Archive for Financial Aid

Straus Historical Society and American-Scandinavian Foundation Scholarship Opportunities

Enrolling at SIPA – and living in New York City – represents a serious financial obligation. SIPA has made a firm commitment in recent years to devoting more resources to scholarship and fellowship programs, and fundraising efforts continue so that we can make a SIPA education more affordable.

External resources available as well, from all over the world, and SIPA students annually find millions of dollars in such scholarships each year. Our Office of Financial Aid maintains a searchable database of such scholarships, along with providing links to other free scholarship search sites, and we encourage all applicants to search for these funding opportunities throughout the application process and even once they are enrolled.

We have recently come across two awards that may be of interest to some applicants, but please check our website and keep updated with this very Admissions Blog for many more opportunities: 

Straus Historical Society

The goal the Straus Historical Society scholarship program is to help support the continuing education of a student or students whose professional goal is in the field of public service.  The Society defines public service as employment in government, the uniform services, public interest in non-governmental research and/or educational and nonprofit organizations, such as those whose primary purposes or to help needy or disadvantage persons or to protect the environment.  Columbia University is one of only three schools selected for applications for the 2019/2020 school year. The application can be found on the Straus Historical Society website.

Application deadline: November 1, 2018.

The  American-Scandinavian Foundation

The Foundation offers over $500,000 in funding to students from Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway to undertake graduate level study and research in the United States. Awards are made in all fields. See this website for more information.

The application will open in November, with a deadline of April 1, 2019.

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

Next Steps for Admitted Students, Fall 2018

First off, a big congratulations on being accepted to Columbia SIPA! I hope you celebrated this achievement – it was a competitive applicant pool! – and are now ready to go over a few things that every newly-admitted student should know. In this post I’ll cover:

  • The Welcome Portal
  • Your Status Page (and how to avoid delays in starting off your school year)
  • Official Documents (this probably applies to you)
  • Conditional Admission
  • Money, Deposits, and Financial Aid

The Welcome Portal

The Welcome Portal has everything you need regarding next steps. Even if you aren’t sure where you’ll end up yet, the Welcome Portal provides information to help you make that decision: Upcoming deadlines, student housing information, and special events and webinars, including Faculty Q&As and Financial Aid advice.

The Welcome Portal is also where you’ll go to accept your admissions offer – your offer deadline is in your admissions letter, along with login details for the Welcome Portal.

You should also follow us on Instagram @Columbia.SIPA to share your admissions story and connect with future classmates with #SIPAClassof2020!

Your Status Page

The last thing you want is a delay to starting off your school year, but that is easily avoided by checking in with the Status Page. This is where you’ll go to review your Application Checklist. Even though you’ve been accepted, there are a few items on the checklist that we need to finalize your academic record before August 2018. And if your record isn’t finalized, you won’t be able to register for classes during Fall 2018 orientation. Don’t be that person!

Official Documents

When you review the Welcome Portal, you’ll notice a section that outlines upcoming deadlines for the Application Checklist materials, also known as official documents. These are hard deadlines for the Admissions Office to receive your official documents, mainly transcripts and test scores.

“But I thought I submitted my application and this whole thing was over!” Not quite, but almost!

In the past few years, at least 90% of our accepted students did not submit all of their official documents to our office. Safe to say, this may be familiar to you:

  • You applied to SIPA. You submitted a scanned copy of your college transcript(s).
  • You were admitted to SIPA with that scanned transcript(s). But, that is still a scan of a transcript, which means it is an unofficial copy.
  • Even if your college registrar’s office handed you an official transcript, since you opened it and scanned it, we must consider it an unofficial copy because it’s technically been altered.

“But my Status Page has a green checkmark next to my transcript, and I’m still seeing a notification that my official transcript has not been submitted. What gives?”

The green checkmark is referring to your unofficial copy tied to your application – just cross-check the upload date and hover over the checkmark (see below) to see if the pop-up text reads “Received Copy” or “Received.” Check out our “Dissecting the Application Checklist” post if you’re still confused.

