/assignments due/a speaker you want to see. It took some practice in the beginning of first semester before I got the hang of getting my work done, enjoying all there is to offer on campus and being social with my SIPA classmates. Another challenging aspect of SIPA has been understanding the need to say “no” sometimes. It is stressful and demanding to attend all the events you want to go to, do your assignments and be social, so sometimes its important to say no to certain things. Prioritize and take time for yourself.

What has been the best part of your SIPA experience?
Definitely the people. The demanding nature of SIPA brings people together very quickly. There is a lot of group work in SIPA so the connections you make are very important. I have met some of the coolest people in my life here, and I have gotten very close to them in only a year. The community here is a huge mental resource for me when I feel overwhelmed.

What surprised you most about SIPA after you arrived?
The speed of graduate school. Everything happens much faster than undergraduate. I had been out of school for 5 years before I came to SIPA, so the learning curve for graduate school was steep. Assignments are handed out quickly after class begins and the semester becomes a whirlwind of papers, memos, problem sets and other assignments. The months fly by. At the end of the semester, I was surprised at how much work I had done in three months.

How did you find the core curriculum at SIPA?
It’s intense. It is a lot of quant-heavy coursework. For the person who has not dealt with a lot of quant and economics courses before, it can be daunting. But the professors and TAs provide a lot of support.  I knew that quant and econ were going to take up a lot of my time the first semester, so I focused most on those two classes. I was lucky that my prior experience to SIPA dealt with a lot of math and econ, so I was already kind of comfortable with those topics.

What advice do you have for current applicants?
Don’t worry about trying to be the perfect student profile for SIPA. SIPA is very interested in individuals who have unique stories and histories. Just tell your story. Spend a lot of time on your application as well. SIPA wants to get to know who you are, so the more time you put into your application, the more detail you can give and the better picture SIPA has of you.

What was the most challenging aspect of the application process?
The GRE. I didn’t have the best GRE scores so I thought that I definitely was not getting accepted into SIPA, but lo and behold, I did. Test scores are just one part of the application, so do not worry too much if you didn’t do the best on them.

Did you have a lot of quantitative experience when you applied to SIPA? How did you perform in those classes?
I had taken economics courses during undergrad  so I had some understanding of what we were going to be studying. I had some level of comfort with quantitative subject matter having had worked in the budgeting and finance fields. Even with my experience, the classes were still tough. But I studied hard, asked for help from my professors and TAs and did fine in the quantitative courses.

what I did this summer

Internship in Country Risk Management at J.P. Morgan

Prior to attending SIPA my experience was in banking; however the reason I chose SIPA for my graduate studies was to transition into a role that offers more of a macro and international picture, allowing me to work in a field where macroeconomics, capital markets, and risk meet and of course a role where I am challenged every day and get to learn and apply my skills. I had the chance to work in Country Risk Management (CRM) at J.P. Morgan during the summer. It all started with three representatives visiting SIPA to host an information session in the fall of 2013. What followed was an application process, consisting of four phone and four in person interviews.  I consider myself fortunate that I received the opportunity to be a part of the team and the culture at the bank, because this is a dream job for a SIPA student. It was a 10 week internship, starting in June with a couple of weeks of training. The first week I was part of the Sales & Trading (S&T) Markets Training group, where about 100 interns were trained on basics, such as what is equity, what is a bond through how markets are supposed to behave to how financial derivatives fit into the bank. The second week, I took part in a more risk specific training to be prepared for my eight weeks at the desk. Before the training weeks were completed, students were formed into groups of four to prepare a case study to competitively pitch to senior management.

After some valuable training I was excited to finally join my CRM team and to apply my skills learnt and advanced at SIPA. The team in CRM was relatively small on a global basis and therefore I had a chance to work closely with colleagues also based in London and Hong Kong. The eight weeks were packed and I had several deliverables on top of assisting with ad-hoc tasks. However, it was a super learning experience and with the great support of the team I was able to master my objectives successfully. My summer objectives were based around the main work the team does, such as internal ratings of countries and measuring the exposure risk the bank experienced.

The summer program was well structured. Each intern had a junior and senior mentor, who assisted the intern throughout the summer. Throughout the program there were also different social and professional events. Social events consisted of visiting a New York Yankee game and having dinner at different places. The professional events included senior speaker series with management from the bank. These were all very interesting; however I would say the highlight was when Jamie Dimon spoke to us and shared his experiences in banking and at J.P. Morgan.

My summer experience at the bank has been wonderful and it was great to meet so many professionals with whom I look forward to staying in touch and working together in the future. It may be the fall semester only; however the sooner you start looking for your dream internship, the higher the chances that you will be working there during the following summer. Good luck!


by Andreas Maerki, MPA International Finance and Economic Policy Dec ‘14


No one likes to talk about it, but it’s important to get accurate tuition information

SIPA, like most schools at Columbia, has its own Financial Aid Office to assist our students.  However, the office responsible for posting charges on student accounts, billing, collecting payments and issuing refunds, is Student Financial Services (SFS), a centralized office serving the entire University.  SIPA’s Financial Aid Office does not send you your tuition bills, collect payments, or the other procedures mentioned above.

