I want to take just a moment to tell you about something that gets overlooked when thinking about Columbia: the number of grants and scholarships that are available to the current grad students.
First, the big one is the Follett Graduate Merit Award. Everyone who applies to one of Columbia’s graduate programs is automatically considered for the Follett. This is a big scholarship that covers almost all tuition while attending Columbia, depending on how many credit hours you take each semester. For Photography MFA students, the Follett covers up to 9 credits of tuition per semester for all of the three years you attend. That being said, there will be two semesters while you are here in which you will be required to take 12 credits. During these two semesters, you will have to cover the final 3 credits.
Next up is the Alfred P. Weisman. This is an award that is open to both undergrad and grad students in the visual arts, although grad photo tends to win a lot of these. For the Weisman, you are required to make a budget. If you win one of the awards, you will be awarded half of your budget. The budgets max out at $7,500, which means that if you spend $3,750 on a project (which people like me that shoot large format and print large can easily do), Columbia will give you another $3,750 to help. That can be a big deal.
Next is a new grant. This is so new that I don’t even know what it is called yet. This grant is only for second-year graduate students, and this is the first year it is offered. This is a travel grant meant for international travel. During your 4th semester, you will be able to propose a project that involves international travel. One second-year grad student will be awarded $6,500 to spend the summer between their second and third year traveling and working on a project. The grant will run for 10 years, this being it’s first year. Grants like this are amazing, because there are only 6 students in our year, which means right off the bat, there is a one-in-six chance I could win it. Exciting!
The last one I will mention is nothing official. I had really wanted to attend a large opening that I was having in Germany, but couldn’t afford to go on my own. I mentioned this fact to our chair in passing and he suggested that I purpose a budget and he would see what he could do. I planned a number of events around the opening and proposed a budget. Wouldn’t you know it, two nights before I was scheduled to leave, I got a call from Peter saying they would give me $800 to help with the travel. That covered slightly more than half my trip. It was fantastic!
All of these opportunities are things that will not only help financially, but they help with making work, because you are not nearly as burdened by the thought of money all the time.