Columbia deposit deadline - extension possible? Tuition waiver negotiable?


Hi,

I have two questions for fellow prospective Columbia LL.M. students.

1) I've been admitted to the LL.M. program at Columbia for 2007-2008. The deadline for me to submit a non-refundable $500 deposit is April 2. While I want to study at Columbia, my financial situation is very uncertain right now and it is far from a given that I will be able to afford to go there. While I realize that many people on this board say "just pay the 500 bucks and save your peace of mind", but in all sincerity to lose the deposit would pose a serious financial hardship for me, due to my present debts and the fact that I work in the social justice legal sector. I plan on writing Columbia an email tonight explaining fully my situation and requesting a slight extension of the deadline. I suspect that this request will be summarily refused, but if anyone *reliably* aware of a case where a student has received a deadline extension, it would be very, very helpful for me to know.

2) I have received a partial tuition waiver from Columbia - $30,000. While I am grateful for this, it would still be very expensive for me to study there next year, again because my interests lie in the social justice sector and I do not stand to command a large corporate salary upon my graduation. While I applied for financial aid from Columbia, my acceptance did not indicate whether my tuition waiver was need-based, merit-based, or both. Does anyone know whether a tuition waiver is ever negotiable? Specifically, if my financial situation right now is even worse than it was when I filled out my application last September/October? That would seem to be a relevant factor if my tuition waiver is need-based.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide as I ponder this difficult decision.
Hi,

I have two questions for fellow prospective Columbia LL.M. students.

1) I've been admitted to the LL.M. program at Columbia for 2007-2008. The deadline for me to submit a non-refundable $500 deposit is April 2. While I want to study at Columbia, my financial situation is very uncertain right now and it is far from a given that I will be able to afford to go there. While I realize that many people on this board say "just pay the 500 bucks and save your peace of mind", but in all sincerity to lose the deposit would pose a serious financial hardship for me, due to my present debts and the fact that I work in the social justice legal sector. I plan on writing Columbia an email tonight explaining fully my situation and requesting a slight extension of the deadline. I suspect that this request will be summarily refused, but if anyone *reliably* aware of a case where a student has received a deadline extension, it would be very, very helpful for me to know.

2) I have received a partial tuition waiver from Columbia - $30,000. While I am grateful for this, it would still be very expensive for me to study there next year, again because my interests lie in the social justice sector and I do not stand to command a large corporate salary upon my graduation. While I applied for financial aid from Columbia, my acceptance did not indicate whether my tuition waiver was need-based, merit-based, or both. Does anyone know whether a tuition waiver is ever negotiable? Specifically, if my financial situation right now is even worse than it was when I filled out my application last September/October? That would seem to be a relevant factor if my tuition waiver is need-based.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide as I ponder this difficult decision.
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veterok
First of all Congratulations!!! You are luckier than me. I got accepted to Columbia too but without fin aid and are now in a similar situation - not sure will be able to afford it. My personal experience is that Columbia law school's admission office is not very helpful for the students. I wrote to them a week ago about my situation but never got a response. Honestly, if I were in your shoes I would still write them this will never hurt,. But also try to contact them on the phone as well. If there is a possibility for you to take a loan just go for it.
My situation is a bit different. I'm from Russia and to take a loan here I need to pledge an apartment (which I don't have) and they would only give me maximum 25K, under a 12% interest the lowest, which would not be enough. So, I was thinking about applying for a defferral. By the way, does anybody know how easy it is to get deferral from Columbia and whether lack of money is a good reason for them. ? Please, this would be very helpful information ideed.
First of all Congratulations!!! You are luckier than me. I got accepted to Columbia too but without fin aid and are now in a similar situation - not sure will be able to afford it. My personal experience is that Columbia law school's admission office is not very helpful for the students. I wrote to them a week ago about my situation but never got a response. Honestly, if I were in your shoes I would still write them this will never hurt,. But also try to contact them on the phone as well. If there is a possibility for you to take a loan just go for it.
My situation is a bit different. I'm from Russia and to take a loan here I need to pledge an apartment (which I don't have) and they would only give me maximum 25K, under a 12% interest the lowest, which would not be enough. So, I was thinking about applying for a defferral. By the way, does anybody know how easy it is to get deferral from Columbia and whether lack of money is a good reason for them. ? Please, this would be very helpful information ideed.
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LN
Perhaps my experience will be of some help I was offered admission and a 20k tuition waiver last year, and decided to defer because of financial difficulties. I also work in the public sector and plan to continue in this field, so I can fully relate to this type of financial reckoning. My experience is that waivers are completely negotiable. (I was offered a 10k waiver initially, but after I wrote explaining I won't be able to attend without further financial assistance, they offered me a 20k waiver). I also know other applicants who negotiated their way to a larger tuition waiver.

