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Financing Your Education

hellojanhellojan Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
The admitted folks will, within a few weeks, be receiving financial aid packages and requests for phone appointments with Mr. William "Skip" Bailey - our director of financial aid. It's good to start to think about how you plan to finance your education and your time in New York City.

I know the latter seems more difficult to estimate. So, I thought I'd start this thread to address some costs that you, as future New Yorkers and/or GSers, should anticipate. First, in terms of financial aid, many of you will likely have to take out private loans to meet unment need in your aid packages. There are a couple of rules of thumb that I like to offer here. Take them as you will.

1. Plan on keep your total student loan debt number below your projected, first year earnings post-Columbia. Remember to be conservative in your compensation estimates. [If you think you're going to make $40k out of school, don't borrow more than $40k total. This is a little trick to help ensure your debt is serviceable in a ten year period.]

2. Don't borrow money for living expenses. I know, I know. But, you're going to be kicking yourself if, ten years from now, you're writing checks to Sallie Mae or Wells Fargo for a meal plan you enjoyed ages ago. The same goes for rent. If you're borrowing money for rent, you're going to be living differently in the future because of it.

Either live like a student now or later. That's an axiomatic truth.


Last, here's a link to a very useful site:

Debt / salary wizard
Post edited by hellojan on
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Replies to: Financing Your Education

  • hellojanhellojan Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
    Buses & Subway:

    Generally, a ride is $2.25 on either. You can purchase MetroCards in Lerner Hall for a tiny discount. Of course, any discount is good, right?

    Street food:

    It's some of my favorite food and certainly some of the cheapest. I'm talking a nice hot falafel sandwich and free bottled water for $3. If you're working two jobs and taking 15 credits, like me, you'll come to love and appreciate your regular halal cart guy.

    Books:

    Columbia doesn't have a text book culture. For some classes, like seminars, you can expect to buy fifteen to twenty books. But, they might all be paperbacks that you can get on Amazon for a buck a piece. If you buy well in advance, you can avoid paying full price.

    Library books:

    There'll be times when you've taken books out of the library. You'll be happily working on your term paper when you'll get a curt email announcing that your book or books have been recalled. This means that, for every day beyond the recall date that you keep the books, you'll be charged a dollar.

    Books from the reserve desk are yours for an hour. That's it. After that it's a buck an hour.



    Feel free to keep adding to the list, people.
  • chasethecarrotchasethecarrot Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    Wow. I've already said it on here a few times, but I'm a mom living in extreme poverty, and the only way I'll be able to act on my acceptance to Columbia is to receive some hefty financial aid. I'm still waiting on my award letter, so we'll just have to see, but I'm not sure I understand what you mean by not taking out loans to pay for living expenses- unless it's somehow covered by my aid, I will HAVE to take out loans for living expenses. Furthermore, I'm now wondering how on earth I'm going to pay any kind of deposit, etc. to even get INTO a place when I initially arrive in New York, since my loans won't actually come into my hands until sometime after that arrival... am I just an idiot, completely screwed, and somehow didn't realize it until now? You can be harsh, I can handle it, sigh...
  • hellojanhellojan Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
    Congrats on your acceptance!

    My advice, as it's worked for me, is by no means the only way to do things. Think proactively and I'm sure you'll find your way, too.

    I only meant that, if you can stomach the idea, getting a job or two while you're going to school will save you a ton of money in the long run. A ton.

