Archive for money

External fellowship: Boren Fellowship

Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency. Boren Fellowships support study and research in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.  For a complete list of countries, click here.

Boren Fellows represent a variety of academic and professional disciplines, but all are interested in studying less commonly taught languages, including but not limited to Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Swahili. For a complete list of languages, click here.

Boren Fellowships are funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. Applicants should identify how their projects, as well as their future academic and career goals, will contribute to U.S. national security, broadly defined.  NSEP draws on a broad definition of national security, recognizing that the scope of national security has expanded to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting and promoting American well-being, but also the challenges of global society, including sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness.

To view the Program Basics of the Boren Fellowships, click here.

Application deadlineJanuary 31, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. EST. For more information about the application process, click here.

Boren Fellowship applicants will be notified of their status by mail in early May.


Top 10 Tips for 2012 Application – #7 Fellowship Statement

This is the seventh entry in our “Top 10″ list to assist you with understanding the process of submitting your 2012 admission application to SIPA. This entry is focused on advice regarding the section of the application entitled “Fellowship Statement.”

Funding a graduate school education can be challenging and I will offer additional insight regarding financial aid in some future entries.  The point of this entry is to provide guidance on the information that we ask for on the admission application.

Question: What do I need to do to be considered for a scholarship from SIPA?

Answer: Every single person that applies to SIPA is considered for SIPA scholarship funding. Thus, all you need to do to be considered is to complete the admission application.

When an Admission Committee member reads the application and fills out a review sheet, he or she can note that they wish for the candidate to be considered for scholarship from SIPA. After all of our admission decisions are made the Committee then takes files that have been marked “consider for fellowship” and deliberates on who will be awarded funding.

Question: Are international students treated differently in the scholarship consideration process?

Answer: No.  All applicants are treated the same regardless of citizenship. Scholarships are based on merit and we are looking for the best possible candidates for admission. This may lead to the question . . .

Question: “What characteristics does a successful scholarship candidate possess?”

Candidates we typically award first year scholarships to “stand out” among the crowd so to speak. You could say that along with academic and professional excellence, scholarship recipients possess a unique story, motivation, and/or drive backed by action that sets them apart from the rest of the pool of applicants.

It might also be a candidate that overcame extreme obstacles to achieve success. There is no formula or checklist that we use to nominate candidates for first year fellowship, we typically tell the Committee to identify the top 10-15% of files they read as worthy of scholarship consideration.

The decision of who to award scholarships to is very difficult for a few reasons. First, our applicant pools are extremely qualified each year. Every admitted applicant possesses an impressive record of accomplishments matched by unique characteristics that the Committee believes will make a strong contribution to the admitted class.

Second, the Committee is only able to award funding to approximately 10-15% of the admitted class. SIPA reserves the majority of scholarship funding for second year students. Not receiving a scholarship offer from SIPA as a newly admitted candidate should not be taken as a slight, it has more to do with the very accomplished pool of applicants and the limited amount of funding for the first year of study.

Non-Columbia Fellowships

SIPA does partner with several organizations to provide funding for admitted candidates. In some cases we provide matching funding and in other cases we just wish to recognize the affiliation by granting our own scholarship to a candidate. The organizations we partner with are listed in a drop down menu on the Fellowship Statement Page of the application. See below for a picture:

You may choose up to two organizations you either have an affiliation with or organizations you have submitted applications to for funding. The process is competitive and we are often not able to award funding to everyone that has a relationship with an affiliated organization.

For example, we receive applications from many qualified alumni of the Peace Corps and we do set aside funding to recognize excellence during service in the Peace Corps, however with the large number of Peace Corps alumni applying we are unable to provide funding to every qualified candidate.

You can access the same list that is on the application by clicking here.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – Timing

U.S. citizens and permanent residents interested in receiving funding from the Federal Government should submit the FAFSA, but please do not do so prior to January 1st, 2012. The 2012-2013 FAFSA will be needed and the Department of Education does not post the form online until the new year starts.  Our FAFSA code is 002707.

Question: What is meant by “head of household?”

