Archive for Veterans

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.

Yellow Ribbon Program opens May 3

SIPA is pleased to announce the availability of the Yellow Ribbon Program Scholarship for the 2019/20 academic year.

SIPA is committed to honoring those who have served our country by being one of seventeen schools at Columbia University participating in this program. Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces play an integral part in the student life, academic endeavors, and intellectual accomplishments of the University — and especially at SIPA.

The application will be available here under “The Yellow Ribbon Program” on May 3 at 9am, Eastern Daylight Time. For more information, please email sipa_finaid@columbia.edu.

Pictured above is the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association at Admitted Students’ Day 2019. Learn more about CSVA here.

Learn more about Columbia University’s Veterans & Service Members options here.

Columbia University to open Center for Veteran Transition and Integration

Earlier this month, Columbia University announced the creation of a new Center for Veteran Transition and Integration that will provide innovative educational programming and support for veterans making the transition to two- and four-year colleges, graduate and professional schools, civilian life, and the workforce.

Major Michael Abrams, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and a current Marine Corps Reservist, as well as the founder of FourBlock, a program to prepare veterans for business careers, will lead the center as its executive director. Beth Morgan, former executive director of Service to School and director of higher education initiatives for the Marine Corps, joins the center as director of higher education transition and partnerships.

The Center for Veterans will open in the fall of 2017.

Columbia’s long-standing commitment to veterans can be traced back to 1947, when the School of General Studies was founded to integrate into the University community thousands of returning military veterans seeking education after World War II through the first GI Bill. Today more than 650 veterans are enrolled at Columbia, most of them supported by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program. The University has enrolled more student-veterans than all other Ivy League schools combined, while maintaining a graduation rate above 90 percent and a record of job and graduate school placement that equals Columbia’s non-veteran graduates. Highlighting this success, this year’s valedictorian at the School of General Studies is Colin Valentini, a Marine Corps veteran who came to Columbia to study applied mathematics.

Columbia’s successful efforts in helping military service members make the transition to a rigorous academic environment has prompted interest from other universities, employers, government agencies, and veteran-support organizations across the country that would like to replicate its veteran support model.

The new veteran’s center will draw on Columbia’s expertise in curriculum development, instructional technology, and support services in facilitating veterans’ success in an academic setting. In collaboration with a network of public and private partners, the center will provide access to world-class technology and technical support. It will serve military service members at all levels, enlisted and officers, as well as active-duty military personnel preparing for transition, veterans already in higher education, and veterans in the workforce, providing them with the best-in-class resources that they need to ensure their continued academic and professional development. The experience and expertise that Abrams and Morgan bring to this endeavor will be integral in achieving the Center’s vision.

Read more about the Center at Columbia News.

Yellow Ribbon Application Instructions

As those with a U.S. military background probably know, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs provides significant financial aid opportunities to students who served in the U.S. Armed Forces on or after September 11, 2001, as well as the dependents of these veterans. More information about the bill’s benefits and eligibility requirements is available at http://www.gibill.va.gov/.

In addition, through an initiative authorized by the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, higher education institutions can provide eligible student veterans with a tuition waiver or grant that is matched by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This program, known as the Yellow Ribbon Program, enhances the base tuition benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill for those students that qualify at the 100% level for the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

SIPA is happy to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.  If you are a qualifying veteran, or the qualifying dependent of a veteran, and you are interested in benefiting from the Yellow Ribbon Program, you must submit an online form for our office to consider.  The online form for SIPA will go live on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 at 1:00 P.M. EST.  As stipulated by the Post 9/11 GI Bill, eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program is determined on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is important that you complete this form as soon as possible after it goes live.

The link to the form for those interested in the Yellow Ribbon Program will go live on the following site on Tuesday, June 1st at 1:00 P.M. EST.  I encourage you to visit the link now to familiarize yourself with the page and where the Yellow Ribbon link resides.  The link will be on the bottom of the page but it will not activate until the stated time of Tuesday, June 1st at 1:00 P.M. EST:

http://sipa.columbia.edu/resources_services/financial_aid/forms_online.html

For more information about veteran affairs at Columbia more generally, please visit:

www.veteranaffairs.columbia.edu.

Yellow Ribbon Program

SIPA is proud to be a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a financial aid opportunity under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  Interested Veterans will need to complete two steps to qualify.  First is to file paperwork with the Department of Veterans Affairs and second is to submit a Web based form to SIPA.  The funding is based on a first-come, first-served basis and applicants will be ranked by when they apply for the program via the Web based form supplied by SIPA.

We are currently working on getting the form set up and when we have more information on when it will become available we will post information to this blog as well as send an email to the email address supplied by applicants when they applied.  Stay tuned for more information.  A general overview of the program is available on the Columbia University Student Financial Services Web site.

"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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