Also, I was a few weeks late in making the deposit (I was somewhat uncertain if I will attend in 2007 or not, and was not excited to pay 500$ without knowing what their financial aid decision will be next year), and it didn't really seem to matter. However, since I deferred my admission our circumstances are a bit different, so I wouldn't attempt to test the seriousness with which they take their deadlines If all else fails, I would try calling the admissions dean Sylvia Polo. She was very nice and helpful.

By the way, I was offered a full tuition waiver this year, so deferring because of financial difficulties and reapplying may also work :) Hope this helps.
Perhaps my experience will be of some help – I was offered admission and a 20k tuition waiver last year, and decided to defer because of financial difficulties. I also work in the public sector and plan to continue in this field, so I can fully relate to this type of financial reckoning. My experience is that waivers are completely negotiable. (I was offered a 10k waiver initially, but after I wrote explaining I won't be able to attend without further financial assistance, they offered me a 20k waiver). I also know other applicants who negotiated their way to a larger tuition waiver.

Also, I was a few weeks late in making the deposit (I was somewhat uncertain if I will attend in 2007 or not, and was not excited to pay 500$ without knowing what their financial aid decision will be next year), and it didn't really seem to matter. However, since I deferred my admission our circumstances are a bit different, so I wouldn't attempt to test the seriousness with which they take their deadlines… If all else fails, I would try calling the admissions dean – Sylvia Polo. She was very nice and helpful.

By the way, I was offered a full tuition waiver this year, so deferring because of financial difficulties and reapplying may also work :) Hope this helps.
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Thanks for the helpful post. I am incredibly appreciative.

You definitely seem to be the type of person I need to be talking to, so I'd like to ask you some follow-up questions, if I may:

1) could you shed any light on what you said in order to gain additional tuition waiver? Was it simply a case of explaining your financial situation? Did you say you need to work for a year to afford school? Did you say you weren't able to acquire sufficient loan funding? Did you say your finances had changed since you had applied? All of these circumstances are true for me, so I'm wondering if this would be of assistance in pleading for a waiver.

2)Did they ever indicate whether the waiver was means-based or merit based? They made no such distinction for me. Obviously, there is no logic behind asking for an increased waiver on merit - that is what they felt you are worth. But financial circumstances fluctuate rapidly, so a cause could be made that i need more money now than i did last fall.

3) When your deferral was granted, did your waiver disapper, roll over to the next year, or what? I understand that you got an increased waiver in your subsequent application year, but was your initial waiver guaranteed? Obviously I am very concerned that if I am granted a deferral I will lose my waiver altogether, because i will have been working and earning money (though not very much). But then your example seems to totally contradict that logic.
So, in a nutshell, if they grant me a waiver, am i guaranteed at least that waiver or might i stand to lose it. This is possibly my most pressing issue.

4) Do you think it would help or hurt my cause if i throw something in my request about knowing that other students have successfully been granted increased waivers / deadline extensions? Did you make any such mention in your request?

Again, thank you so much for your help and I hope you can provide some insight on these follow up questions.
Thanks for the helpful post. I am incredibly appreciative.

You definitely seem to be the type of person I need to be talking to, so I'd like to ask you some follow-up questions, if I may:

1) could you shed any light on what you said in order to gain additional tuition waiver? Was it simply a case of explaining your financial situation? Did you say you need to work for a year to afford school? Did you say you weren't able to acquire sufficient loan funding? Did you say your finances had changed since you had applied? All of these circumstances are true for me, so I'm wondering if this would be of assistance in pleading for a waiver.

2)Did they ever indicate whether the waiver was means-based or merit based? They made no such distinction for me. Obviously, there is no logic behind asking for an increased waiver on merit - that is what they felt you are worth. But financial circumstances fluctuate rapidly, so a cause could be made that i need more money now than i did last fall.