The SFS website can be found at

Some important information related to your bill and your student account:

  • SFS will send an email to your Columbia email address (your UNI) on or about August 11 with a link to a preliminary bill, which must be paid in full by September 12.  You can see the billing schedule at
  • Accounts not paid in full by the due date are subject to late fees, which are assessed monthly.
  • Interest-free monthly payment plans are available (see
  • Financial aid that has been fully processed is credited to your account.  Please respond to all requests for documentation from the Financial Aid Office promptly, as failure to do so will prevent your aid from being credited to your account.
  • The state of New York requires all full-time students to have health insurance.  Your bill will include a charge for health insurance, which can be waived if you have equivalent coverage.  For more information, visit
  • If your aid in any semester exceeds your tuition and fees, you will receive a refund of that credit balance approximately one to two weeks into the semester.  Please plan your non-tuition expenses (rent, food, transportation, etc) accordingly.
  • You can receive refunds payments for which you qualify by direct deposit (recommended, otherwise you’ll receive them by a hard copy check through the mail); go to Student Services Online (SSOL) at to set this up.
  • SFS accepts electronic checks for payment via SSOL, but does not accept credit cards.
  • If your bill is being paid by a sponsor or third party, please see for important instructions.
  • See SFS’s website for mailing addresses if you are paying by mail.
  • Remember that the federal government deducts fees from loan disbursements, 1.073% for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, and 4.292% on the Graduate PLUS loan.

Live Like a College Student, Not Like a Rock Star

Most SIPA students have, since they were last enrolled in college, worked full-time and began establishing careers throughout the world, living on their own, perhaps marrying and starting families…these experiences are part of the perspectives that they bring with them to SIPA.  And it’s normal for lifestyles to change during the period of young adulthood…nicer clothes, a bigger apartment, more restaurants and fewer ramen noodles, maybe finally scrapping that 1991 Honda and buying a new car.

But when people make the decision to be a full-time graduate student, it may mean a brief period of financial adjustments and temporarily resetting priorities.  You are entering a rigorous academic program and are very unlikely to be able to hold down a full-time job or anything close to it.  Financing options are certainly available to help defray costs that you cannot cover out of pocket, but don’t forget that loans have to be repaid later…it’s hardly the same thing as income.

NYC housing prices make it worth the effort to find a roommate or two.  Pare down the wardrobe (you’ll quickly observe that SIPA is a pretty informal place in terms of fashion).  Parking in the city often makes a car more trouble than it’s worth, and no city anywhere has more mass transit options.  New York may be home to countless trendy restaurants that foodies from around the world flock to, but food trucks and bagel shops serve up good food at affordable prices.  Find the cheap eats, they’re all over our neighborhood.  Learn where and when Columbia University student ID cards get you reduced prices (or better yet, free admission) at museums or concerts.

Give yourself a budget and work hard to stick to it.  About 40 percent of SIPA students rely on student loans to meet some of their tuition and/or living expenses, and student loan repayment is flexible and manageable, but debt is debt and shouldn’t be taken on just to maintain lifestyle choices for the 21 months you’ll be a SIPA student.  It’s one thing to choose to live like a college student while you are one…it’s another to have to later.


Money for your studies

If you’re interested in pursuing a degree at SIPA, don’t let financial concerns be an obstacle to your goals.  The majority of SIPA students receive some type of financial assistance, including institutionally-funded Fellowships and Scholarships, student loans, and on-campus Work Study jobs.  Other students are supported by their employers or other third parties…so for many of our students, there are a number of financing options available.


SIPA fellowships provide students with varying combinations of tuition assistance (much like a grant or scholarship), stipends for living expenses, and part-time jobs on campus.  Fellowships are merit-based and competitive, and all you need to do is complete the Fellowship section of the SIPA Application for Admission and you’ll be considered (some programs have additional requirements, which are identified on the application).   If you haven’t completed your application yet, visit the SIPA Admissions page and click on either “Online Application” or “Download Application” to review; essays will be required, so it’s time to write!   If you are awarded a Fellowship, you must enroll for a full-time course load.

Whether you’re a domestic or international student, you can apply for a SIPA Fellowship or Scholarship.  For more information on these awards, click here.

Student Loans

Many long-term financing options are available in the form of loans from the Federal government and various private sources (the Federal loans typically offer better rates and terms).  Most loans are only available to domestic students.  To be considered, domestic students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, at  The information collected on the FAFSA is used by Financial Aid staff to determine your eligibility for various types of loans.  We will notify you about what types of Federal student loans you qualify for and the amount.

There are also privately funded student loans available to use to supplement Federal student loans or in place of Federal loans for students who don’t qualify (including some for international students, with co-borrowers).  Most are credit-based.  For more information on private loans, click here.

Work-Study Employment

If you’re a domestic student, you might also qualify for a part-time position on campus under the Federal Work-Study program.  Click here for more information.


You’ll probably have questions about financing your education along the way.  The Financial Aid Office is available to assist you in any way we can.  Please feel free to contact us at or 212-854-6216.

"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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