“How do I send in my official transcripts and test scores?”

All of this information is in the Welcome Portal (seriously, check it out if you haven’t already), but: Official test scores must be on file by June 1, 2018; and official transcripts must be on file by July 13, 2018, (unless instructed otherwise). International students who won’t have conferred degrees until after the deadline should email us and we’ll make a note on their account.

Official test scores must be sent to us by the testing company (ex: ETS, GMAC).

– GRE / TOEFL ibt school code: 2161 (no department code)
– GMAT school code: MIA is QF8-64-56; MPA is QF8-64-99

Mail your official transcripts to us at:
Columbia University | SIPA
Office of Admissions & Financial Aid
514 West 113th Street
New York, New York 10025
(Reminder: Official transcripts must be in an envelope that is sealed and signed. )

While you can email them to sipa_admission@sipa.columbia.edu, note that the transcripts must be sent from the registrar’s office through a service like eSCRIP-SAFE in order to be considered official.

Official Test Scores

The same rules outlined above apply to your official test scores. But if you truly know you sent us your official scores, there may be a workaround from re-ordering your test scores.

Chances are your application name and email address are not recorded the same as the name and email address you registered to take the GRE/GMAT or TOEFL/IELTS/PTE with a few months ago. (You may recall us warning against this in the application instructions.) Thus, we couldn’t match the exam to your account because of the mismatch.

If that’s the case, contact the testing center and confirm your full name, date of birth and email address associated with your account. You’ll need to send us that information, along with the batch number/cycle number for GRE and TOEFL scores; the appointment number and identification number for GMAT scores; or send us the official score report for IELTS/PTE scores.

Conditional Admission

Supplemental Quant

If you were required additional quantitative preparation prior to enrolling at SIPA, this means your overall application and achievements are admirable, and we believe you’ll be better equipped for success at SIPA by completing economics coursework prior to your enrollment.

You can complete this requirement by taking both Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics with a B or better. (The single Principles of Economics course is no longer an option, except for Fall 2018 Early Action admitted students.)

These courses may be physical or virtual (online) but must be from an accredited academic institution. This course can be completed abroad as long as the institution is accredited in its home country. If you’re unsure, check the university’s website for their accreditation notice or consult with World Education Services for assistance. Free courses through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) or certificate programs through Coursera and other online services do not fulfill this requirement. Successful completion is defined as a letter grade of B or higher or its numerical equivalent. We can’t recommend any institution over another, so, unfortunately, we can’t offer further guidance on where to complete this requirement.

Please submit final transcripts verifying your successful completion of these courses to the Admissions Office by August 20, 2018. If you are completing the economics courses during the summer, you must also send proof of course registration to the Admissions Office by July 1, 2018. By completing this requirement, your admission to SIPA will become final.

SIPA Summer and/or Fall ALP

Some international students are required to enroll in summer and/or fall ALP as a condition of their admission. Your admission letter states if you are required to complete this coursework. We cannot waive this requirement because this is a policy set by the university. The only way to waive out of it (as described in the admission letter/Welcome Portal), is to provide new TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores that show at least a score of 110 on the TOEFL, 7.5 on the IELTS, or 76 on the PTE. Improved scores must be submitted to the Admissions Office no later than June 1, 2018.

Money, Deposits, and Financial Aid

Your Admissions Deposit

You have until the date on your admission letter to accept your enrollment offer AND pay the $2,000.00 USD admission deposit. This deposit ultimately goes towards your tuition bill.

You do not have to accept and pay the deposit at the same time. So you can submit your response form and select “yes,” and then access your Status Page in a couple weeks to make the deposit payment. However, your deposit payment must be paid in full at once (no partial payments). This should be paid through the online portal. Just click on the corresponding hyperlink to submit your payment. You’ll continue to see a reminder on your Status Page until your deposit is paid, and only after you’ve submitted your response form.