Answer: By head of household we mean that you are either entirely responsible for your own finances or that you are the main source of income in a family unit. The family unit should not include your mother or father. An example of head of household would be that live on your own or that you are married and have been earning 50.1% or more of the income for your household (which might or might not include children).

Assets and Liabilities Sections

The instructions are fairly clear on the site, please only enter your assets/liabilities and if married include those of your spouse. Do not include parental information.

Question: Do I need to provide proof of the ability to pay for my education costs when I apply?

Answer: No. Admission decisions take into account merit only, not the ability to pay. International students admitted to the program will have to provide proof of funding to have a visa issued, however this process does not take place until after an international candidate has been admitted and paid an enrollment deposit.

Question: Is the International Fellows Program (IFP) and/or Lemann Fellowship different from general SIPA scholarship funding?

Answer: Yes. Consideration for scholarship funding through the International Fellows program or Lemann Fellowship is different from general SIPA scholarships. To apply, applicants must submit a 300 word statement about why they wish to be considered (separate essay for each program).

It is not mandatory to apply for IFP  or Lemann funding.  Applying for these funds is optional and candidates who do not apply will not be viewed negatively. For more information on these programs please see the Special Fellowships Section on the bottom of this page.

Top 10 Communication Tips 2011 – #8

This is the eighth entry in our “Top 10″ list for you to consider when communicating with our office and applying.

Number 8 – Familiarize Yourself with Expenses and Start searching for fellowships/scholarships/grants as soon as possible!

There is no doubt about the fact that graduate school can be expensive.  We will do as much as we can to educate you on financial options, but by far the number one thing you can do is to be diligent in searching for fellowships and grants.  Do not wait to search until you have applied, you should start the search long before applying.  Each applicant should follow what I call the “rule of 2.”  Basically my assertion is that applicants should spend twice as much time applying for fellowships as time spent working on an admission application.  If it takes you 10 hours to prepare your admission application, you would be well served to spend 20 hours looking for fellowships – minimum.  A great resource to get you started is our external fellowship database.

Most of the information you need concerning the cost to attend is available on our Web site, such as cost of attendance, types of aid, scholarship information, and information specifically for international students.  Please do note that SIPA scholarships come from one general pool – there is no difference in the scholarship award process at SIPA for domestic and international students – all students are equally considered no matter the country of origin.  Everyone that applies for admission is considered for scholarship funding.

What can I do now?

A few prospective applicants have asked me recently what they can be doing now to improve their chances of attending SIPA.  One thing you can not do now is start filling out the application.  The application for fall 2012 consideration will not be available until September 1st.  However, the first thing you can do is become familiar with the process and what we require applicants to submit.  You can do this by visiting our application check list site.

Do note that we have not finalized the personal statement questions for fall 2012.  An update will be posted to this blog as soon as final questions/topics have been decided upon.  There will also be a series on this blog that addresses each part of the application.  The series will likely start in August.

Second, it is no secret, both graduate school and New York City can be expensive.  My advice is always to be on the hunt for scholarship opportunities.  It is never too early to start looking.  My recommendation is that applicants spend a minimum of twice the amount of time applying for scholarships and grants as applying for graduate school.

Yes SIPA does award scholarships to incoming students, but not to the majority of incoming students.  Therefore it is wise to begin the search for scholarships and grants now.  I do not recommend waiting until after you receive your admission decision to start looking for funding.  We do our best to assist by providing a database of external grants/scholarships/fellowships.  You can access it by clicking here.

Many scholarships do require letters of recommendation and so you should also start thinking about the people you are going to ask to compose letters for you.  If you are applying for several graduate school programs and several scholarship programs you should start to think strategically about who you are going to ask for letters of recommendation and when.  I do warn against letter of recommendation fatigue.  What do I mean by this?

Let’s say you are applying for three graduate programs and five scholarship programs.  It might not be wise to ask the same person for a letter of recommendation eight different times in this instance.  Perhaps you contact the person you wish to write a letter for you and tell him or her that you would like two different versions – one for admission to a program and one for a scholarship opportunity.  You can then ask  the person to give you several copies in sealed envelops so the letters are ready to submit anytime you are ready.  Or you can tell the individuals to be prepared to receive instructions via email.  This is the case with SIPA.  We ask you to fill in the name and email of your recommenders in our system and once you do so the system generates an email with instructions on how to submit their letter.

