Archive for scholarship

Applying to SIPA as a Veteran or Active Duty Service Member

The transition from military service to graduate school can be intimidating, and veterans may have many concerns including how to express their experience in the application, funding opportunities, and whether they will fit in at Columbia. As a veteran and current SIPA student, I can confidently say that Columbia University is an extremely welcoming community for veterans. Columbia University has a long history of supporting veterans (Dwight Eisenhower was President of Columbia from 1948-1953!), and Columbia currently has the largest student veteran population in the Ivy Leagues. Except for funding opportunities, all of this applies equally to both U.S. and international veterans.

Patrick Dees, MIA ’20, speaks to a student about the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association (CSVA).

Tell your story!

If you’re a veteran or active duty service member applying to SIPA, the most important thing is to tell your unique story in your essays. As a school of international affairs, SIPA values your experience in the military greatly. You have spent considerable time executing national security policy, and you’ve likely had a front row seat to interesting events that you may even find yourself studying in the classroom. Your military service also demonstrates a commitment to public service, and you’ve certainly had valuable leadership experience. All of these things strengthen your application, so make sure to include them in your essays in plain language.

I recommend asking a friend with no military experience to read your essay to ensure that you’ve removed or explained any military jargon. I used Service to School, a free service that pairs you with a mentor that has gained admission to a program similar to the ones you are considering, and I found it to be extremely helpful.

Apply for all funding opportunities

Columbia has numerous resources to help veterans fund their education. Columbia’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs has an extensive website full of detailed information on funding opportunities. I highly recommend you review it. Almost all of the veteran-related funding opportunities are unfortunately only available to U.S. veterans or active duty service members.

The first step is to ensure that you apply for all GI Bill benefits for which you are eligible. If you are eligible for 100% of benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, SIPA offers additional funding through the Yellow Ribbon program. You will receive an email when the Yellow Ribbon application opens, and SIPA makes every effort to fund every eligible candidate.

Second, you should apply for funding from Columbia University. If you submit your application by the fellowship deadline, SIPA will automatically consider you for scholarships. You will also have the opportunity to apply for assistantships at the end of your first year. Information on these and other internal funding opportunities can be found here.

Third, you should research outside funding opportunities. Columbia provides a list of the opportunities most applicable to veterans and service members here. One of the opportunities I applied for, and was honored to receive, is the Tillman Scholarship. Columbia University is a University Partner school, and there are several Tillman scholars currently at Columbia. The Tillman scholarship provides not only funding, but extensive professional development opportunities and access to an amazing community of veterans, spouses, and active duty service members.

Join veterans’ organizations at Columbia and SIPA

The most important thing at SIPA is to find your community. SIPA has a large and active veteran community led by the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association (CSVA). The CSVA is happy to assist prospective students, and they host several events to welcome new student veterans. Throughout the year, CSVA holds events and socials to build the veteran community. Last year, veterans had the opportunity to attend discussions with Lieutenant General Christopher Cavoli, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. CSVA also hosts one of SIPA’s most popular events, “Beer and War Stories,” in which student veterans and other guests share their experiences with fellow students and answer questions about the military in a casual, open discussion over beer and food.

Members of the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association meet with the Commander of U.S. Army Europe, Lieutenant General Christopher Cavoli

Opportunities after SIPA

While many assume that all veterans choose the International Security Policy concentration and pursue defense-related careers, veterans at SIPA have found their niches in a wide variety of fields. SIPA’s Office of Career Services can connect students with an alumni who volunteers as SIPA’s career coach for transitioning veterans. The U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University (Milvets) is the undergraduate student veteran group, but their events are open to all veterans. They host numerous career panels and networking opportunities throughout the year. Whatever your interests are, SIPA will provide you with avenues to explore potential careers and take advantage of your valuable military experience.

On financial aid, the JJWBGSP Scholarship, and student loan scams

To our Fall 2019 MIA, MPA and MPA-DP applicants: Thank you for your patience as the Admissions Committee reads your applications. Decisions will be released in mid-March (so, soon!), and you’ll receive an email telling you to check your Status Page.

We’ve already been receiving some questions about financial aid and wanted to give a few updates about that:

First, we’ll have a number of admitted students events, online and in-person, that will fully cover financial aid options at SIPA. A reminder that your financial aid information is confidential, and often the best way to get personal information tailored to you is by contacting our Office of Financial Aid at sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.

Second is a scholarship reminder: In case you didn’t mark your calendars last time we posted about it, the 2019 Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program application opens tomorrow, March 7th, and closes on April 11, 2019. Find the full information for the JJWBGSP Scholarship on their website.