Financial Aid and Fellowships

If you received a scholarship or fellowship, you will have received a separate notification letter about your funding along with your letter of admission. (Early-action candidates had to wait until now to learn about their funding status.)

To see your funding letters, go to your Status Page, scroll down to where it says Status Update and click on the View Update link. From there, you’ll be directed to your admission letter. Then you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of your letter. This is where you’ll see if you have one (or several) letters available to read. If there’s an additional linked date under “The Following letters are available for this account,” you should click on it!

All students, whether funded their first year or not, will be able to apply for second-year funding. Most of this funding is in the form of assistantships for second-year students who succeeded in their first year of studies. (You’ll learn more about these opportunities during the spring semester of your first year.)

We also encourage you to visit the Financial Aid page for more information about funding your education, which includes a database of external funding opportunities.

Tuition, Fees, and Billing

Columbia University releases an annual estimated cost of attendance, which you can view for the 2018-2019 year here.

Your tuition bill will be generated closer to the start of the academic term. You also have the option to set up a payment plan or coordinate your payments with a third-party sponsor. For more information on that process, browse the Student Financial Services website. (Note: The Office of Admissions & Financial Aid is not involved in this process.) You can also browse this site to get a historical look at the tuition and fees SIPA (Columbia University) has charged each year.

Contact Us

If you need anything give us a call or send an email. If you’re an admitted student with specific financial aid or fellowship inquiries, please email them with a descriptive and informative subject line to sipa_finaid@columbia.edu. Admissions questions can continue to go to sipa_admission@columbia.edu or sipa_new@columbia.edu.

And once again, congratulations to our admitted students!

SIPA Scholarships: Regional, International Opportunities

As we near our fellowship aid deadline on January 5th, here’s some information about regional, international scholarships. Among SIPA’s scholarships and fellowships are a number that are available to students from (or in some cases, studying) a particular country or region of the world.  Our scholarships are merit-based and competitive. The full list of gifts and endowed funds can be found here.

 The Jorge Paulo Lemann Fellowship: Available to Brazilian students, or those of other nationalities who can demonstrate a strong interest in social change in Brazil.

The Robert Legvold Fellowship Fund: Available to residents of, or immigrants from, the former Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, the former East Germany, Romania, Mongolia, Cuba or Vietnam.

The Kathryn Wasserman Davis Fellowship:  This award is available to students from the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the former Yugoslavia, China or Taiwan.

The Taha Fund:  This award is for students who are residents of Iraq or Turkey, or other international students who have expressed a serious interest in the Middle East as indicated by work experience, language training, course work, etc.

The Shetty and Ahmad Endowment: This fellowship is available to students who have resided in India or Pakistan and/or are interested in sustainable development.

The Magzhan Auezov Fellowship: The fellowship was established for residents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, or to students studying topics related to that region of Central Asia.

The Columbia Scholarship Program for Displaced Persons: Full tuition and living expenses for students displaced as the result of the civil war in Syria.

The Rambourg Fellowship:  This new award provides full expenses for students from Tunisia.

We also encourage you to view our Financial Aid external funding sources for more information about scholarships from charitable or professional organizations, employers, philanthropic groups, or agencies in other countries. These resources have varying eligibility criteria, deadlines, and contact information. Our financial aid team is dedicated to helping you explore all available means to finance your graduate education. Make sure that you review our financial aid page for more details about financial planning and investing in your graduate education.

