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I have been accepted to the dual MS program in Journalism and Computer Science at Columbia University. Columbia Journalism school has offered aid of $36,250 for 2018-19. Even if I manage to get the same amount for 2019-20, then too the remaining expenses (including tuition and living) is about $150,000. Coming from a middle class family in India, it is impossible for me to pay this much fees. I asked the office of admissions and financial aid at the J-School if they could increase the aid amount, but they turned down my request. There are certain universities like Chicago and UPenn where students can take loans without showing any collateral and the university stands as guarantor. Is a similar plan available for students at Columbia? I was going through the website of Student Financial Services, Columbia University where I came across a list of recommended lenders: http://sfs.columbia.edu/files/sfs_new/content/financial-aid/17-18-Lender-Chart-International-Grad-as-of-06-12-17-CompF.PDF I would like to know the general opinion among students about taking private loans from these lenders. I have also heard about Prodigy Finance and MPower Financing. They don't require co-signers for the loan. Which is the best option to go for? I have also read that students go for Teaching Assistantships to reduce the financial burden. It will really help if someone can clarify what the assistantships are about and how much work is involved in it.