3) When your deferral was granted, did your waiver disapper, roll over to the next year, or what? I understand that you got an increased waiver in your subsequent application year, but was your initial waiver guaranteed? Obviously I am very concerned that if I am granted a deferral I will lose my waiver altogether, because i will have been working and earning money (though not very much). But then your example seems to totally contradict that logic.
So, in a nutshell, if they grant me a waiver, am i guaranteed at least that waiver or might i stand to lose it. This is possibly my most pressing issue.

4) Do you think it would help or hurt my cause if i throw something in my request about knowing that other students have successfully been granted increased waivers / deadline extensions? Did you make any such mention in your request?

Again, thank you so much for your help and I hope you can provide some insight on these follow up questions.
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LN
1. It was simply a case of explaining my financial situation. I wrote an email to the admissions office explaining my difficulties (still paying back student loans; limited parental resources; no luck with securing alternate funding etc.), so basically all the circumstances you described strike me as relevant and worth mentioning.

2. They didn't indicate it specifically, but I tend to believe its mostly merit-based, and that financial constraints don't weigh much. Note that in the letter offering financial aid they write "we were very impressed with your credentials" or something of the sort as the reason they decided to grant you a waiver). Also, when I reapplied for financial aid this year I needed to submit an additional statement describing what I've been doing since I submitted my original application, and not just an updated financial aid form. I also submitted an additional letter of recommendation from my current place of employment.
I think there is lots of logic in asking for a larger waiver, as all is still very flexible probably some applicants who were offered waivers will not choose Columbia, meaning more funds will open up for others. So, even assuming waivers are completely merit-based I would still try.

3. The risk in asking for a deferral is that indeed you "lose" your previous waiver. You are not automatically granted an award again, and need to reapply for financial aid. They pointed it out quite clearly when I wrote them asking to defer.

4. I didn't mention other students in my request, and generally don't think its the best idea, but thats just my opinion.

Good Luck!
1. It was simply a case of explaining my financial situation. I wrote an email to the admissions office explaining my difficulties (still paying back student loans; limited parental resources; no luck with securing alternate funding etc.), so basically all the circumstances you described strike me as relevant and worth mentioning.

2. They didn't indicate it specifically, but I tend to believe its mostly merit-based, and that financial constraints don't weigh much. Note that in the letter offering financial aid they write "we were very impressed with your credentials" or something of the sort as the reason they decided to grant you a waiver). Also, when I reapplied for financial aid this year I needed to submit an additional statement describing what I've been doing since I submitted my original application, and not just an updated financial aid form. I also submitted an additional letter of recommendation from my current place of employment.
I think there is lots of logic in asking for a larger waiver, as all is still very flexible – probably some applicants who were offered waivers will not choose Columbia, meaning more funds will open up for others. So, even assuming waivers are completely merit-based I would still try.

3. The risk in asking for a deferral is that indeed you "lose" your previous waiver. You are not automatically granted an award again, and need to reapply for financial aid. They pointed it out quite clearly when I wrote them asking to defer.

4. I didn't mention other students in my request, and generally don't think it’s the best idea, but that’s just my opinion.

Good Luck!
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cganne
Does Columbia impose a double requirement for scholarships? (i..e you have to demonstrate financial need and outstanding dredentials?)
Does Columbia impose a double requirement for scholarships? (i..e you have to demonstrate financial need and outstanding dredentials?)
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Amelia1
Any luck with this amsterdammer?

I was in the same position as you - having been offered a tuition waiver of $30,000. I requested a full tuition waiver but was turned down. I did mention that I had obtained comparable funding from another top school (where living costs are much lower) and that my financial circumstances were such that I was heavily dependent on funding (I have a substantial student loan). I do however have other funding available to me and I had advised Columbia of this - and so fairly they said their priority was to give assistance to those who had no other sources of funding.

I understand their position - however, even the prospect of taking out a $10,000 loan to cover the remainder of tuition is enough to make me thing seriously about accepting the other school...
Any luck with this amsterdammer?

I was in the same position as you - having been offered a tuition waiver of $30,000. I requested a full tuition waiver but was turned down. I did mention that I had obtained comparable funding from another top school (where living costs are much lower) and that my financial circumstances were such that I was heavily dependent on funding (I have a substantial student loan). I do however have other funding available to me and I had advised Columbia of this - and so fairly they said their priority was to give assistance to those who had no other sources of funding.

