Archive for US Citizen

Did you know?

When the US Congress passed The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, it created a student loan interest rate tied to the 10-year Treasury note, to be adjusted annually. As you are aware, interest rates have been rising, and the US Department of Education recently announced that rates for academic periods beginning on or after July 1, 2014 will be as follows:

Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans: 6.21%

Graduate PLUS Loans: 7.21%

These rates represent a 0.8% increase over the rates available between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. If you intend to borrow and are enrolled in a program that includes a summer term, such as the PESP or PEPM programs, or continuing students in the EMPA program, the lower rates still apply so long as you complete all necessary application materials before July 1.

These rates are fixed for the life of the loan, although we are encouraged by recent proposals in the Senate to allow for refinancing of student loans at lower interest rates. Also remember that the government deducts fees from these loans at the time of disbursement; rates set during Sequestration are now at 1.073% for the Unsubsidized Loan and 4.292% for the PLUS loan.

If you have any questions about student loans, please contact the SIPA Financial Aid Office at sipa_finaid@columbia.edu  or 212-854-6216. We hope you have an enjoyable and productive summer.

 

It’s FAFSA Time!

Admitting the best applicants and getting them here is always on our mind.

Students admitted to SIPA are considered for scholarships (presuming you had submitted your application by the fellowship deadline), but if you need additional assistance from student loans or Work Study, you will need to complete the 2014/15 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA.  To do so, go to www.fafsa.gov.   The information collected on the FAFSA will be used by the SIPA Financial Aid Office to determine your eligibility for student loans available from the federal government and possible work study jobs.

If you completed the FAFSA as an undergraduate, you’ll be familiar with the process, although as a graduate student, no parental information is necessary.   If you have a PIN number that you used as an undergraduate, use the same one.  If you have never completed a FAFSA before, you will need a PIN in order to complete the FAFSA; you must go to www.pin.ed.gov, which is linked from www.fafsa.gov.

When you complete the FAFSA, designate Columbia University as the recipient with our school code number, 002707, in Step 6 of the FAFSA.

Do not wait until you have received an admission decision to complete your FAFSA.  While there is no absolute deadline approaching, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible; we recommend that you do so by about March 1 for a timely review.  Also be aware that this is an annual form, and you will need to complete the 2015/16 FAFSA for your second year should you wish to borrow or be considered for a work study position.  If you are only interested in SIPA scholarships and do not wish to borrow loans, you need not complete the FAFSA.  You can, however, submit a FAFSA later if you decide that you do want to explore student loan or Work Study options.

The FAFSA is a lengthy form that collects a lot of information.  If you are completing the FAFSA for the first time, it can be confusing.  If you have any questions or need any assistance, contact us at 212-854-6216 or email us at sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.

 

Note: Do not complete a FAFSA if you are an international student.  It is used to determine eligibility for aid available only to US citizens and permanent residents.

 

know before you get yourself in a financial pickle

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) has issued a report that revealed a number of improper and possibly illegal tactics being used by service providers promising student loan borrowers that they can help reduce their loan burden by consolidating student loans or entering into alternative repayment plans such as the Income Based Repayment or Pay As You Earn plans…for a fee.  While such strategies are perfectly legitimate – the US Department of Education offers a number of different options that borrowers can use when in repayment – under no circumstances should a qualified student loan borrower have to pay a fee to take advantage of these options.  They are available as part of your rights as a borrower.

To read the NCLC’s report, go to http://www.nclc.org/issues/searching-for-relief.html.

 

Applying for Financial Aid – It’s FAFSA Time!

Applying for financial aid doesn’t involve too many steps.

Some of you may want to consider financing part of your costs through student loans or work study.  If so, you will need to complete the 2013/14 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA.  To do so, go to www.fafsa.gov.   The information collected on the FAFSA will be used by the SIPA Financial Aid Office to determine your eligibility for student loans available from the federal government and possible work study jobs.

If you completed the FAFSA as an undergraduate, you’ll be familiar with the process, although as a graduate student, no parental information is necessary.   If you have a PIN number that you used as an undergraduate, use the same one.  If have never completed a FAFSA before, you will need a PIN in order to complete the FAFSA; you must go to www.pin.ed.gov, which is linked from www.fafsa.gov.

When you complete the FAFSA, designate Columbia University as the recipient with our school code number, 002707, in Step 6 of the FAFSA.

Do not wait until you have received an admission decision to complete your FAFSA.  While there is no absolute deadline approaching, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible; we recommend that you do so by March 1 for a timely review.  Also be aware that this is an annual form, and you will need to complete the 2014/15 FAFSA for your second year should you wish to borrow or be considered for a work study position.  If you are only interested in SIPA scholarships or assistantships and do not wish to borrow loans, you do not need to complete the FAFSA.

The FAFSA is a lengthy form that collects a lot of information.  If you are completing the FAFSA for the first time, it can be confusing.  If you have any questions or need any assistance, contact us at 212-854-6216 or email us at sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.

 

Note: Do not complete a FAFSA if you are an international student; it is only used to determine eligibility for student loans and Work Study available to US citizens, permanent residents and political refugees.

 

"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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