The e-mail seemed pretty universal to me. Guess we'll have to see if any pending applicants didn't receive it. Good to know I'm still in the running and that my rejection hadn't actually been lost in the mail back in February, though .
I believe the tuition is paid upfront, though I am not sure if there is some sort of class standing/grade requirement needed to keep the fellowship for the 2nd and 3rd year.
So for your fellowship do you have to basically pay the full price tag out of pocket or through loans first and then you'll receive aid upon graduation? That does seem just like a beefed up version of LRAP, and you should be eligible for need-based grants, I think.
The Hamilton is not a public interest fellowship. Other than tuition you are also paired up with a professor in your area of interest and there's an opportunity to do research and maybe even publish with them.
Hmm, not sure how much additional aid you are going to land. I know Hamiltons definitely do not qualify for additional need-based aid and I get the feeling you might not either. I think you should send the Financial Aid Office a quick e-mail: if people with your fellowship can qualify for additional aid they can tell you right away and you can wait for your award summary. If they don't qualify at least you'll know.
The Hamilton Fellowship from Columbia as far as I know also has no strings attached. I think it's really just a merit scholarship with a fancy name, as opposed to a fellowship in the traditional graduate school sense. At the same time, some 'scholarships' like NYU's RTK have many obligations and stipulations, so there is really no hard and fast rule for differences between fellowships and scholarships.