SIPA Students

Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions

Browse the topics below for more information and frequently asked questions about SIPA’s financial aid process.

Find answers to some frequently asked questions about:

Financial Aid

  • Please keep in mind financial aid cannot be used to pay for deposits.


  • We will send out financial aid information in mid-March.  If you receive funding from SIPA, you will be notified by the admissions team via email.  If not, then you will not receive a notification.  Our funding is limited and competitive, so most students pay for their educational expenses through a combination of savings, external funding, loans and student employment.

  • Columbia's FAFSA school code is 002707.

  • Admitted students should log into SSOL ( then click on “13. Update SSN/TIN”. You will then be prompted to enter the SSN; updating the student record. Please allow 5-7 business days for the account to be updated.

  • SIPA scholarships can only be deferred from the fall to the spring semester that immediately follows.  Scholarships will not carry over for deferred candidates, who have deferred from one academic year to another (example: deferring from fall 2024 or spring 2025 to fall 2025). If you defer your admission from one academic year to another academic year, you will receive full consideration for funding along with the rest of the cohort with whom you will be entering SIPA, but funding cannot be guaranteed

    *Note: If you are admitted to the International Fellows Program Foreign Service Fellowship Program, please notify our office if you have been approved by the program to take a gap year.

  • Please visit our tuition and fees homepage, this will provide information on your total cost of attendance including both direct and indirect costs:


  • SIPA scholarship awards are based on a combination of merit and financial need. 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.


  • For school based funding students do not need to reapply each year.

    For federal loan funding and work study eligibility domestic students would need to submit a FAFSA for each academic year, to be reviewed for federal financial aid eligibility.


  • No, SIPA does not match or reconsider financial aid packages based on offers from other schools.

  • You will be evaluated for funding, as long as you indicate on your SIPA application for admission that you want to be considered for funding. The only requirement for awards is to complete and submit the application for admission, and all supporting materials if requested by the appropriate deadline. We recommend domestic students complete a FAFSA.

  • Assistantships are only available to second year students in the full-time two-year degree programs.  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.

  • For more information on outside funding resources, go here.

    For admitted students who have committed, you may also create a free iGrad account, a financial wellness platform available to all Columbia students, which includes a robust scholarship engine. You may create your account at


  • Both a fellowship and a scholarship are considered grants, and sometimes the terms may be used interchangeably. 

  • Although all admitted students are meritorious, SIPA cannot fund all students, and almost all awards cover only a portion of costs. There are no full ride scholarships at SIPA. The grants vary for each student; however the awards are on average about one half of tuition costs (amounts can sometimes be lesser/higher in certain circumstances).

  • Almost all SIPA scholarships are made at the time of admission, and there are typically no additional scholarships to apply for in subsequent terms. 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. 

  • SIPA has compiled a list of external scholarships, fellowships and external resources that you can review. We have compiled a list of these resources to assist you in your search: External Funding Resources

    In addition, you should also think of any organizations to which you belong that might have aid funds available such as: religious organizations, fraternal organizations, clubs, athletics, veteran groups, ethnic groups, unions, employers, rotary clubs, etc.

  • The total aid (including outside aid) cannot exceed the total cost of attendance (COA). In instances when receiving outside aid results in more total aid than the COA, loans and/or work study are first replaced. Following the reduction of loans and/or work study, if the total aid continues to exceed the total cost of attendance SIPA Scholarships are the next to be replaced. In most cases it is not necessary to reduce a SIPA Scholarship.


  • Once the semester begins, the Office of the Registrar submits a file showing all enrolled students at the University to an entity called the National Student Clearinghouse.  All student loan servicers access this to confirm the enrollment status of all borrowers and adjust borrowers’ repayment statuses accordingly. 

    The enrollment feed is sent shortly after the add/drop period at the start of each term. 

    If your lender does not work with the National Student Loan Clearinghouse or if you prefer to manage this process on your own you can request a Certificate of enrollment from the Registrar’s Office via Student Services Online, which you can forward to your lender.



  • No, the school does not offer institutional loan funding.


  • For domestic students to be considered for federal direct loan funding, you will need to submit a FAFSA for the current aid year. Private loans are also an option as well.

  • In regards to private loan lenders for International students check out our full listing of lenders here:

  • We have an internal Graduate Plus loan request form. This form is made available to all students after you have been notified of a financial aid package. You will not be able to apply for the Graduate Plus loan through the Department of Education website.

    If you are applying for the Graduate PLUS loan, you will need to complete the SIPA Graduate PLUS Loan Request Form to initiate each application (every time you apply). You will find the link to this form on the Net Partner portal, on the Documents and Messages tab, under the heading "Graduate PLUS Application Instructions."

  • You should certainly research your alternative loan options. We have also compiled a Suggested Lender List for both domestic and international students that you may find useful in your research.

    When trying to figure out how expensive a loan program is, there are three criteria to look at: (1) interest rates, (2) fees charged for guarantee/origination, and (3) frequency of interest capitalization.

    Pursuing a private loan is a personal decision and we cannot recommend one loan type over another, it is best to consider your personal risk tolerance when making this choice. 

    However, since federal education loans may be less expensive and/or offer better terms than private student loans (such as flexible repayment plans and loan forgiveness options), you should consider exhausting your eligibility for federal student loans before applying for private student loans.