    GS financial aid packages typically cover a good portion of tuition and fees. New students, with some really cool exceptions, are expected to secure funding for the difference. Everything else is usually up to you.
  • hellojanhellojan Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
    As far as living situation, carrot, there are a few good threads about moving to New York. Check 'em out and post any specific questions you may have.
  • chasethecarrotchasethecarrot Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    Sounds good, thanks. I'll call the financial aid department on Monday to (hopefully) get some help with figuring out the specifics of my unique situation, and I'll go check out the threads you suggested. I appreciate the direction. :) I know what you mean about the loan thing, though; I know a few people who are taking out crazy amounts of loans in my community college, lol, and they're KIDS, with no jobs or any other responsibilities besides school! They're definitely making mistakes that will cost them later, and I'm thinking that's pretty much what you were aiming at. I have to keep in mind that my situation is VERY different from most- taking a full course load, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, volunteering in the community, raising kids, and keeping a clean house, making healthy meals, etc., just doesn't leave enough hours in the day to hold down a job as well. Sometimes it doesn't leave enough time in the day to sleep....
    I'm afraid that with the additional work I expect to encounter at such an academically advanced school as Columbia, I'm going to have to cut out a great deal of my volunteering efforts, since none of the rest of my activities CAN be cut out. So again, still don't think there's employment room in there...

    In any case, thank you. :)
  • greathalgreathal Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    Jan, you said earlier that you would be much keener on getting a free ride to a public school than borrowing your way through GS. Gotta say, making my way through GS in debt appeals to me. I was offered a full scholarship to my state school, but I'm already used to living like a student. Another 10 years of that while paying off interest doesn't phase me, as long as I get my degree.

    So do you have any thoughts on getting student loans without co-signers or collateral? I have a good credit history, at least. Wondering how adept GS is at helping me borrow especially large amounts of money.
  • hellojanhellojan Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
    I'll answer both of you, Hal and Carrot. First, Hal:

    "Jan, you said earlier that you would be much keener on getting a free ride to a public school than borrowing your way through GS."

    Careful, I didn't say that. In fact, I was offered multiple full-ride scholarships in Pennsylvania. I turned down the lot of them in favor of a Columbia education.


    "So do you have any thoughts on getting student loans without co-signers or collateral? I have a good credit history, at least."

    I don't. Luckily, I haven't had to do this. I'd ask the financial aid office when you set up your appointment.


    And you, Carrot:

    "I have to keep in mind that my situation is VERY different from most- taking a full course load, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, volunteering in the community, raising kids, and keeping a clean house, making healthy meals, etc., just doesn't leave enough hours in the day to hold down a job as well. Sometimes it doesn't leave enough time in the day to sleep...."

    Here's a wake-up call, Carrot:

    This situation, at a university like Columbia, isn't out of the ordinary. In fact, I have friends who are single moms at Columbia, work two jobs, go to school full-time, and get stellar grades. One of them is the president of a club and another I know from working out in the gym (yes, she finds time to work out, too). Both of them volunteer with the school so you might meet them at orientation.

    I know younger students who have full-time jobs, take care of physically disabled or elderly family members, volunteer, and have time to publish their research in academic journals and make the dean's list.

    The point is that this is a different paradigm, Carrot. This university attracts over-achievers, super-over-achievers. People here have extraordinary personal responsibilities and the university - meaning the faculty, administration, and your peers - will expect that you be able to do it all.
  • tsar10027tsar10027 Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    Wow, after reading that I feel really inadequate. As a current GSer, I am, with laser-point precision, solely focused on getting a certain GPA. I really want to help and get involved with school activities, but I am swamped. I guess I'll learn to manage my time better as I get acquainted with the school.

    Class-selection, quite obviously, also plays a huge role in time allotment. Picking the right classes with various work/reading loads is vital IMO.
  • chasethecarrotchasethecarrot Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    ^Yeah, that's what I'm saying...I'm swamped as it is. Like I said, I expect my work load to increase at Columbia (duh), so I figure I'll have to slice some volunteering out, but I honestly don't know what you're talking about, hellojan! I'm a CRAZY overachiever, TRUST ME, I'm saying there SIMPLY AREN'T ENOUGH HOURS IN THE DAY! I live, most of the time, on about three hours of sleep per night. Let me tell you- at 27 years old, I'm ALREADY feeling the effects of this lifestyle physically. And that's only going to get worse as I get even older. I'm racing. All the time. Right now, for instance, I'm typing this as I am hunched over a stack of about six sheets and four blankets that I just pulled out of the dryer (doing laundry) and folded. I'll click "post" and be right back to work. How do these people have time to raise kids, volunteer, go to gyms, maintain stellar grades, and work TWO jobs, no less?? I don't get it. I can't lose any more sleep than I already am...I just can't. I already have a hell of a time staying awake in my morning classes, before my nineteen cups of coffee kick in...

