Emergency Aid Parameters: Including COVID-19

  • Awards may be given in the form of stipends (direct payments to students) or tuition credits of up to $5,000.  There is a lifetime maximum award limit of $10,000. 
  • Processing of stipends typically takes 3-5 business days after initially posted, and with direct deposit (highly recommended), timing also depends on procedures at the student’s bank.  Setting up a direct deposit account is not required, but is strongly encouraged to expedite the delivery of funds (otherwise stipends or refunds are disbursed as a hard copy check, sent through the US mail).
  • Please be aware that stipends are potentially taxable income, and stipends to some international students will have 14 percent withheld.  See https://sfs.columbia.edu/tax-info and https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970 for additional information.
  • Tuition grants are typically credited to students’ accounts 24-48 hours from the time they are initially posted. Tuition grants are, in most cases, not taxable.
  • Decisions are final; not subject to appeal.

Student Eligibility Requirements

  • Currently in residence at SIPA, enrolled in a SIPA degree program at Columbia University in New York City, and in good academic standing.
  • Facing unanticipated and unforeseeable financial hardship resulting from a legitimate emergency/catastrophic event, including COVID-19.
  • Exhausted all other financial resources, including loans. US citizens or permanent residents must have a completed FAFSA for the current academic year on file with the Office of Financial Aid.
  • Able to provide a clear and credible plan for meeting expenses for the remainder of your enrollment.
  • Ready to submit supporting documentation (translated to English, if applicable).

Emergency Aid Application

  • If you meet all the requirements stated above, fill out the Student Application for Emergency Relief (SAFER).  You will be directed to the same application portal used to apply to SIPA.  Use your application credentials and click on forgot password, if necessary.  You can reach out to our office if you have any questions.
  • If you do not meet all the requirements stated above, contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss financing options.  For budgeting assistance, we recommend reviewing the free resources available on iGrad.

Columbia University Student Services

SIPA students have access to a variety of services/assistance offered by Columbia University.


The University provides information regarding the impact of COVID on campus life, services and facilities, along with healthcare information, at https://covid19.columbia.edu/

Columbia Health

The food pantry at columbia

The Food Pantry at Columbia is a student-run, student-managed initiative that is open to all students. Any student who has any level of food insecurity can reach out to The Food Pantry to get a disbursement containing non-perishable food such as canned-meat, canned vegetables, canned fruit, cold and hot cereal, and vegetarian options. Any information shared with The Food Pantry will remain in strict confidence.

Columbia Transportation

Columbia University Shuttle Routes provide services across campuses Monday through Friday and during evening hours.  Download the Passio Go! App.

Software Recovery from CUIT

PhoneHome is software that can help recover a lost or stolen computer. Columbia University has purchased a site license for PC and MacPhoneHome from Brigadoon Security Group.

Columbia Off-Campus Housing Apartment Database

Columbia's Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA) office assists Columbia students and affiliates in their search for rental housing in the metropolitan area. OCHA manages a database known as the Housing Registry which includes available rooms and apartments in non-Columbia-owned buildings and sublets of units in Columbia-managed housing.

SIPA Career Services – Internship Program and Work-Study

Get more information on the SIPA Internship Program, internship waiver requests, international student work authorization, SIPA summer internship funding opportunities, and the Federal Work-Study program.

Community Resources

The Office of Financial Aid cannot assist in applying for these benefits and we have no additional information available.  We will continue to provide appropriate financial resources for students as they become available.

Unemployment assistance

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance may be available from your state.  For more information, here is an article providing some background information.  Here is a link to NY: https://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/pdfs/pua-factsheet.pdf  

supplemental nutrition assistance program (snap) for families

To get SNAP benefits, you must apply in the state in which you currently live and you must meet certain requirements, including resource and income limits.