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SIPA & Columbia University Funding

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 for students in our two-year programs are renewable and awarded at the time of admission. Assistantships are available for second year students only; those positions are compensated in the form of salary.


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 offered to admitted applicants in the two-year full-time programs are renewable 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. 

    Scholarships are also available for students in the 12-month MPA-EPM and MPA-ESP programs, as well as the Executive MPA program; those funding decisions are made by the programs themselves.

    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.

  • SIPA 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.

    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) and enrolled full-time to be eligible; such standing does not, however, guarantee selection. 

    Students with Assistantships are paid twice monthly, on the University's normal payroll schedule.  For more information about SIPA Assistantships, including the application process, job descriptions, salaries and job placements, please click here for information provided by the Office of Student Affairs.

  • 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;
    • 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 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.

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 deadline for the 2022/23 academic year was June 15, and the application is no longer available.  Any eligible students who are admitted after the deadline may be put on a wait list in the event Yellow Ribbon funding becomes available at a later date; please contact the Office of Financial Aid if you may be eligible but were admitted later.