    Feel free to book an appointment with our office to discuss your options in detail.

  • Guarantee fees are the lender's insurance against your defaulting on the loan, and origination fees are charged for processing the loan. Fees that are charged up front usually come right out of your loan disbursements, so you will net less money than you applied for. Some lenders also add on an additional guarantee fee right at the time you go into repayment. When looking at how much a loan program charges in fees, make sure that you add up both the fees charged initially at disbursement, and any fees charged at the time you go into repayment, so that you know the total amount of fees you can be charged.

  • This resource outlines the distinctions between federal and private loans: Federal vs. Private Loans

  • International students may borrow from lenders in the US, and most require borrowers to have a US citizen who can co-sign the loan for them.  However, there are no-cosigner loan options available through Prodigy Finance or MPower Financing. To apply, please visit their website.

    Many international students also rely on family funds, personal savings, government, or company sponsorships, and/or loans secured in their home countries. International students should review our additional resources page, separated by country, for additional external assistance.

  • In determining the budget, the University applies a conservative and modest estimate of living expenses to all students. Students who face higher costs due to special and unusual circumstances may request a budget increase by submitting a formal appeal along with appropriate documentation. If approved, the budget increase would allow students to borrow additional loan funds, subject to lender or Department of Education approval.

  • This may depend on the type of loans and the grace periods of these loans. If you take a leave of absence, you should make an appointment to see us for individual counseling. You may need to complete paperwork and consider your options based on the length of your leave.

  • Absolutely, borrowing loans in your second year is not contingent upon borrowing in your first year. Loan application instructions will be sent to the rising second year students in the late Spring.

  • Absolutely, students are eligible to apply for loans to cover the financial aid budget minus any sponsorship. Our financial aid budget includes an allocation for living and travel expenses.

  • There are multiple strategies for loan repayment. We suggest that students review the Student Loan Repayment section of our website for updated repayment information.

Billing & Refunds

  • Bills at Columbia are only sent online and are sent by Student Financial Services (not the SIPA Office of Financial Aid). Students will receive an e-mail notification when a new E-Bill is generated. To do this, the student should log into Student Services Online (SSOL), click on Account, select the View E-Bill and Pay by E-Check option, and then go to the Authorize Payers, and set up an account for each person he/she wishes to receive the bill.

    Please note that there are two different ways in which to view the account. The first is the official E-Bill. The E-Bill is a monthly snapshot of the account balance at a given time, and will not update until a new E-Bill is generated. The second is the Recent Activity section. This section is updated daily, and will reflect the most current account balance.



  • Yes, students may finance all or a portion of the bill through either a 5 month (one semester’s bill) or 10 month payment plan (full academic year). More information on the payment plan is available on Student Financial Services' website:

  • Financial Aid is disbursed a week prior to the start of the semester or when the student registers, whichever happens later.

    Please be aware that financial aid documents that are missing from your financial aid file will prevent the disbursement of your aid.  We will notify you regarding necessary documents that are still outstanding. Please make certain to arrange for their prompt submission in order to avoid delays in the disbursement of your aid.

    If the amount of financial aid that is disbursed to your student account (applied to your Columbia University bill) exceeds the amount owed, Student Financial Services (SFS – billing office) will issue a refund to you.

    For general inquiries about refunds, please contact the Student Service Center at [email protected].

  • Please make sure you set up direct deposit via SSOL to receive your refund as fast as possible:

  • Our colleagues at Student Financial Services (SFS) handle functions such as billing, collecting payments and posting charges on student accounts for all students throughout the University. Additional details and contact information can be found on SFS’s website (


  • If you submit your FAFSA for this aid year, you might qualify for work-study funds on your Award offer. If you accept eligible work study funds via netpartner, you can explore and apply for work-study positions at Columbia. Columbia's work-study office oversees the hiring process. For more information about the program, click this link:

  • Please contact the SIPA Office of Financial Aid via email [email protected] we can reset your password, and unlock your account.

  • As per NY State law, all full-time students (12 credits or more) will automatically be charged for health insurance. 

    However, in some instances, Health Insurance may be able to be waived via the Columbia Health office.

    In order to request a waiver from mandatory enrollment in the Columbia Plan, students must have alternate coverage that meets the University requirements. Please review the following website for more information: 

    For additional questions on health insurance please contact the Columbia Health office directly. Email your questions to [email protected].


  • The Columbia Health and Related Services Fee is paid by all students (including GPPN students) for access to the health and well-being resources, programs, and services provided by Columbia Health and our partners. This mandatory, non-refundable fee cannot be waived and is not pro-rated. 

    Please review the following website for more information:


  • 1098-T forms are used by higher education institutions to provide information that will assist eligible students or parents with filing for educational tax credits on a federal tax return. Find out if you're eligible to get the 1098-T form here: Tax Information | Student Financial Services (

  • Yes, if you have borrowed federal loans during your program you must complete the Federal Exit Counseling.

Admissions FAQs

Find answers to commonly asked questions regarding our Admissions Policies, Transcripts/Recommendation Letters, Standardized Tests, Applicant Profile, and the Admissions process by exploring the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page of the Admissions Office.

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