I understand their position - however, even the prospect of taking out a $10,000 loan to cover the remainder of tuition is enough to make me thing seriously about accepting the other school...
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Thanks for all your advice guys. As an update, I wrote Jill Marden at Columbia explaining my situation. She was very polite and considerate and told me should would extend my tuition deposit deadline by 2 weeks (and possibly even further after that), and would look into possibly getting me more financial aid. Unfortunately, just a few days later she wrote back saying that she could not grant me further financial aid. I'm concerned because of my debt, my intention to work in the public service/social justice sector after my LLM (i.e. NOT a big firm), and the fact that I don't qualify for a student loan at one of their preferred lenders (i have no U.S. credit history and do not know anyone who could cosign for me), that I will not be able to attend Columbia this fall. I am very concerned about deferring because the thought of losing my tuition waiver scares me. It would really sting to get less assistance next year. So right now it's basically a waiting game. I have to assess my financial situation to see if I can afford to go to Columbia. Only time will tell. I have not yet been successful in securing any outside funding. At this time, I figure I need to secure about $30,000, all in, in order to attend Columbia next year. We'll see what happens.
Thanks for all your advice guys. As an update, I wrote Jill Marden at Columbia explaining my situation. She was very polite and considerate and told me should would extend my tuition deposit deadline by 2 weeks (and possibly even further after that), and would look into possibly getting me more financial aid. Unfortunately, just a few days later she wrote back saying that she could not grant me further financial aid. I'm concerned because of my debt, my intention to work in the public service/social justice sector after my LLM (i.e. NOT a big firm), and the fact that I don't qualify for a student loan at one of their preferred lenders (i have no U.S. credit history and do not know anyone who could cosign for me), that I will not be able to attend Columbia this fall. I am very concerned about deferring because the thought of losing my tuition waiver scares me. It would really sting to get less assistance next year. So right now it's basically a waiting game. I have to assess my financial situation to see if I can afford to go to Columbia. Only time will tell. I have not yet been successful in securing any outside funding. At this time, I figure I need to secure about $30,000, all in, in order to attend Columbia next year. We'll see what happens.
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Amelia1
That's tough - you might try calling her? You clearly have a genuine case for financial aid (as expect many others don't). Did you apply to other schools - it does seem that having some leverage in terms of other offers helps.

Otherwise - you could look into AAUW (if you are female..?)
Or Rotary?
That's tough - you might try calling her? You clearly have a genuine case for financial aid (as expect many others don't). Did you apply to other schools - it does seem that having some leverage in terms of other offers helps.

Otherwise - you could look into AAUW (if you are female..?)
Or Rotary?
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Hi,

unfortunately I am not female and in my country you have to apply for rotary well over a year in advance of your proposed studies (e.g. June 2006 for September 2007). I found this out the hard way when, much to my surprise, I inquired last summer only to find out i had already missed the deadline.

I have quite thoroughly canvassed third party sources but I just haven't been very lucky in that regard. And while I do have significant financial need I don't think it's their priority to help someone they've already offered $30,000 to.
Hi,

unfortunately I am not female and in my country you have to apply for rotary well over a year in advance of your proposed studies (e.g. June 2006 for September 2007). I found this out the hard way when, much to my surprise, I inquired last summer only to find out i had already missed the deadline.

I have quite thoroughly canvassed third party sources but I just haven't been very lucky in that regard. And while I do have significant financial need I don't think it's their priority to help someone they've already offered $30,000 to.
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Amelia1
I would be inclined to get in touch with Rotary and see if they are willing to make an exception - my experience with Rotary is that, despite what their websites and applications forms say, their processes can be quite informal - and they are very keen to choose applicants whose study objectives fit with their 'peace and goodwill' focus (and it sounds like yours might).
Or you might consider working for a couple of years in a large commercial firm afterwards to pay off any loans you are required to take out. I am currently working in the public sector in human rights law but worked previously in a large commercial firm (with no relevant experience - I had taken mainly jurisprudential/human rights papers at university). I learnt an awful lot there that has been useful in my current job.
I would be inclined to get in touch with Rotary and see if they are willing to make an exception - my experience with Rotary is that, despite what their websites and applications forms say, their processes can be quite informal - and they are very keen to choose applicants whose study objectives fit with their 'peace and goodwill' focus (and it sounds like yours might).
Or you might consider working for a couple of years in a large commercial firm afterwards to pay off any loans you are required to take out. I am currently working in the public sector in human rights law but worked previously in a large commercial firm (with no relevant experience - I had taken mainly jurisprudential/human rights papers at university). I learnt an awful lot there that has been useful in my current job.
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