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.   SIPA scholarship awards are merit-based, and 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.

Beginning with students entering in Spring 2017 or later, SIPA is implementing a new process for allocating scholarships. This also applies to students who initially enrolled prior to Spring 2017, but have not been enrolled continuously and fulltime, and who will be in their second year in 2018-19 or later.

In the past, a scholarship-like tuition credit from SIPA was “bundled” with salary payments for Teaching Assistant (TA), Reader, Program Assistant-faculty, Program Assistant-administrative (PA), and Course Assistant (CA) positions. This put significant pressure on the assistantship allocation process and led to concerns from students, faculty, and staff. Responding to these concerns, the new process “unbundles” the tuition credit from the salary support for TA, Reader, PA, and CA.

Scholarship offers made at the time of the admission offer have been increased. It is important to emphasize that the overall level of student aid did not change. What changed are the timing of fellowship decisions, the salaries associated with different positions, and some aspects of the process for deciding who is offered financial aid. These changes will provide students with greater certainty at the time of admission about the level of fellowship support they will receive, and improve their ability to plan for financing their SIPA education.

Students are selected for assistantships (TA, Reader, PA, and CA) 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. Please note that in all cases, salary is potentially taxable income.

As originally announced in August 2016, beginning with students who apply to enter the two-year MIA and MPA programs in January 2017 (or students who were initially enrolled prior to January 2017, but have not been enrolled continuously and full-time and who will be in their second year in 2018-19 or later), scholarship support will no longer be bundled with salary payments for TA, Reader-faculty, Reader-administration, PA and Course Assistant positions in students’ second year. Instead, the total amount of scholarship support awarded at admissions will be increased. Again, it is important to note that the total level of student aid will remain unchanged. The key change is that scholarship support will be offered at the time of admission, rather than bundled with assistantship positions. Beginning in 2018-19, assistantship salaries per semester will be as follows:

Teaching Assistant (TA): $12,000;

Reader, Program Assistant-faculty, Program Assistant-administrative (PA): $6,000

Course Assistant (CA): $3,000

               - Click here for the original August 2016 announcement regarding changes to assistantship compensation.

The application process for assistantships will remain the same in future years. Students who entered in Fall 2016 or earlier who take a leave of absence and do not remain continuously enrolled may still be enrolled in 2018-19 or later. Assistantship compensation for these students in 2018-19 or later will be at the new levels.


Please note that all scholarship recipients must be meeting SIPA's standards for satisfactory academic progress in order to be renewed, and all applicants for assistantships must meet these standards as well; a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0, satisfactory completion of a minimum of 2/3 of all credits attempted, and 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). More details about the SIPA satisfactory academic progress and other academic policies can be found at http://bulletin.columbia.edu/sipa/academic-policies/grading-system-academic-progress/index.html.

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 SourcE
April International Fellows Program Grants
October and February The Earth Institute
November Center for Public Research and Leadership >
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 The Middle East Institute
January Lemann Foundation Interschool Fellowship
May Center for Development Economics and Policy
Varies Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Varies 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.