Finally, if you have a phone number, there’s a good chance that you have recently received numerous calls from someone telling you that your student loans are eligible for reduced monthly payments and/or forgiveness. There are a number of ways that student loan borrowers may be able to reduce monthly payments and/or qualify for partial forgiveness of their loan, but please be aware that these phone calls are all scams.

An article in the morning Metro describes an example; a borrower learns about repayment options that provide some relief, but doesn’t realize that the $50 monthly fee she’s being charged to sign up and remain in that option is completely unnecessary. Student loan borrowers have many options for repayment, and thanks to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, many can get part of their loans forgiven, but all of this can be arranged by working with their loan servicer – completely free of charge. The monthly payments themselves might be a big enough financial obligation; don’t add an extra fee for services that shouldn’t cost anything.

Again, any SIPA students with questions about student loan repayment can always meet with or contact (sipa_finaid@columbia.edu) a member of the Financial Aid Office staff for guidance; we also have information on repayment and PSLF here. We know that student loans can cause stress, but take the time to get all the facts.

Payne International Development Fellowship Program is Now Welcoming Applications!

The Donald Payne International Development Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2018 Donald Payne International Development Fellowship Program at https://www.paynefellows.org! The application deadline is January 19th, 2018.

The Donald Payne International Development Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2018 Fellowship.

The Payne Fellowship is a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Program, administered by Howard University, which seeks to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers as Foreign Service Officers in USAID. Candidates must be graduating seniors or college graduates with strong academic records and a desire to promote positive change in the world. The program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, women and those with financial need.  Applicants with any undergraduate major are welcome to apply. Selected fellows will receive support for graduate school and will have a unique pathway to the USAID Foreign Service.

Program Benefits

  • An orientation to the Program and the Foreign Service at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in late spring 2018
  • Two summer internships, one on Capitol Hill in summer 2018 and one overseas at a USAID Mission in summer 2019.
  • Up to $22,000 annually toward tuition, fees and living expenses for a two-year master’s degree in fields related to the Foreign Service such as development, economics, public administration, public policy, business administration agriculture, environmental sciences, or urban planning at a U.S.-based institution.
  • Mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer throughout the duration of the fellowship.
  • Employment in USAID Foreign Service for those who successfully complete the program and meet Foreign Service entry requirements, in accordance with applicable law and USAID policy, with each Payne Fellow committing to a minimum of three years of service.

Eligibility requirements

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Seeking admission to graduate school in fall 2018 for a two-year program in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service at a U.S.-based institution
  • Cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale at the time of application

About USAID Foreign Service

USAID Foreign Service Officers work on the front lines of some of the most pressing global challenges of our times, including poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and violent extremism. They are part of a corps of officers who have worked for more than fifty years to make lasting improvements to the lives of millions of people around the globe. USAID Foreign Service Officers are stationed in Washington and in more than 75 countries in five regions worldwide – Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Eurasia, Asia, and the Middle East. They work alongside colleagues from other U.S. government agencies to achieve our country’s foreign policy objectives in democracy and governance, economic growth and trade, peace and security, education and health, conflict mitigation and humanitarian response.

Program Contact: paynefellows@howard.edu, 202-806-5952

Financial resources for (mostly) MPA-DP applicants

Part of the challenge with graduate school is finding ways to fund your education. Read More →

Applying to SIPA? Consider the 2016 PPIA Fellowship, too

About the Fellowship
The PPIA program prepares undergraduates to be competitive candidates for top degree programs in the fields of public policy, public administration or international affairs through participation in a Junior Summer Institute (JSI).

JSI is an intensive, 7-week, academic program during the summer at one of these host campuses:

  • The Ford School – University of Michigan
  • The Goldman School – UC Berkeley
  • Heinz College – Carnegie Mellon University
  • Woodrow Wilson School – Princeton University

Benefits of Participation

  • Full tuition at a PPIA Junior Summer Institute.
  • Eligibility to receive assistance with travel expenses.
  • A stipend of up to $1,500 (funding determined by each JSI).
  • University housing with a meal plan.
  • Books and related course materials at your JSI.
  • Each JSI may offer additional benefits, such as GRE preparation, at their discretion. Please check with each JSI about any additional benefits.
  • Minimum of a one-time $5,000 scholarship at a PPIA graduate school if admitted for a Master’s degree or select PhD programs. PPIA Fellows often receive financial offers above and beyond this minimum from their graduate program.
  • Fee waiver when applying to programs that are members of the PPIA Graduate School Consortium. (If you’re awarded the PPIA Fellowship, SIPA will waive your application fee when you apply.)

Eligible candidates are current undergrads who will be completing their B.A. between December 2016 and August 2017. The deadline to apply is November 1, 2015. Learn more.

Apply here.

"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

Boiler Image