Archive for public service

Ambassador Susan Rice wants you to become a public servant

“There’s nothing more rewarding than choosing a career in public service,” says Ambassador Susan E. Rice, National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama. I honestly agree with that sentiment; and I am sure many of you do, too. Ambassador Rice made the comment in a promotional video for The White House last week. The video encourages Americans to consider careers in public service, specifically in national security and international affairs.

Here’s an excerpt from her accompanying letter:

If you care about the world and want to help shape a better future for us all, there is nothing more rewarding than choosing a career in public service.  You can directly contribute to keeping our country strong and safe. 

As a public servant, every day brings new and different challenges.  The work is hard, but nothing is more gratifying than knowing you’ve made a difference in the world–that you’ve helped make someone’s life just a little bit better. 

Read the rest here.

While Ambassador Rice addresses Americans in the video and letter, the call to serve may be applied to anyone interested in working in public service. Speaking of public service (*cough, cough*), SIPA can definitely help you fulfill that goal, as our degree programs offer courses in development, foreign policy and security policy, which are all taught by leaders in their respective fields. Among the MIA and MPA degree programs, students focus their education in one of six degree concentrations (or majors): Economic and Political DevelopmentEnergy and EnvironmentHuman Rights & Humanitarian PolicyInternational Finance and Economic PolicyInternational Security Policy; or Urban and Social Policy.

Upon graduation, our Seeple implement what they learned in the classroom in the next steps of their careers. More than 87 percent and 89 percent of MIA and MPA graduates, respectively, were employed upon graduation in 2014, the latest data available. In the public sector, they found jobs working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore, the French Army, Hawaii State Legislature, Department of Justice, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, U.S. Department of Defense, European Central Bank, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Bank Group, and the list just goes on an on.

That’s why it’s a challenge to respond when someone asks me what type of jobs are available to our graduates. As this snippet of an employer list suggests, the opportunities are all across the globe (and in every job sector!). So even if you don’t think public service is the right career path for you, you can feel confident knowing that if you work hard you can earn the post-grad job of your dreams. It’s cheesy, I know, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Where do you hope to end up after SIPA? Tell me about your career plans in your application of admission, which is due on Feb. 5, 2016. I look forward to reading all about it.

[Featured photo courtesy of IREX, Flickr | (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Presidential Summit for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Conversation w/ National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice Introduction by Fellow Laura Golakeh on July 30, 2014.]

Looking for a few good people

If you are interested in making a difference, serving the people of New York, and helping to write the next great chapter in New York’s history; there is an opportunity for you to keep in mind as you plan your career in public service.  The New York State Excelsior Service Fellowship Program brings graduates into government service.  Excelsior Fellows work alongside senor members of the administration and play a policy-influencing role in New York State with the opportunity to work on the most pressing issues of the day.

The program is accepting applications for the 2014-2016 class from students who are graduating this academic year (February 2014 or May 2014).    International students are eligible to apply; however, you must have U.S. work authorization for the duration of the fellowship, as the State does not provide employment sponsorship.

To apply, students must provide a personal statement (one page or less, describe your interest in public service, referencing academic, professional, and civic experiences that demonstrate such interests.  Additionally, discuss your career goals and how the Excelsior Service Fellowship will contribute to these goals.), resume, graduate school transcript(s), one recommendation letter and submit it to: by February 10, 2014.



This fall, approximately 80 individuals newly graduated from college, graduate and professional schools from across New York State and the nation will begin their service as Excelsior Service Fellows.  The New York State Excelsior Service Fellowship is designed to attract the “best and the brightest,” who are called to a career in public service.  Being an Excelsior Fellow is an honor, privilege and full-time commitment.   Fellows serve in a variety of capacities within such agencies like the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Labor, Housing and Community Renewal, the Department of Financial Services, and the Empire State Development Corporation.  Alternatively, Fellows may be assigned to roles in the Governor’s or Lieutenant Governor’s Office.  Each Fellow, in his or her own way, is making important contributions in building the New New York.  The Fellowship is a two-year program that combines both experiential and professional development opportunities designed to nurture and cultivate the next generation of leaders in New York State government.   While not guaranteed, there is the potential for high-performing Fellows to remain in State service at the conclusion of the Fellowship.

Each school may select up to seven (7) Fellows for the 2014-2016 class.  Fellows possessing a graduate degree (i.e. MA, MPA, MBA, or JD) will receive an annual salary not to exceed $70,000.  All Fellows are considered State employees and also receive a full benefits package.  The schools will forward their selections to the Center for Recruitment and Public Service.  Upon receipt of Fellowship candidates, the Program Committee will conduct interviews with each candidate to obtain additional information regarding the candidate’s background and interests.  These interviews are an important component in the Program Committee’s assignment determination process.  It is important to note that while we will accept all program nominations from our academic partners, the State will reserve its right to appoint only the most highly qualified nominees.