Common SIPA stresses and their cures

From 2016:

When we talk about graduate school, especially at elite institutions, we inevitably talk about stress. But Seeples are unique, and so are their sources of stress. Read-on for some of the most common ones, and their cures:

  1. Not having enough money: Refer to my “Managing A Student Budget” post back in February 2016. You may feel poor now, but you won’t for long, and there are ways to deal with the costs of a SIPA education and life in New York. Take advantage of cost-managing resources (campus and off-campus), try finding additional sources of income, and manage your expectations.
  2. Being homesick: See my post on conquering homesickness. From immersing yourself in work, to making new friends and exploring New York, to connecting with your roots and taking trips home when you can, there are countless ways to mitigate the painful effects of being away from home.
  3. Feeling overwhelmed: Take it easy, or rather, take it one activity/task/day at a time. SIPA can be a lot to swallow, between the academic, the professional and the social, but you wouldn’t have gotten in if we hadn’t believed you could do it, and thrive! There are campus resources available for help, from academic support in OSA, to counseling at Columbia Health. Reach out if you feel like you’re drowning, there’s always a solution!
  4. Having your order messed up at (insert café): Be it Alice’s, Artopolis, Nous, etc., we have all had our share of “I asked for a pistachio muffin and a hot latte, not a cold pistachio latte and a coffee-flavored muffin!” moments. It can be particularly stressful when you’re rushing to class, or have a long line of people behind you. Be nice (try! I don’t always succeed, especially in the face of repeated “offenses”), explain your order again, and be patient while the staff gets it together. Or, if you’re truly at wits’ end (like me), ask for your money back and leave empty-handed. Sometimes it’s a relief to just step away.
  5. Administration Woes: Sometimes it’s the student worker in OSA who doesn’t know the answer to your question, or a mistype in an official document you had requested. Mistakes happen, it’s life, and nobody (not even Ivy League schools) is perfect! So take a deep breath, and go through the same steps as for # 4 above. Since leaving empty-handed is less realistic than for # 4, try your best to work with the administration to resolve your issue. Help them help you! Not only will they be grateful for your professionalism, patience and resourcefulness, you will also likely get the problem solved faster!
  6. Professor Woes: The professor didn’t clarify an assignment, or didn’t provide resources to find course readings, or instituted a policy you disagree with/which has the potential to harm your academic performance (such as the dreaded “no laptops” policy). Dialogue is your best friend! Talk to the professor, in person, if possible. Explain your needs, and your position (sometimes professors can be unaware of these), and ask if they can either 1. Change the policy or 2. Make an exception. For e.g., someone in my classes had a documented disability, but, due to miscommunication from the appropriate office, the professor never found out about it, and banned laptop use in class. After the student explained that he was unable to take notes by hand, the professor made an exception in their case. Likewise, when I told one of my professors a book on the syllabus was not available in the library (and was quite expensive to buy), she lent me her copy, and later put it on Reserves in the library for the course. Speaking out can sometimes help your peers, and generations of students who come after you.
  7. Having to buy things you can get for free: This applies to many items, from your graduation caps and gowns (my undergraduate loaned them to us for free, for the graduation ceremony, and at SIPA, I am borrowing them from a SIPA alumna who bought them), to books (professors may recommend that you buy them, but you are in no way obligated to! You can also borrow them, read them at the library, or find them online, if they are available), to materials (such as the guide for Professional Development course – it is really just an introductory guide on how to write resumes, cover letters and the likes, and you can either find that information online, or borrow the guide from a second-year SIPA student. You are required to bring it to one session of the class, but it is barely used).
  8. Housing Woes: You have rats. You roommate plays the saxophone at 3 AM. There is no hot water. The elevator is broken. Talk to Columbia Housing, and seek other resources within Columbia and SIPA. Even if resources are not immediately available, people may have information that can help you. Another SIPA friend of mine had to move out from her apartment in a matter of weeks because her landlady was apparently renting out the apartment illegally. She was casually talking to one of the Deans about it, and they happened to know someone who was looking to sublet their apartment for the year, so she moved into a new building that same week. SIPA/Columbia are a vast network, and this network can offer a multitude of solutions if you reach out.
  9. Stressing about unnecessary things: If # 4 is a genuine source of stress, and you nodded in agreement, instead of just rolling your eyes and scrolling down, then, in Ron Weasley’s words, you need to reassess your priorities! :))
[Image by Kaitlyn Wells | Yes, that’s a SIPA stress ball!]

"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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