Archive for work study

Financial Aid FAQs: Common questions about paying for SIPA

We often tell students that as much as you plan for graduate school, you should also be planning for the tuition and payments side of it. But we understand it’s a process, and we’re here to walk you through the process.

Our financial aid officers have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help with concerns about student loans, work study, billing, and payment.

Student Loans

I was only awarded the Direct Unsubsidized Loan for $20,500 but I need more funding. What are my options?

When you submit the FAFSA, we can package you with the Direct Unsubsidized Loan because it does not require a credit check or additional application. For graduate students, the annual cap for the Unsubsidized Loan is $20,500; however, you can also apply for a Graduate PLUS loan. If you have already received your award notification, please see the Documents & Messages page of NetPartner. Beneath the section labeled “Unmet Financial Need,” you will find the application and you will see your remaining amount of need which is the maximum you can borrow in a Graduate PLUS or similar private loan.

When do I need to apply for loans/complete entrance counseling/sign the promissory notes?

We recommend you have your aid in place no later than early August. Please log in to NetPartner and be sure to accept your awards on the Accept Awards tab and review the Documents & Messages page for any outstanding materials.

When and how will the loan be disbursed?

Loans are divided evenly between the terms you are enrolled and disbursed to your Columbia student account at the beginning of each semester.

If I borrowed loans to cover living expenses, how and when will that money be refunded to me?

We strongly encourage you to set up direct deposit (click here for instructions). Any amount you borrowed in excess of the tuition and fees for the semester will be issued as a refund to you by the second week of classes after the loan has disbursed to your student bill and after you have registered for classes (assuming you have also completed all the necessary steps on NetPartner).

Can international students borrow student loans?

There are private lenders who make loans available to international students, but most require a US citizen to co-sign. Find a list of suggested lenders here.

Work Study

Do I have to accept Federal Work Study? How does it work? Will it be paid towards the bill? How do I find a job? Should I wait until I know my class schedule to look for a job?

If you were eligible for work study, it was included in your financial aid notification. You are not required to accept it. You will need to find an eligible position and then the money will be paid out to you like a regular salary subject to taxes (it is not applied to your bill). We recommend you start searching for positions and then you can work out the specific schedule after you are hired. More info, including how to search for positions, is here.

Billing & Payment

The SIPA Financial Aid Office does not charge tuition or collect payment. The office responsible for these procedures is the Student Financial Services Office. Find more information here; SFS can be reached at 212-854-4400.

When will I receive my first bill?

The fall statement will be issued August 13th and due September 14th. The full schedule is available here.

What happens with the admission deposit I paid?

It will be applied towards the charges for the first semester you are enrolled and you will see the credit on Student Services Online (SSOL) when you review your student account.

Is there a payment plan?

Yes. Information on the monthly payment plan is available here.

Can I wire money from a foreign bank to pay my bill?

Yes. Please click here for more information.

Can I waive the health insurance and health services fee?

Domestic full-time students can waive coverage if they have alternate coverage that meets the criteria; see here. The waiver for the fall term is due September 30th. Students cannot waive the Health Services Fee.

If I’m living in Columbia housing, will my rent be on the bill?

Most students in University housing will see their room charges on their bills.

My employer/sponsor is going to pay my bill and needs to receive an invoice from Columbia. What do I do?  

You will need to set up third-party billing. Please also email our office with a copy of your sponsorship letter.

I’m receiving an external scholarship. Do I notify you? Where can they send the payment?

Please email our office the details. They can mail the check to:
Attn: Payments & Deposits Office
Student Financial Services
205 Kent Hall
1140 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Other Helpful Resources at Columbia University:

International Students & Scholars Office

Office of Military and Veterans Affairs

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   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, which is linked from

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


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.


Money for your studies

If you’re interested in pursuing a degree at SIPA, don’t let financial concerns be an obstacle to your goals.  The majority of SIPA students receive some type of financial assistance, including institutionally-funded Fellowships and Scholarships, student loans, and on-campus Work Study jobs.  Other students are supported by their employers or other third parties…so for many of our students, there are a number of financing options available.


SIPA fellowships provide students with varying combinations of tuition assistance (much like a grant or scholarship), stipends for living expenses, and part-time jobs on campus.  Fellowships are merit-based and competitive, and all you need to do is complete the Fellowship section of the SIPA Application for Admission and you’ll be considered (some programs have additional requirements, which are identified on the application).   If you haven’t completed your application yet, visit the SIPA Admissions page and click on either “Online Application” or “Download Application” to review; essays will be required, so it’s time to write!   If you are awarded a Fellowship, you must enroll for a full-time course load.

Whether you’re a domestic or international student, you can apply for a SIPA Fellowship or Scholarship.  For more information on these awards, click here.

Student Loans

Many long-term financing options are available in the form of loans from the Federal government and various private sources (the Federal loans typically offer better rates and terms).  Most loans are only available to domestic students.  To be considered, domestic students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, at  The information collected on the FAFSA is used by Financial Aid staff to determine your eligibility for various types of loans.  We will notify you about what types of Federal student loans you qualify for and the amount.

There are also privately funded student loans available to use to supplement Federal student loans or in place of Federal loans for students who don’t qualify (including some for international students, with co-borrowers).  Most are credit-based.  For more information on private loans, click here.

Work-Study Employment

If you’re a domestic student, you might also qualify for a part-time position on campus under the Federal Work-Study program.  Click here for more information.


You’ll probably have questions about financing your education along the way.  The Financial Aid Office is available to assist you in any way we can.  Please feel free to contact us at or 212-854-6216.

"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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