There are other practical things to consider as well.  I recommend having one or two people proofread your resume and personal statement.  Start to think about who you will ask and contact them early so they can plan this into their schedule.

So my advice at this time is to start the planning process.  Find out when application and fellowship deadlines are and start to plug them in to your calendar.  As one of my old coaches said, “Luck favors the prepared.”  The application deadline for SIPA’s two-year, full-time MIA, MPA, and MPA-DP programs for fall 2012 is January 5th, 2012.

Financial Planning – Now, Not Later

I know what you are thinking . . . the January 5th admission deadline has passed, now I can kick my feet up and wait for my admission decision in March.  While this might be one possible option, it is not the option I recommend.

It is no secret, attending graduate school can be expensive.  The time to look into financing your education is not after you get an offer of admission, it is now.  It is a terrible feeling to get an offer of admission and only then realize you might not be able to attend due to financing.

My advice is that if you have not started already, that you set aside time each week to research issues related to the cost of graduate school and the payment options available.

There are many kinds of aid available including:

  • Institutional funding provided by SIPA
  • External Scholarships (i.e. Fulbright, Pickering)
  • Federal Loans (for U.S. citizens and permanent residents)
  • Private Loans
  • Work Study
  • Grants
  • Sponsorship funds from agencies/organizations

Most SIPA students utilize a combination of resources to make attending possible.  Each year students bring in several million dollars of funding that does not need to be repaid by researching and applying for funding.  My feeling has always been that applicants should spend twice the amount of time researching financial aid as is spent on the process of applying for admission.  I covered this topic in a past post entitled The Rule of Two.

I highly encourage you to review the entry but the analogy used is one that you might have heard before from a teacher.  It is not uncommon to hear a teacher say that for every hour spent in the classroom, at a minimum a successful student will spend two hours outside of the classroom.

My feeling about admission and financial aid is the same. At a minimum, one should spend twice as much time researching financial aid options as researching admission to a program.  While SIPA does allocate around $6 million each year on fellowships for students, a limited number of first year students receive funding (around 10-15%).

With this in mind, it will benefit you to research costs and other sources of funding so that if admitted you have a plan.  Not having a plan and not having done research is a strategy that most often leads to frustration.  Here are some tips to get you started:

• Check out SIPA’s own fellowship database. We search for scholarships for you and post them to the database.  The database is not SIPA specific.  As we search for and hear about funding, we make the information available to you.

• Use RSS technology to deliver news to your email account or RSS Reader.  RSS allows for news to be delivered to you without having to go look for it every day.  As an example, Gmail accounts have something called the “Alert” tool and I am sure other providers have the same capability.  All you have to do is put in text for searches and a search engine will perform the searches daily and deliver news to your email account.  You can type in search terms like “Graduate School Scholarships” or “International Affairs Scholarships.”  You can also utilize an RSS reader.  RSS readers are free and if you do not know what an RSS reader is, click here for a YouTube tutorial.

• Talk to people you know who have gone to graduate school and find out if they were able to find scholarship opportunities.

• Contact people that have written you a letter of recommendation and have them make multiple copies of the recommendation letter and give them to you in sealed envelops so you are ready if a scholarship opportunity arises and there is a tight deadline.

• Start to familiarize yourself with the cost of living in New York City.  SIPA is only able to provide housing for approximately 30% of our students and most students must find housing the city.  A great resource to get started is Craigslist.  I recommend signing up for an email feed for NYC apartments.  Following rental trends will help familiarize you with costs around the city.

• Familiarize yourself with the payment and billing options available to SIPA students.  You can get started by visiting the Columbia University Student Financial Services home page.

I will not say the process of searching for funding and familiarizing yourself with costs is easy and it can take a considerable amount of effort.  However, the sooner you start to look the more doors you will possibly open – figuratively and literally.

"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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