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Emergency Aid

In cases of sudden, unanticipated and unforeseeable financial hardship, enrolled students may be eligible to apply for emergency aid. Students may apply after they have exhausted all other financial possibilities. Emergency aid is reliant on availability of funds; eligibility to apply does not guarantee an award, and applicants may be approved for less than the full amount requested.

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.  Applications are only accepted during the summer if you are enrolled in the summer.
  • Facing a sudden, unanticipated and unforeseeable financial hardship resulting from a legitimate emergency/catastrophic event.
  • Exhausted all other financial resources, including loans to a reasonable extent if eligible. 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 if requested (translated into English, if applicable).

Emergency Aid Parameters

  • Awards may be requested in the form of stipends (direct payments to students) or tuition credits.  There is a lifetime maximum award limit of $10,000. Please note that stipends are potentially taxable income as per federal law; some international students may see a 14% tax deducted from their disbursement.
  • Award decisions are typically made and communicated in about one week, but please allow for flexibility during peak seasons.
  • Processing of stipends typically takes 3-5 business days after initially posted, and with direct deposit, timing also depends on procedures at the student’s bank.  Setting up a direct deposit account is strongly encouraged to expedite the delivery of funds; otherwise stipends are disbursed as a hard copy check, sent through the US mail.
  • Tuition grants are typically credited to students’ accounts 24-48 hours from the time they are initially posted. 
  • Decisions by the Emergency Aid Committee are final.

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.
  • The application includes a space to provide a narrative and will ask you for information about your financial plan for your remaining time at SIPA.  You may upload any documentation you feel is helpful to submit with the application, including additional narrative information if you find the space provided in the application is not sufficient.
  • 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 resources available on iGrad.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding (HEERF)

The Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) were provided by the federal government and administered through the SIPA Office of Financial Aid to students with financial emergencies, primarily as the result of the COVID pandemic.  All HEERF resources have been exhausted and we do not anticipate any more funding from that program. 

Additional information regarding HEERF and the CARES Act funding, including required institutional disclosures, may be found here.

Columbia University Student Services

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

Community Resources

Please note that if potentially eligible, a student applies for these public benefits directly to the appropriate agency; there is no process to go through at Columbia University or SIPA.

  • Unemployment Assistance may be available from the state in which you last worked shortly after losing a job.  For information on benefits and the application process in New York, click here.  Processes and eligibility criteria can vary from state to state.  Information is generally available from a state's Department of Labor.

  • 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.  Recent temporary guidance from the US Departments of Education and Agriculture indicates that students enrolled on at least a half-time basis (6 credits per semester) may qualify if a completed FAFSA indicates an Estimated Family Contribution (end result of the formula that incorporates a student's FAFSA data) of zero, or if the student qualifies for Work Study (even if you are not currently participating in Work Study).  Contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have questions about these criteria or to request verifying documentation; other eligibility requirements unrelated to financial aid apply.  Additional information about student SNAP eligibility can be found here, and you can also learn more about contact information in your state by reviewing this SNAP State Directory of Resources.