    Furthermore, how are these single moms getting the help to do all these things????? One of my biggest setbacks is that even if I had a job, I would have nowhere to take my kids so I could go there! Babysitting is EXPENSIVE! If I were to sacrifice the three hours of sleep I get each day in order to replace them with work hours, I would pay seriously ALMOST AS MUCH in babysitting as I would be earning. No way am I giving up my precious sleep just to pay someone else to get to spend time with my kids while I go bust my butt for free! I already have enough trouble getting my youngest taken care of so I can go to my classes (thankfully the others are in school).

    Like I said, hardcore overachiever here- if you can explain to me how it's physically possible to add a job to my schedule, I'll do it, no problem. REALLY could use the money! But explain to me HOW??
  • chasethecarrotchasethecarrot Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    Also, the conversation began in the context of financial aid- I highly suspect the people you're talking about are people who already live in New York, already have homes there, and quite possibly may not be completely financially destitute like I am. Unless I have a full ride, basically, I feel I am going to have to take out loans. I'm going to have to pay someone back a great deal of money just to GET to New York, with all my stuff, and my kids' stuff, and so on, and find a place, turn on the utilities, all these things that cost money. Even with a job, I couldn't pay back whoever I borrow that from for a LONG time, much less pay all the accumulating bills at the same time, and I'm not sure I could cover the cost of raising my kids and the cost of living in New York with just a job, anyway. I could be wrong, of course, but with rent, the babysitting it would take, food for all of us, new clothes (these kids just keep GROWING, lol), school supplies, etc....

    I just don't know. But I will definitely ask the GS financial aid department if they have any resources for daycare, or clothing, or food, or work study I could do with my kids in a campus daycare, whatever they can point me in the direction of that I can possibly fit into my schedule, I will be happy to do. And as you pointed out, this is a school for the non-traditional student, so maybe someone within the school will have some useful insight for these things. I hope..
  • hellojanhellojan Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
    Wait, you're not planning on living in university housing? This conversation may be moot. The average cost of a Manhattan move-in is over $10k.
  • hellojanhellojan Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
    Let's hold off on specifics until you get your aid package. Make an appointment with them on Monday and make a checklist of all the important things you'd like to cover. It'll get sorted out.

    In the meantime, if you think you've seen over-achieving, wait until you get here. Your mind is about to be blown.
  • chasethecarrotchasethecarrot Registered User Posts: 271 Junior Member
    Oh god, noooo, I do not want my mind blown, lol. And yeah, I'd love to live in university housing, but when I checked out the app it said you can't apply for family housing until you've been at Columbia for a year...?? Anyone know if..hopefully...I misread that somehow?

    (Yes, I'll call on Monday). :)

    Well, baskets are done, plastic eggs are filled; time to catch three precious hours of sleep before hiding eggs in the yard. Playing overnight-Easter Bunny is quite tiring, but worth every yawn and backache. :) To any other 5am bunny moms out there- we ROCK!!!


    Oh, I almost forgot- Happy creepy-magical-candy-carrying-giant-humanoid-rabbit-also-for-some-reason-having-something-to-do-with-eggs-and-oh-yeah-there's-like,-a-resurrection-in-there-somewhere day!

    good night, CC'ers :)
  • hellojanhellojan Registered User Posts: 1,632 Senior Member
    Wait a year? That doesn't seem fair. You should simply be allowed to move in to the housing that best suits you as soon as it's available. Hmmm.

    Happy Easter, Carrot! Hope you and the kids have a great day!
  • LizfromHollywoodLizfromHollywood Registered User Posts: 379 Member
    i was a middle-of-the-night bunny ; )

    i already applied for family housing, so i really hope that i do not have to wait a year! i did not read that anywhere, but that doesn't mean its not true... i will start furiously googling in hopes of finding an answer and easing your mind!

    thanks for this thread! so helpful.
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