Direct funding at SIPA – fellowships, scholarships, and assistantships – is competitive and not offered to all admitted applicants, but we encourage everyone to apply for this funding. Awards to first-year students are in the form of fellowships and scholarships, and they are only offered to a limited number of candidates for admission.

Most scholarships are renewable and awarded at the time of admission. Assistantships are available for second year students only; that compensation is in the form of salary.

SIPA Fellowships

There are two types of awards often referred to as Fellowships: Scholarships, which are credited towards tuition and do not require a work commitment; and Assistantships, which include a work commitment and a salary (see below for salary ranges).


SIPA scholarships are open to all incoming applicants regardless of citizenship.  SIPA scholarship awards are based on a combination of merit and financial need, and SIPA considers all admitted applicants for all applicable scholarships at the time of admission, provided that they indicate on their application for admission that they want to be considered for funding. The only requirement for most awards is to complete and submit the application for admission and all supporting materials by the appropriate deadline. 

SIPA’s funding resources are limited, and awards are competitive.  Although all admitted students are meritorious, SIPA cannot fund all students, and almost all awards cover only a portion of costs.

Most scholarships are two-year awards that are renewed so long as the recipient meets academic standards described in the initial notification of the award (and see Academic Requirements for Financial Aid below).  The amount and duration of all awards is stated in the initial offer of funding. Unless otherwise noted, awards are made for the full year and divided into equal halves per semester.  Those students who are awarded a two-year, renewable scholarship need not reapply for that specific award, but may apply for assistantships for their second year. When scholarships are made available for continuing students for their second year of study, or any time after admission, the Office of Financial Aid will notify potentially eligible students of the application procedure and deadline. But almost all SIPA scholarships are made at the time of admission, and there are typically no additional scholarships to apply for in subsequent terms.

SIPA’s funding is made available from a number of sources, including gifts from many generous donors who want to help SIPA students succeed. These gifts and endowed funds help SIPA fund many of our awards. Some students’ fellowships may be later designated with the name of a donor who helped make their award possible, at which time the recipient may be asked to provide additional information about themselves to share with the donor.


Assistantships are only available to second year students.  Students who wish to be considered for these positions must submit the Assistantship application to the Office of Student Affairs by the deadline, which is during the prior spring semester.  An Assistantship information session is held early each spring semester, after which the application becomes available. Compensation for Assistantships is in the form of salary, which is potentially taxable income.

Students are selected for assistantships (Teaching Assistant, Reader, Program Assistant, and Student Assistant) on the basis of their ability to perform the duties of the positions, which may include teaching, research, computing support, or other tasks. Appointments may be for one or two semesters. All applicants must be in good academic standing (3.0 cumulative GPA or higher) to be eligible to apply; good academic standing does not, however, guarantee selection. 

Assistantship salaries per semester are as follows.  Students with assistantships are paid twice monthly, on the University's normal payroll schedule.

  • Teaching Assistant (TA): $12,000;
  • Reader, Program Assistant (PA): $6,000
  • Student Assistant (SA): $3,000


For more information about SIPA Assistantships, including the application process, job descriptions, and job placements, please click here.

Academic Requirements for Financial Aid

All scholarship recipients must meet SIPA's standards for satisfactory academic progress in order to be renewed.  All applicants for assistantships, most student loans, and work study must meet these standards as well:

  • a cumulative grade point average in courses that meet degree requirements of at least 3.0;
  • satisfactory completion of a minimum of 2/3 of all credits attempted;
  • a pace for completion of the degree in no more than 150 percent of the published time frame normally required (for example, no more than 3 years for a 2 year program);
  • academic progress is reviewed on an annual basis;
  • Following the spring 2020 semester of mandated pass/fail grading in which a grade of "pass" has no bearing on a cumulative GPA, all students with a prior cumulative GPA of at least 2.9 plus all passing grades in the spring will be considered to be making satisfactory academic progress.  Students who began their studies in spring 2020 must have at least a 2.9 cumulative GPA in the fall 2020 term;

  • Financial aid applicants not meeting these standards typically have the right to appeal, and the Office of Financial Aid will provide information on that process when applicable.

Funding from Columbia University

There are other sources of funding available to students across various schools at Columbia University for which SIPA students may apply.  In addition to those listed from the various links below, the SIPA Financial Aid Office will notify students when other University-sponsored funding opportunities arise.  Please note that some of these funding opportunities are specialized, often by field of study or professional interest, and not applicable to all students.

Please note that programs have deadlines and do not necessarily accept applications year-round.  Some of these resources may be for research or internship funding, not necessarily for tuition assistance.

Application Deadline funding SourcE
April International Fellows Program Grants
TBD The Earth Institute
Varies Center for Public Research and Leadership >
February Harriman Institute Fellowships
March Weatherhead East Asia Institute Fellowships and Grants
February Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
Varies Institute of Latin American Studies
March The Middle East Institute
January SIPA Lemann Fellowship
March Center for Development Economics and Policy
Varies Institute for the Study of Human Rights
June Columbia University Interschool Fellowships
TBD Columbia Entrepreneurship Design Fellows Program
Varies Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students


The Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program is an initiative authorized by the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (the Post-9/11 GI Bill ® - GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by the VA is available at the official US government website.  Educational institutions provide eligible student veterans with a partial tuition waiver or grant, which is matched by the US Department of Veteran Affairs.  This program supplements the base educational benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, you must be a US veteran eligible for the maximum level (100%) of benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill according to your VA Certificate of Eligibility.  If you are a veteran of the US Armed Forces and would like to learn more about eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon program, please visit the GI Bill website.

SIPA is committed to honoring those who have served our country by being one of seventeen schools at Columbia University participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program. SIPA will make every attempt to fund every eligible candidate but cannot guarantee that, so funding will be on a first come, first served basis.  Admitted applicants who identify as eligible for Yellow Ribbon will be notified of the application availability; recipients need not reapply for subsequent years. Award amounts are determined and impacted by:

  • available budgeting,
  • number of eligible students enrolling,
  • individual students' enrollment status, and
  • an individual's receipt of other financial aid.


The Yellow Ribbon Scholarship application will open for fall 2021 applicants in spring 2021, with a deadline typically on or about June 1.  If you receive a SIPA Yellow Ribbon scholarship, your award will be renewed as long as you are enrolled full-time (EMPA recipients may be part-time) and you are meeting academic standards.  You do not need to re-apply.


Funding and Taxes

All grant aid (scholarships, fellowships) and any amounts received representing payments for teaching and research, which exceed the cost of tuition and required fees, books, and related classroom expenses are potentially subject to US income tax. Compliance with US income tax laws requires that in order to receive funding from the University (fellowship or teaching or research appointment), the student's record (registration and bills) must reflect a US Social Security number. A limited amount of aid is disbursed in the form of a stipend paid directly to the student instead of being credited to their account.  There will be no taxes withheld from such stipends paid to US citizens or permanent residents, but taxes will be deducted from stipend payments made to most international students. The student is responsible for accurately reporting stipend amounts on federal and/or state income tax returns and for making tax payments if appropriate.   

Like all earnings from employment, the salary received for assistantships or Work Study is potentially taxable.

All students who receive a fellowship stipend (an award paid directly to the student rather than being credited towards tuition charges) and/or assistantship salary should file a US income tax return for each calendar year. The SIPA Financial Aid Office cannot offer tax assistance or advice. We suggest that you consult a tax professional for further information or assistance (international students may want to contact their consulate).  For additional information on the taxability of various types of financial aid, see the IRS Publication 970.