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more Financial Aid questions

some more financial aid questions to chew on while you’re enjoying the holidays…

 

Q: If I do not receive funding for my first year, will I be re-evaluated for my second year?

A: Yes, there is a separate application for second year funding, and all SIPA students are eligible to apply.  Candidates for second year funding must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4.  All second year funding is merit-based.

Q: How and when are second year funding decisions made?

A: Second year awards include some scholarships but consist mostly of assistantships, which are part-time jobs in which the student receives both a scholarship and a salary.  Recipients are chosen on the basis of their academic performance and professional credentials, and as is the case with any job search, networking helps, so get to know professors or departments for which you would like to work.  Students must apply for these awards during the spring semester of their first year (usually a deadline in late February), and appointments are made starting in April and continue for several months.

Q: Is funding available for dual degree students?

A: Yes, dual degree students, along with all other SIPA applicants are automatically considered for institutional aid (fellowships and scholarships).  For more details on how to apply for financial aid, click here.  Please note that SIPA funding can only be used while in residence at SIPA, and funding is specific to the year for which it is offered and cannot be deferred while the student is attending another school.

Q: How many SIPA students borrow student loans, and what is their average indebtedness?

A: Approximately 39% of SIPA’s Class of 2013 used educational loans as part of their financing strategy, with an average loan debt for two years of $73,000.

Q: Are there ways to get any of my student loan debt forgiven?

A:  If you establish a career in the public or non-profit sectors, you may qualify for forgiveness of any remaining balance on your eligible federal student loans by taking advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.  There is also loan forgiveness available for some teachers (click here for additional details on both programs).

 

If you have a question about financial aid at SIPA, please email us at:  sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.

 

Scholarship Program for Colombian Applicants

Applicants from Colombia who are admitted to SIPA have the opportunity to apply for funding through a special program run by the Colombian government. The objective of the COLFUTURO program is to help Colombian students study abroad with the goal of promoting the economic and social development of Colombia. For information on the program, click here.

Admitted applicants who are citizens of Colombia can fill out the paperwork to be considered. Please see their Web site for specific details.


Ask Yourself a Question

With the application deadline now just over one month away I know most applicants probably don’t want to think about yet more work that needs to be done, however I would ask you to ask yourself the following question:

How much time have I spent researching various ways to help pay for school?

I try to provide as much advice as possible on the blog about how to help pay for school.  I see the issue from two sides.  First, it’s obviously a huge part of my job so I look at it from the perspective of an administrator trying help as much as I can.  Second, having gone to graduate school myself, I know it is expensive and I have been through the process myself.

I thought now is as good a time as any to  provide some links back to some of the entries I have written on the topic.  Perhaps this will encourage you to make sure doing financial aid research is on your “to do” list.  The earlier you start, the better off you are.

Keeping informed via this blog can pay off.  I know of at least one SIPA student last year that earned a $23,000 scholarship that was posted on this blog.  Stayed tuned, I keep my eyes open and post opportunities as I find out about them.  Follow the links below for previous entries on the topic.

The Rule of Two covers general principles related to fellowship searches.

If you have been in the U.S. Military you might want to look into the Yellow Ribbon Program.

An entry on SIPA Fellowships provides insight into institutional funding from SIPA.

I wrote an empathetic/sympathetic entry on Paying for School, integrating some of my own experience.

There is help for those from Latin America here.

Korean applicants might find this entry helpful.

The World Bank offers some funding opportunities.

And you can find a list of fellowships that we have accumulated by using our database.

Latin America Financial Aid Opportunities

I was recently informed of a tremendous resource for those from Latin American countries. The  Latin American Network Information Center has published a page on financial aid opportunities for applicants living in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.  I highly recommend that applicants check out the page for more information on the types of funds available and the associated deadlines.  Happy hunting!

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SIPA Fellowships

I like to try to be as transparent as possible concerning admissions and financial aid at SIPA – I am not a cloak and dagger type of guy.  I like two button sport coats, bright ties, and sneakers . . . but this is not about my fashion sense.

I know that paying for school is a big issue, both from a personal and professional standpoint.  Personally, I attended graduate school and borrowed a substantial amount of money to do so.  Professionally, it is almost impossible to talk with a prospective student and not have the topic of the cost of education come up.  In order to provide some additional insight into the situation at SIPA I thought I would post some basic information about fellowships.  There are a lot of words in this entry and no pictures, so hang in there and read carefully and I think you will find the information valuable.

First I will note that we are not able to give out near the amount of money we would like to give to first year students.  Each year we award approximately 10% of incoming students funding and the average award is around $15,000.  Below are two examples of common emails we receive after admission decisions have been sent out:

  • I am very happy to have been admitted to SIPA, however is there any way that the admissions committee can reconsider me for fellowship funding (or increase an award I have been given)?
  • I have been admitted to SIPA and to another school and the other school is offering me funding.  Can SIPA match the funding provided by the other school?

The SIPA Admissions Committee actually spends twice the amount of fellowship money we have.  Why do we do this?  Because history shows that not everyone we award funding to will attend.  Thus we greatly overspend which means that if an applicant declines their award, we cannot simply shift that money to another applicant.

Regarding the second question, each school has a different committee, different applicant pool, and different budget.  In my Apples and Oranges entry a while back I talked about how comparing an offer from one school to another may seem like a logical thing to do, but the comparison is fraught with complications and variables.  And as stated above, as much as we are excited about having you come, we simply cannot base our decision on the capability of another school to provide funding.

So what about the second year?  I am happy to say that the majority of second year students at SIPA that are qualified to apply for fellowship do receive funding.  So how do you qualify?  In order to apply for second year funding at SIPA a first year student must have a 3.2 GPA at the end of the first semester.  If you meet the GPA requirement, you will submit an application to the Office of Student Affairs at SIPA in March of your first year.  Roughly 70% of those who apply are awarded funding and the average award is around $20,000.

Second year students who are awarded fellowship funds typically have some sort of work requirement associated with the fellowship.  This can include working for a professor or in administrative department such as admissions, career services, or institutional technology.

This is a good time to put in a plug for our summer math tutorial.  Since second year funding is so dependent on academic performance, it behooves you to do all that you can to make sure you do well in the first semester –  a semester in which you will be taking a heavy dose of core requirements which are quantitatively heavy.  In May admitted applicants who have chosen to enroll will be sent instructions on how to participate in an on-line summer math tutorial.

I cannot recommend highly enough that applicants who plan on enrolling participate in the summer math tutorial.  Even if you took many quantitatively oriented classes in the past, it would do you well to knock off a little bit of rust.  Again I can speak from personal experience.  I started my graduate program when I was 28 and boy was it a shock to my system when the syllabus of the first class hit my desk.

And for those who might not have completed an economics sequence, high level math class, or a statistics class, taking a summer class from a college near you is a great idea.  Courses might include microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, linear algebra, precalculus, or calculus.

I hope this gives you a bit of insight into the process at SIPA and please click here to explore information related to cost of attendance at SIPA.  The financial aid staff in my office are working fast and furious and will be sending out financial aid letters with more information.  We try to send out an estimated award letter shortly after the admission offer is made to give you an idea of what aid you might be eligible to receive, but it does take us some time to give specifics regarding government and private aid you may be eligible to receive in an official award letter.  Thank you in advance for your patience.

"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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