Learn about the types of financial aid in the form of scholarships, fellowships and assistantships available to SIPA students, both from SIPA directly and other funds made available University-wide.

SIPA Fellowships

There are two types of awards often referred to as Fellowships: Assistantships, which consist of various combinations of tuition credit (which works like a scholarship), a work commitment and accompanying salary; and Scholarships, which are credited towards tuition and do not require a work commitment. 


SIPA scholarships are open to all applicants regardless of citizenship.  All SIPA awards are merit-based; financial need is not a factor, and the FAFSA is not required nor used in the determination of scholarships or assistantships.  SIPA considers all admitted applicants for all applicable scholarships. The only requirement for most awards is to complete and submit the admissions application 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.  The amount and duration of all awards is stated in the offer of admission.  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.

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.


Assistantships are only available to second year students.  Students who wish to be considered for second year funding must submit the Assistantship application by the deadline.

Assistantship positions include an employment commitment and pay a combination of tuition credits (a scholarship) and a salary.  Dollar values of assistantship positions currently include $20,000 per semester for teaching assistants, $10,500 per semester for readers or program assistants, and $6,000 per semester for course assistants.  Students are selected on the basis of their academic and professional credentials, appointments may be for one or two semesters, and applicants must meet academic standards that will be described in the application process (a student's GPA alone does not guarantee funding). Assistantships are only available to second year students.  Beginning with the fall 2018 semester, SIPA plans to change the compensation for assistantships to salary only; exact dollar amounts are to be determined.  Please see this announcement about future changes in the SIPA scholarship and assistantship awarding process.

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 programs have specific deadlines and do not necessarily accept applications year round.  Some of these resources are for research or internship funding, not necessarily for tuition assistance.

Application Deadline funding Sourc
April International Fellows Program Grants
October and February The Earth Institute
no current call for applications Center for International Conflict Resolution Fellowship
February Harriman Institute Fellowships
February Weatherhead East Asia Institute Fellowships and Grants
February Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
Varies Institute for Latin American Studies
March, no funding was available in 2015 The Middle East Institute
January Lemann Foundation Interschool Fellowship
May Center for Development Economics and Policy
  Institute for the Study of Human Rights
  European Institute


Columbia University Interschool Fellowships
2017/18 application


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 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill) in which educational institutions provide eligible student veterans with a partial tuition waiver or grant 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 these benefits, please visit the GI Bill website at www.gibill.va.gov

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; continuing students need not reapply.  Award amounts are determined and impacted by available budgeting, the number of eligible students enrolling, individual students' enrollment status, and the receipt of other aid and benefits. 

 SIPA Yellow Ribbon Scholarship - 2017/18

Yellow Ribbon statistics:

  • In 2016/17, as of 9/19/16, 22 SIPA students are receiving Yellow Ribbon Scholarship ranging from $8,000 to $9,600.
  • In 2015/16, 21 SIPA students received Yellow Ribbon Scholarships ranging from $2,264 to $10,000.
  • In 2014/15, 19 SIPA students received Yellow Ribbon Scholarships ranging from $1,642 to $10,000.

This data reflects only those students enrolled full-time in two-year programs.  Like all SIPA scholarships offered to full-time students, Yellow Ribbon awards made to full-time students are limited to four semesters of study, or the normal duration of the program, whichever is less.

Executive MPA (EMPA) Yellow Ribbon statistics:

  • In 2016/17, as of 10/3/16, 3 EMPA students are receiving Yellow Ribbon Scholarships for $2,500 each.
  • In 2015/16, 1 EMPA student received a Yellow Ribbon Scholarship of $6,478.
  • In 2014/15, 2 EMPA students received Yellow Ribbon Scholarships of $962 and $1,296, respectively.

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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 and for making tax payments if appropriate.   

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

All students who receive a fellowship stipend and/or assistantship salary should file a U.S. income tax return for each calendar year. Receipts for required books and supplies should be kept to justify appropriate deductions on the tax return. 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 at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/index.html.