Placements are generally in the Albany area (>80%) although some positions may be in New York City and are made based on agency needs.



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:


Financing your education at SIPA – Part 7

Our last post about financing your education focused on student loan repayments options to consider when you’re first thinking about taking out a loan or when you’re weighing your repayment options as you prepare to graduate from SIPA (or any other institution).

One new initiative that we’re excited about at SIPA is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.  Under this program, student borrowers who pursue careers in the non-profit or public service sectors can have their outstanding loan balance forgiven after 120 months of repayment.  This forgiveness program applies to Federal Direct Loans (also known as Stafford Loans), Graduate PLUS loans, and Federal Direct Consolidation Loans.  It is not available for Federal Perkins Loans or any type of private loans.

If a student borrower qualifies for the Income Based Repayment program (available to borrowers with lower incomes during repayment), the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program can save a borrower a considerable amount of money; depending on the amount borrowed, maybe tens of thousands of dollars.  As many SIPA students seek out such employment before, during and after graduation, this is an initiative that we want all SIPA students who borrow to be aware of.  For more information, visit any of these websites:

These 120 monthly payments need not be consecutive; for instance, if you start working in the non-profit sector immediately after graduating, work for a while in the private sector but then return to non-profit, you could still qualify.  However, you do have to make 120 monthly payments while working in the non-profit sector.  Your loan servicer will need verification of employment.  Note: while paying off your loan quickly (in 10 years or less) will save you money by minimizing interest, it will also prevent you from being able to take advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness, because if after the 120 monthly payments you have no remaining balance, there will be no outstanding loan amount to be forgiven.  It cannot be applied retroactively to loan amounts already paid off.

Non-profit or public sector employment may include any of the following:

–       A Federal, State, local, or Tribal government organization, agency, or entity;

–       A public child or family service agency;

–       Volunteering full-time in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps;

–       A non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code;

–       A Tribal college or university; or

–       A private non-profit organization (that is not a labor union or a partisan political organization) that provides at least one of the following public services:

Emergency management

Military service

Public safety or law enforcement

Public interest law services

Early childhood education (including licensed or regulated child care, Head Start, and state-funded pre-kindergarten)

Public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly

Public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations and health care support occupations)

Public education or other school-based services

Public or school library services

This employment must be full-time (an average of at least 30 hours a week) and while in most cases the exact nature of the work does not matter, it cannot include religious instruction or worship, or any kind of proselytizing.  Work for a labor union or partisan political organization also does not count as public service for purposes of this program.

There are circumstances in which your student loans can’t be forgiven but at least you would be able to halt payments temporarily.  This is called either deferment or forbearance, and is applicable for enrolling at least half-time in a degree program, serving in the military (including the National Guard or Reserves), unemployed or experiencing economic hardship, or serving in the Peace Corps.  In some cases, interest may continue to accrue on your loans, which you would ultimately be responsible for, but deferment or forbearance may help a borrower out during times that making loan payments would create a hardship.  For more information, visit these sites:

If you choose to borrow student loans to attend SIPA, online entrance counseling will be provided so you can get more details about your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.  But if you have questions at any time or would like to learn more about borrowing, feel free to contact us at


PPIA Fellowship Program 2013

The Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program  (PPIA) Fellowship program prepares undergraduates to be competitive candidates for top degree programs in the fields of Public Policy, Public Administration, International Affairs, or a related field through a consortium of over 30 graduate schools of Public Policy and International Affairs in the U.S.   Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs is one of the 30 graduate schools that make up the consortium.

PPIA is currently accepting applications for the 2013 Junior Summer Institutes; which gives students the chance to strengthen their prospects of attending graduate school and achieving a career in public service.  The entry point for the PPIA program is acceptance and attendance to one of its Junior Summer Institutes. Each year, the national program selects an outstanding group of college juniors from across the U.S. to participate in the JSIs.

Participation in a JSI will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in graduate school and, ultimately, in influential roles serving the public good. Upon completion of their institutes, students have access to opportunities for mentoring and career development through an extensive alumni network. JSI participants are also guaranteed a minimum, one-time financial award of $5,000 for their graduate school education if they attend one of the programs in PPIA’s graduate school consortium. Most PPIA alumni who are accepted to a consortium school receive well above this figure in financial aid towards their graduate education.

Interested applicants can access the application online at Deadline for all materials is November 1st, 2012.

To learn more about PPIA, please visit:

"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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